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

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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