The who: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Hollywood spent $12 million on upgrades and recently renovations, including this upscale Asian spot that feels a bit like the Buddakan of Broward. Executive chef Alex Becker (Nobu) and executive sushi chef Shuji Hiyakawa (Morimoto) created the menu.
The space: A cavernous dining room (located off the casino floor at the busy hotel) that mixes neutral tones with nautical accents like driftwood on the walls, jellyfish-like chandeliers and a wall composed of 100,000 hand-placed seashells. Floor-to-ceiling bay windows line the perimeter, providing a full view of the casino pool. An open kitchen, sushi bar, and several private dining areas contribute to the bustling atmosphere.
The bar: Not an afterthought here as serious mixologist Jared Boller (NYC’s Flatiron Lounge) has created drinks categorized by tastes like “umami,” “salty” and “bitter.”
The dishes: Trendy Asian. The epic menu is divided into sashimi, salads, robata charcoal grill selections, tempura, sushi, and larger entree style dishes. Prices are in line with the upscale surroundings with starters $5-$24 and mains $16-$29.
Start with chilled items like pricey cuts of toro tuna or the Hokkaido scallop sashimi coated in ginger-spiked yuzu jelly. Tempura dishes such as corn kakiage and maitake mushrooms will please those looking to chase a hangover while the robata grill serves up skewers of of duck, chicken, and shrimp. Small-ish grilled entrees such as chicken momo and wagyu tacos are good for sharing while an uni pasta features soba noodles dressed in a miso sauce flavored with scallion and osetra caviar and topped with the sea urchin roe. Sushi offerings run the gamut from expected jalapeno hamachi to house-smoked trout and kampachi.
Pastry chef Ross Evans goes for futuristic creations like the goma panna cotta made of green custard, cucumber jelly and nori crumbles.
Bottom Line: You’ll have to wade through the Seminole Hard Rock Casino to get there, but there’s plenty of sushi cred to justify a trip.