The goods: Upscale Asian lands on Ft. Lauderdale beach via SAIA, a glossy fusion spot at B Ocean Fort Lauderdale. The restaurant (pronounced “Saya”) is a welcome change from the margaritaville madness usually on display on A1A. The polished dining room with its silver globe lights and cushy black leather chairs is a fitting backdrop to the global cuisine blending Japanese and Thai traditions.
Ambience: A handsome marble sushi bar frames SAIA’s open kitchen, where a team of chefs churn out maki rolls and man the stainless steel teppen grill (less smoke than a charcoal grill with all the aromatic goodness). Eight-seat high top tables host groups while window tables offer privacy and beach views.
The grub: Eclectic Asian cuisine with a focus on sushi. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Subin Chenkorsorn, who blends Japanese and Thai experience in a resume that includes a stint at the Delano. Prices are in line with most beachside sushi dens: small plates are about $12, rolls average $16 and mains top out at $28.
There are a dozen types of sake available by the bottle (two by carafe) and several specialty cocktails, including the Bipolar made with gin, absinthe lychee and lemongrass. Begin with one of the ten sushi rolls featuring unexpected compositions like the garlic hamachi spiced with jalapeno and cilantro. Raw fish purists will enjoy the abundant sashimi list stocked with items like fatty tuna belly and Japanese mackerel. Large plates include a fiery bowl of Thai curry lobster flecked with pineapple chunks and hearts of palm.
Desserts trod untraditional territory with a lemongrass crème brulee and lychee cake. After-dinner drinks get the royal treatment with a sculpted ice sphere that melts slowly.
Verdict: Unconventional maki and sake cocktails at a posh spot overlooking Ft. Lauderdale beach.