"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.
Chef Yozo Natsui's training in his native Japan, combined with more than 15 years of experience behind the stove, helped earn Bluefin Sushi & Thai Grill the distinction of Best Sushi, 2010 in the Sun Sentinel's Best of South Florida series. Inside a sleek dining room, servers transport fresh slices of fatty tuna and hand rolls from the sushi bar, where Yozo and his cadre of chefs carefully assemble edible cylinders lined with fresh seafood and cool vegetables. They accompany their platters of seared-steak teriyaki with soup or salad, and envelop medleys of vegetables in tempura batter before exposing them to a deep fryer—which is hotter and more philosophically profound than a bourgeois fryer. Servers pour an extensive selection of cold, hot, and flavored sake alongside various wines, imported Asian beers, and Thai iced tea.
Orchids are, in general, delicate and colorful flowers, concepts appreciated by Japanese and Thai chefs. Orchids of Siam brings the two schools of cuisine together under the flower's banner, serving colorful curries, stir-fried medleys with noodles, and, of course, sushi. The chefs draw flavors from all over the map, though, in their quest to create memorable dishes, infusing shrimp tempura sushi with the flavors of roasted garlic or enriching pad thai with eight ounces of fresh lobster.
Sweet Ginger Asian Bistro fuses Thai and Chinese fare inside a modern space bedecked in warm earth tones. Generously sized portions of thai dumplings and classic pad thai share menu space with Hong Kong specialties such as general tso’s chicken and lightly fried soft-shell crab. Chefs artistically arrange each dish with drizzles of colorful sauce, leaving entrees ripe for photographing, then devouring both the photograph and the dish.
Each of Thai Star Hoshi’s fried-rice, curry, stir-fried, and noodle dishes are flavored with chicken, shrimp, duck, or a medley of veggies. In the kitchen, a chef slowly stirs red curry simmering in a pot as pineapple fried rice browns in a nearby pan. Another chef slathers garlic sauce over broccoli and stir-fries noodles in a sweet brown sauce.