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Part of the Elite

by Meghann on May 8, 2012

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending my first Yelp Elite event at Samurai Blue in Ybor.

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And let me tell you, Yelp knows how to spoil their Elite members!

In case you’re not familiar with Yelp – or their Elite program – it’s a user-generated social website where users can review local restaurants, businesses, etc. Their Elite program is set up to reward their most active users and is essentially open to anyone and everyone! All you have to do is create a Yelp account and review your little heart out (feel free to friend me in the process ;) ).

I’ve been active on Yelp since 2009 (it’s seriously my favorite app on my droid when finding new places to eat in unfamiliar areas), but I only recently earned the rank of ‘Elite ’12′ in the last month. Tonight was my first Elite event!

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I’ve heard from other Elite Yelpers that the Elite events are pretty badass. They usually consist of free food, free drinks, and an array of Elite Yelpers who are just as crazy about good eats as I am. Sounds like a good time to me!

Tonight’s event was held at Samurai Blue (an AWESOME Sushi spot downtown), which was completely closed off for the private event. My friend Mary and I were the two of the first to arrive and, of course, headed straight to the bar to check out the free drink selection.

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Impressive!

We each enjoyed a glass of the Matchbook Tinto Rey while mingling.

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(Don’t you LOVE Mary’s dress! She said she found it at consignment shop! Such a great find. )  

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We also took turns drooling over the food that was about to be served.

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Let’s just say they made sure we were well fed. We tried a little bit of everything – family style.

“Beginnings”

  • Kamikaze Roll: salmon, crab, asparagus, avocado, scallions, alfalfa sprouts, and smelt roe wrapped with cucumber
  • Ahi Tuna Tataki: sesame seared with a spicy ponzu sauce topped with a harusame salad

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What is it about raw tuna that is sooooo good?!? Amazing.

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  • Momiji – Tuna: cubed big eye tuna sashimi mixed with spicy pepper

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  • Blue Crab Rangoon: lump blue crab, cream cheeses, and chives in a crispy wonton wrapper <— my favorite!!

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Being my favorite didn’t mean it was any easier to eat with chop sticks. Fail.

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The best part about the Yelp Elite event was making friends with fellow Yelpers. They’re definitely a special breed. ;)

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And I got see an old friend! Carlos and I have met at previous local food events (he’s a good one to follow if you’re a Tampa local!) and he was the only one brave enough to do a sake bomb.

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Sake Bomb! Sake Bomb! Sake Bomb!

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I think that means he was also the only one not driving himself home. ;)

“Main”

  • Tempura Lobster: tuna, crab, cucumber, and scallions topped with tempura lobster and smelt roe
  • Blue Moon: lump blue crab, cream cheese, asparagus, and scallions served tempura style

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  • Nigiri and Sashimi: big eye tuna, japanese madai snapper, Hawaiian kanpachi, Scottish salmon, fresh scallop

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  • Petite Peppercorn Crusted Filet Mignon: served with baby bok choy, potatoes, and a shitake demi glaze.

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The bok choy was AMAZING!!! I actually have bok choy in my fridge right now and want to try and recreate this tomorrow night. The steak was great too – right up there with the sushi in terms of fabulousness. ;)

  • Petite Steamed Ginger Salmon

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Everything was great, but I have to stay the sashimi and bok choy stood out as my favorites. Derek doesn’t like sushi (which is why I don’t get to eat it as often as I would like), but I bet if I showed him the photo of the steak, I could persuade him into eating here again. ;)

“Sweet Finish”

  • Matcha Pookie
  • Yuzu Pookie

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The chocolate and green tea pookies were my favorite. Sorta like a Japanese macaroon.  

  • Shaven Ice Matcha Sundae

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I wasn’t sure I would like the sundae, but I LOVED it. I was the only one at the table to polish off every bite. I loved the mix of textures and flavors.

After that you could have stuck a fork in me – I was done!

THANK YOU Yelp Tampa Bay and Samurai Blue for an amazing night of food and new friends! It’s an honor to be a part of such a wonderful community and I look forward to more events in the future!!!

