Cafe Sharaku earns 3.5 stars for exotic, elegant sushi in Fort Lauderdale

 

Cafe Sharaku earns 3.5 stars for exotic, elegant sushi in Fort Lauderdale

Café Sharaku

Rochelle Koff

For years, Café Sharaku was one of Broward’s best-kept secrets. In fact, the first time we visited the 18-seat restaurant in 2007, we were afraid it might not survive. But chef-owner Iwao “Jin” Kaita has slowly built a devoted clientele that appreciates his artistic Asian fusion cuisine. These days, it’s a good idea to have a reservation on weekends. Named for 18th century Japanese artist Toshusai Sharaku, the cafe presents exotic, elegantly crafted dishes that look like they belong in a gallery. Kaita left his native Japan in 1995 and sharpened his cooking skills at Miami Beach’s Nobu, where he was a sushi chef, and Palm Beach’s Café Boulud, where he learned French techniques.

At Café Sharaku, many of his Asian dishes have French accents, like his baked eel mille-feuilles, with slivers of eel tucked between layers of sour cream and puff pastry, or Asian yams drizzled with a blue cheese sauce. There are seven or so entrees plus 10 or more appetizer-size dishes on the nightly specials board. A good way to sample Kaita’s cuisine is the six-course tasting menu ($60 per person), which must be requested 24 hours in advance. If you miss the deadline, some of the items are also available on the specials board.

Ambience: The atmosphere is intimate and the decor minimal, with copper hues, glass-block accents, fresh flowers and candlelight. The sweet young servers are skilled and never intrusive.

What Worked

  • A cold, refreshing cucumber-tomato soup
  • Jot miso broth with mussels
  • Bracingly cool grouper sashimi topped with tabs of sea urchin and served with a mustard-soy sauce
  • Ultra tender boneless beef short ribs braised in red wine and miso plated with perfectly cooked green beans
  • A deliciously rich short stack of snow crab mixed with avocado and served with wispy homemade potato chips
  • Skewers of silky Kurobuta pork belly drizzled with a yuzu-miso sauce and garnished with scallions and pink pepper
  • An exquisite, albeit pricey ($60), entree of velvety Wagyu beef prepared three ways - slices of buttery steak in a light ponzu sauce; shabu-shabu (swished in hot broth) in a slightly sweet sesame sauce; and thinly sliced and in a Korean-style barbecue sauce atop white rice
  • Braised sea scallops, shrimp and mussels served in a garlicky broth fragrant of Japanese basil
  • Lovely coconut mousse cake 
  • Creamy jasmine flan with green tea ice cream
  • Scrumptious chocolate soufflé paired with house-made vanilla ice cream

 

What Didn't Work

  • Chewy Maine lobster tail served on the shell with a flavorful Japanese aioli

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