"It took them five years before they would let me handle the fish," says sushi chef Jo Clark about his extensive training. He began his culinary journey at 13 years old and spent a decade in an apprenticeship at the Japanese restaurant Yama. There, he honed an ability to prep rice and sauces, wield a knife, and select sushi-grade fish while shadowing chefs from different regions of Japan. In his spare time, Jo enjoys paddle-surfing and once skillfully maneuvered alongside a lively school of sharks.
At the restaurant, however, he deftly manages cuts of salmon, flounder, hamachi yellowtail, and shellfish to craft more than 40 inventive sushi rolls. He toys with the traditions of sushi, wrapping some rolls with thin slices of European cucumber and creating a sashimi pizza on a tortilla crust. The aromas of ginger, eggplant, and garlic wander from pots of Thai-style dishes in the kitchen and out into dining rooms. Though each location has distinct decor, diners mingle among elements such as exposed-brick bars, hardwood floors, and hanging Japanese paper lanterns in the exciting bright colors of a furious traffic cop viewed through a kaleidoscope.
When you look at a Philly cheesesteak, "subtle" might be the last word on your mind. But it is, in fact, a sandwich of subtleties—just ask Big Al and his son Adam. When they moved to Florida from Philadelphia, they tried many cheesesteaks that purported to be authentic, but that lacked the small, signature touches of a true Philly creation: ribeye that was sliced and not chopped, for example, or the steak rolls only the East Coast had perfected.
So, the duo started their own cheesesteak restaurant. They sliced the ribeye steak, scheduled weekly deliveries of rolls from Philadelphia, and even put Cheez Whiz on the menu in addition to melted cheeses for added authenticity. This is not to say that they don't branch out—Big Al's also has burgers, hot dogs, and cheesesteak variants, such as the bacon-bleu cheesesteak or the spring-mix salad (it tastes like a cheesesteak if you close your eyes and concentrate hard enough).
It's safe to say Between the Bun owner David Korn knows his sandwiches—he once owned several delis around Manhattan. But as it turns out, the key to creating a delicious sandwich isn't just pairing it with Gershwin music, it's having a supply of fresh, high-quality ingredients. In recognition of that fact, David and his team truly focus on what's between the bun: fresh-roasted turkey breast, roast beef, and certified Angus beef patties, to name a few choice proteins. These classics are flanked on the menu by other popular creations, such as the Romanian steak sandwich. Even the quality of the sides at Between the Bun is given the utmost attention, from the house-made French fries to the coleslaw and potato salad.
Floridians looking to get a taste of Chicago have to travel no further than the closest HotDogOpolis, where the cooks serve Vienna Beef franks in the style made famous in the Windy City: piled high with mustard, onion, green relish, a dill pickle, tomato wedges, pepper, and a dash of celery salt. Other styles of hot dogs stay warm underneath a heap of sauerkraut or dunked into cornmeal batter, and a host of sausages, char-grilled burgers, and sandwiches also make an appearance on the menu. Cooks at the Boca Raton location, dubbed “PitaOpolis,” also stuff roast beef, tuna, and chunky hummus inside pitas, according to recipes designed by Chef Gary Wood.
Back under the ownership of original proprietors Kenny and Rachelle, DaVinci Restaurant summons guests to its elegant, cloth-draped tables with a menu of time-honored Italian favorites made from fresh and local ingredients whenever possible. Warm your palate by starting with some sips at the full bar, or grab a seat outside to enjoy gentle flickers of heat pulsing from the real pit fireplace in synchrony with occasional live beats. In addition to classic pasta plates, gourmet pizzas, loaded salads, and seafood entrees, the bill of fare flaunts house specialties, such as eggplant DaVinci ($16.99)—eggplant layered with fresh spinach, sliced tomatoes, tomato sauce, three types of cheese, and sundry murder-mystery clues. Health-conscious options include the salmon tuscany ($18.95), wherein pan-seared fish snuggles up with caramelized mushrooms, roasted garlic, and sundried tomatoes underneath a blanket of white-wine sauce on a cushy cot of spinach.