You’ll still find plenty of pizza joints and pub grub at the beach, but oceanfront hotel restaurants are getting increasingly ambitious and sophisticated, drawing talented chefs to fine dining choices like 3030 Ocean, Steak 954, Trina and Via Luna on Fort Lauderdale beach and Hollywood Prime at the ritzy Westin Diplomat. Newcomer Tokyo Blue at the Ocean Manor Resort on Galt Ocean Mile also brings stellar pan-Asian and Peruvian-influenced cuisine to the table, the work of executive chef Mai Ponrathorn, formerly of the Miami Beach hot spot Nobu.
But Tokyo Blue won’t be for everyone, certainly not your 80-year-old aunt from Ohio. Dishes are much pricier than at your neighborhood sushi hangout. You’re paying for the oceanfront location, the touristy appeal and a hyper-clubby atmosphere. The 6-month-old restaurant brings a younger demographic to Galt Ocean Mile, attracting a singles scene late evenings in the lounge, with its ice blue bar, waitresses in bustiers and dance music.
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Ambience: The restaurant has a sushi bar, a separate dining room and a quieter strip of tables on the outside patio facing the pool, and beyond that, the surf. The 250-seat setting is done in white with blue, green and aqua accents, a hip, eclectic space with a few Asian elements, like the warrior statues at the entrance, a framed kimono and black lacquer artwork. We dined here once on a packed Friday evening, when we had to shout to hear each other and our capable server in the stark dining room. Next time, we had a more enjoyable experience dining earlier on a Saturday, and the hostess suggested sitting in the more attractive lounge, with soft lighting and high tables, actually quieter until the DJ arrives around 11.
- Himachi jalapeño – paper-thin slices of the bracingly clean, mild Pacific yellowtail given a shot of flavor from slices of the hot peppers and a vinegary ponzu sauce
- A generous bowl of rock shrimp tempura with spicy mayo
- Asian tacos – four light, crisp shells made from dumpling skins filled with chopped cooked lobster and king crab with raw tuna and scallops
- Mac-n-cheese sushi roll – a mix of eel, soft shell crab, masago and conch
- An entree of black cod topped with a sweet miso glaze and served with a cone-shaped mound of sticky rice
- A dramatically served whole yellowtail snapper – fish is taken out and deboned and served in a spicy basil sauce while its body is tempura fried and perched on a plate
- Chicken panang curry pairing a slice of Japanese pumpkin, lots of chicken and green beans with a hint of lush coconut milk for richness
- A juicy and well-seasoned 18-ounce porterhouse served with a Peruvian causa, a mound of mashed potatoes drizzled with an aioli pepper sauce
- