Sushi fans who scoff at cream cheese in their rolls should stop reading now. Pubbelly Sushi, the second outpost of the funky Pubbelly empire in South Beach’s Sunset Harbor neighborhood, is not for purists. I’m up for anything, from horse meatballs in Puglia to fried scorpions in Beijing, but if anyone had told me I’d be ordering — and enjoying — burrata cheese with raw fish, I’d surely have rolled my eyes. At Pubbelly Sushi, with its fusion of Mediterranean, Caribbean and Japanese elements, anything is possible. And surprise, surprise: Lots of its combinations jump onto the palate like fireworks, though some do land with a thud.
Diners can mull over the menu while nibbling plump Kalamata olives subtly Asianized with spices, fresh ginger and sesame oil. The brief daily menu can be confusing, but the black-clad staff seems genuinely informed and engaged. Chef Jose Mendin earned his chops at such notable spots as Nobu in Miami and London, El Chaflan in Spain and Mosaico Miami and as Sushi Samba’s executive chef, and sushi chef Yuki Ieto knows his way around the raw stuff. They bring in pristine seafare from Hawaii, China, Japan, Scotland, Spain and Malta, among other spots, and serve it simply sliced into sashimi or gently layered over rice, but their untraditional dishes are worth sampling, too. There are two kinds of rolls here, buttery potato buns that sandwich the likes of fried clams and cole slaw (quite delicious) and Japanese-style rolls with American twists.
Ambience: Much like the original Pubbelly a few doors east, the space is low-key and cool, with brick walls, concrete floors, oversized blackboard menus, flattering overhead lighting, butcher-block tables and hip soundtracks that make you want to hang out for hours. And a good-looking young crowd does.
What Didn't Work