There's an art to picking a steak. As the chefs at Prime will tell you, a steak should have just the right amount of marbling, which makes the meat retain tenderness and develop more robust flavors during cooking. That's why father-and-son duo Steven Pellegrino Sr. and Jr. insist that every steak be cut from USDA prime beef. They also insist upon fresh seafood, lining up catches such as sea bass and line-caught swordfish for their chefs to transform into flavorful entrees, as well as a roster of sushi and sashimi.
Outfitted with a supper-club atmosphere, Prime dazzles with its decor as much as its menu. A pianist lights up the ivories nightly, each scale undulating through a posh interior of chandeliers, marble floors, and a martini-centric bar. A dedicated butcher's area lets patrons take a hands-on approach to dining by picking out their own cuts of meat—a favorite feature of Zagat and other delighted reviewers. Premium spirits, cigars, and velvet feedbags can also be brought and stored in Prime's inscribed liquor cabinet for enjoyment throughout the evening.
Executive chef Kevin Lee's 20-year career rolling sushi pays off at Japango. His skills shine at the trendy eatery, where he creates more than 50 varieties of sushi rolls, including the Japango Lobster Bomb—a bundle of tempura lobster, asparagus, and fish eggs encased by a shell of tempura lobster. Lee's experience with cuisines outside of Japan is highlighted as well, as the menu features dishes such as pad thai and beef and broccoli.
Japango's popularity has warranted an expansion to two new locations. Both hot spots mimic the original restaurant's modern vibe, characterized by clean lines and dim, tear-drop lighting, which sets the mood for a romantic evening or a tantalizing game of footsie with a table leg.
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.
Though encompassing a range of flavors, every meal at Guarapo's Cuban Cuisine shares one thing in common: its cooks' meat-searing talents. When it comes to crafting pork, for instance, the culinary team roasts every marinated cut for hours before grilling it with saut?ed onions. The eatery's other protein-packed dishes don't take as long to make, though they sport just as much flavor. Green plantains arrive stuffed with ground beef, creole sauce spices up fried chicken filets, and chimichurri sauce accompanies skirt steaks marinated in blends of traditional Cuban spices. Each hearty feast unfolds within one of Guarapo's comfy booths, which are surrounded by murals of verdant fields and mountain vistas.
A glossy white bar occupies the expansive dining room, curving in a giant half-circle that leads into an area that connects red booths. It looks like the stylish, marble bar found in an upscale lounge, but upon further inspection, it holds plates of sushi that are actually moving. That's because it?s a magnetic conveyor belt, and it invites diners to snag whatever traveling morsels they like. A visit to Jidai Kaiten Sushi and Sake Bar is as much about the experience as it is the food. But with fresh seafood, neatly rolled maki, and artfully drizzled sauces, the food is most definitely the star. Chefs also sear steaks and lobster tails on the hibachi, char-grill Chilean sea bass, and practice tiny sword skills when preparing pad Thai.
"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.