Are you a part of the Yelp Elite crew in your area?!

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krystina May 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I’ve always wanted to try Samurai Blue! I haven’t been to Ybor in over a year but I adore that area.

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2 Claire May 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Love your dress!! Looks so comfy & cute.

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3 Casey May 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm

This is seriously my favorite sushi restaurant ever – and for sure in Tampa! Next time you go, try the Key Lime Pie Martini. Not overly sweet, quite strong, and divine. Rimmed with graham cracker crumbs. Best I’ve ever had.

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4 Annette @FitnessPerks May 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm

COOL!! Sounds yummy!

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5 RunInBoise May 8, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I didn’t know about the yelp elite. I have left a few reviews, but I guess I need to leave a few more. Looked like an awesome event!

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6 Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana May 9, 2012 at 1:26 am

The sushi looks SO good…it’s definitely going to be my first meal after I deliver baby :) You’ve inspired me to start reviewing more on Yelp…I use it so often to help us pick out restaurants, but hardly post any reviews of my own!

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7 Kim @ Living, Laughing & Losing May 9, 2012 at 5:54 am

All of that food looks amazing! Looks like I need to get to reviewing. ;)

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8 Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) May 9, 2012 at 7:26 am

Yelp is one of those sites I use to find good restaurants but never think to join and participate in the community. Guess I’m wrong…

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9 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope May 9, 2012 at 7:32 am

That looks like such an amazing event! I always check Yelp but I never post anything. I guess I better get a move on. I want to go to events like this :)

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10 mi-an d. May 9, 2012 at 7:46 am

OMG!!! I NEED TO BE AN ELITE MEMBER OF YELP!! I LOVE YELP!! AND I LOVE SUSHI@@

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11 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 9, 2012 at 8:07 am

That looks like an amazing dinner! Haha I’m definitely not in the Yelp Elite, I’ve only used it a few times and have never written a review!

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12 Lee May 9, 2012 at 8:23 am

I’m Yelp Elite in Atlanta but I always get too nervous to go to those things!

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13 Lisa May 9, 2012 at 8:40 am

I’ve been Yelp Elite for 5 years but have only made it to a handful of events – I REALLY need to go to more of them! The best so far have been a Boston Harbor sunset cruise, and free tickets to Billy Elliott in Denver.

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14 Emily N May 9, 2012 at 8:53 am

You definitely just convinced me to post another review on Yelp. Thanks for that.
By the way, I was downtown at the Square last night for a date with the hubby. Did you eat at Via Vite?

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15 Krissy @ Shiawase Life May 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

That looks so fun! I am a Yelp Elite, but haven’t lived close enough to a big city for a long time now so I have never been to any events yet :(

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16 Army Amy* May 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

That’s a lot of food they gave you for free!*

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17 Grace @ Grace Dishes May 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

OH GOSH I THOUGHT THAT WAS YOU YESTERDAY! I wish I had gone up to ask. Yesterday’s set up was hard to mix and mingle and I didn’t want to interrupt people’s conversations!

Next time :) Thank you for the YELP FRIEND ADD and see you at the next event! I really loved the dress you were wearing last night and you might see me in the corner of that first pic behind you (I’m the one in the black dress by the bar)

I’m still digesting the food from last night. Definitely OVERINDULGED lol!

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18 Meghann May 9, 2012 at 11:28 am

Ha! Too funny!!!! We’ll just have to say “hi” at the next one!

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19 Alex @ therunwithin May 9, 2012 at 10:56 am

Oh my gosh that raw tuna looks delectable!

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20 Maddie May 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

Um, delicious! Loving your outfit.

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21 Cait's Plate May 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

Looks delicious! I’ve been craving sushi like crazy lately and this looks SO good!

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22 Erin @Recimplicity May 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

Wow I need to get started on my Yelp account ;) All of that food looks delicious, I love me some sushi…sake bombs not so much lol

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23 Alaina May 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I’m not on those websites nearly enough. I have so many accounts (yelp, tastingmenu, etc) but haven’t really posted anything! If events like this occur, I think I need to start writing more!

And that sushi looks so bright, vibrant and delicious!

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