Wabi Sabi by Shuji elevates the fast-casual concept to an art form. The industrial-zen décor includes handmade ceramics from Japan and a wall of textured plaster where tree branches bloom with hundreds of origami cranes. Bowls are assembled behind the counter where you place an order.
Wabi Sabi is the first independent eatery for chef-owner Shuji Hiyakawa who was formerly at Dashi in the now-shuttered River Yacht Club. He is from Fukuoka in southern Japan and grew up in his father’s udon noodle shop.
He met Masaharu Morimoto in Los Angeles 20 years ago and relocated to Philadelphia to work under the Iron Chef. After two years he was named executive chef at Morimoto’s then was invited to cook at the James Beard House. An offer to open and run Kuro at the Hard Rock Seminole Casino brought the chef to South Florida.
This is where to come for clean eating with a cup of soothing green tea to nourish body and spirit.
Start with juices or soup
Three cold pressed juices are made daily served in bottles. Sip one while waiting for your bowl. The Samurai is elegant and clean, made from a blend of cucumber and watermelon. The Geisha is floral and fruity, made from mixed berries and hibiscus (roselle) flowers that adds cranberry flavor. The Ninja is pressed from mango with the stealth addition of fresh ginger root, which adds a warm spicy bite. The miso soup is the chef’s moms recipe and is light but umami rich with thin slices of shitake, silken tofu, wakame, daikon and scallions.
Share these bowls
There are 16 different bowl combinations. Bases include sushi rice, a multigrain blend of brown rice, millet, red quinoa and barley with hijiki seaweed that has a mushroom taste; chasoba (green tea buckwheat noodles); and mixed greens. Select from four topping combos and sauces. Wabi sabi has cubes of salmon and tuna with snow crab, tobiko, cucumber, edamame, braised shitake mushrooms and marinated seaweed salad with a dab of mashed avocado. Maguro is tuna, cucumber, avocado, scallions and seaweed salad. Yasai is composed of cucumber, edamame, braised shiitake, carrot matchsticks, sliced radish, scallions, seaweed salad and avocado. Sauces include wasabi soy with sesame oil, sesame ginger, spicy miso and spicy sesame soy. There’s also the omasake chirashi bowl that on a recent visit had salmon, hamachi, tuna, raw and seared toro, hotate (sweet Japanese scallop), braised shiitake, uni (sea urchin) and aji (horse mackerel) scattered with fine strands of nori.
Save room for dessert
Get house-made citrusy mango panna cotta topped with a micro greens. There’s also ice cream wrapped in chewy mochi dough. Choose from green tea, double chocolate, black sesame, raspberry white chocolate, passion fruit and salted caramel.
Wabi Sabi by Shuji, 851 79th St., Shorecrest; 305-707-4360
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday noon-9 p.m.
Prices: Bowls $11-$18, juices $7, miso soup $3.50, mini toro donburi $20, omasake chirashi $39, panna cotta $4.99, mochi ice cream balls $2.50
F.Y.I. Bring your own bottle or container and get $1 off a purchase. Free parking in back. High-end catering available with shidashi stacked boxes of nigiri sushi and rolls for $175 (bring the boxes back for $50 off your next order).