"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.
From a distance, it looks like a scoop of pistachio ice cream or a very large lime. But up close, it's clear that the sphere's green skin is actually a layer of thinly sliced avocado, which conceals a savory lump of snow crab, eel, and sushi rice. A union of artistic presentation and fine ingredients, this dish—called the Green Apple—embodies the creative approach of Fusionarie Japanese Signature's chefs, who craft sushi delicacies from seafood delivered fresh daily. At their kitchen inside Royal Palm Place, house-made mango sauce, wasabi aioli, and other garnishes douse house signature sushi rolls as teriyaki and tonkatsu entrees crisp atop grills and stoves. The eatery's décor echoes the chefs' commitment to presentation, as lantern-like lights illuminate Japanese statuary and the grain of hardwood floors and furnishings.
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.
Lauded by the Sun Sentinel for its “expert sushi with eye candy presentations” and its “nice medley of cuisines,” Red Ginger Asian Bistro presents several star Asian cuisines. Chinese classics such as egg drop soup, moo goo gai pan, and moo shu pork mingle on a menu with Thai fare including red-curry shrimp and thai beef salad. The staff also prepares Japanese-inspired food, curating selections from the sushi bar such as unagi sashimi, shrimp-tempura rolls, and Sexy tuna rolls packed with white tuna, cucumber, asparagus, and the power to make people stare at them with mouths agape. Even drinks from the bar run the geographic gamut, from hot and cold sake to lychee martinis and Asian, European, and North American beers.
The menu at Seaweed Asian Cuisine flits across the globe like a migratory bird, landing in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines to scoop up each region's culinary treats. Fresh fish make an appearance in sushi rolls and the spicy-tuna nachos, which are served on crisp wontons and flavored with baby octopus. Seafood also takes center stage in the Filipino-style whole snapper and Thai-inspired spicy volcano shrimp. Seaweed's chefs also concoct original creations, melding together aspects of various Asian cuisines with dishes such as roast pork with veggies and honey garlic chicken. Their culinary prowess won them the 2013 Reader's Choice Award from Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Although the chefs at Asian Fin Restaurant take Japanese culinary traditions as their starting point, they push their cuisine to a new level by introducing a bit of modern flair. Among their 40 sushi rolls are specialties that incorporate everything from king crab and wild salmon to tempura shrimp, strawberries, and mixed nuts. The chefs also cook inventive entrees, from lamb chops grilled in a stone pot and topped with Asian mustard glaze to Japanese-style tacos filled with smoked salmon and sweet chili-tinged cream cheese.
To accompany this wide array of flavors, Asian Fin Restaurant features an impressive collection of imported sakes. Just as fine wines require special wine grapes and fine microbrews require special beer microwaves, fine sakes require the sort of carefully milled, high-quality rice found in every selection at Asian Fin Restaurant.
With its orange chairs, jet-black floor tiles, and intimate lighting, the eatery's dining room appears to share the menu's modern inclinations. At the same time, a handful of traditional touches ensure the restaurant's Japanese roots remain prominent. Decals of arching tree limbs adorn one entire wall as well as the glass partition dividing the room, and kanji-decorated accents hang above the gleaming bar area.