The who: Philadelphia-based chef and restaurateur Michael Schulson brings his modern Japanese fare to Hollywood, Florida with the opening of Monkitail, a contemporary izakaya.
The space: The dark and seductive spot is a maze-like warren of carved wood alcoves that frame an open robatayaki kitchen in the heart of the restaurant and a 15-seat sushi bar. The materials are sumptuous and the effect is dramatic: double-height doors, leather-studded booths and black latticework give the space a Tokyo-supper-club-meets-Mad-Max vibe. Beyond the main dining room is Nokku, a discreet cocktail lounge with four private rooms, each having full karaoke capabilities.
The dishes: Haute Japanese with an emphasis on sharable small plates and sushi. There’s plenty to choose from when it comes to mains. The lengthy menu includes dozens of options of beef, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetable and noodles/rice. Prices are on par with hip Asian joints with small plates ranging $8-$21 and larger mains $19-$27. The ten-course $65 chef’s tasting menu gives a nice survey of the menu’s greatest hits and is one of the best deals in town.
Begin by feasting on a spread of finger foods such as the tempura shrimp tacos, the duck scrapple bao bun (flavored like an “everything” bagel) and Japanese fried chicken with kewpie mayo. Raw dishes get creative with the toro tuna topped with caviar and the kampachi dressed with shallot-ginger relish. Robotayaki dishes run the gamut from skewered eggplant and oyster mushrooms to rib eye steak and kobe beef and pork belly. Composed mains include a broiled sea bass with truffle soy and sapporo chicken with asparagus miso. Sides of crispy Brussels sprouts and cod fried rice are nice riffs on Asian staples.
Desserts aren’t as elaborate as the savory plates with mini ice cream cones filled with soft serve or an ice cream “sushi” roll wrapped in Rice Krispies treats.
Bottom line: Adding to the cadre of chef-driven spots at the reinvented Diplomat, Monkitail is a polished outpost for upscale Asian dining.3555 S Ocean Dr
Hollywood, FL 33019