First look: Abokado

 

With Abokado, Mary Brickell Village now has a sushi restaurant -- soon their restaurant empire will be complete. Bwahahaha.

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Abokado: ooh baby they like it raw.
 

By Sara Liss

The goods: Mary Brickell Village now adds Abokado's upscale Asian-fusion cuisine to its burgeoning dining scene (in addition to crowd-pleasing Mexican, Chinese and seafood restaurants). Though not a chain, Feu Nuvo, the company behind the project, plans to open more locations in Florida and Georgia. The 140-seat dining room evokes Zen minimalism with slate walls and stone floors, while also catering to Miami's see-and-be-seen sensibility with its open plan and leather banquettes on raised platforms flanking the perimeter. The central wooden gazebo made of blond wood references Japanese tatami-style dining while a glowing sushi bar in the rear of the restaurant provides additional seating where diners can observe half a dozen sushi chefs churning out rolls with mechanical precision.

The grub: A cross-cultural menu of Japanese-Pan Latin fusion dishes that marry the sobriety of traditional Japanese fare with the fire and textures of Latin cooking. Raw fish is the focus here with an extensive list of ceviches, tiraditos, nigiri and sashimi. A tiradito sampler ($26) features a taste of all four selections including a tuna tataki with aji-amarillo sauce, salmon with key lime ponzu, hamachi with serrano peppers and beef tataki with yuzu truffle oil. An appetizer of Abokado "nachos" ($14) redefine snacking by presenting tempura-fried shiso leaves topped with spicy tuna, avocado and kaiware sprouts while chorizo-stuffed calamari ($12) caters to both sides of the Atlantic. Head sushi chef Hiro Asano (formerly of Bond St.) helms the maki-making with signature rolls that exemplify the restaurant's stated mission with combinations like the "El Diablo" ($18) made with spicy snow crab and avocado topped with striped bass and jalapeno wafer. Ingredients like jicama, cilantro and chipotle crema turn up in various specialty rolls in addition to ubiquitous fillings like tempura shrimp, cream cheese and cucumber.

Non-sushi eaters need not fret, a succinct menu of cooked entrees includes chili braised short ribs ($24) with wasabi-shiitake grits, tequila-miso marinated chicken ($22) with yucca mash and a beef filet ($32) with Peruvian corn succotash.

Desserts include yuzu cheesecake, churros and yuzu tequila sorbet. In addition to a full bar and wine list, the restaurant has also organized a sake list with prices $32 to $120 per bottle or $7 to $14 for 4, 7 and 8-ounce options.

The verdict: Sushi savants will be flocking to bustling Mary Brickell Village to sample Abokado's palate-broadening blending of Japanese and Latin staples.

Abokado, 901 South Miami Ave., Mary Brickell Village; 305-347-3700

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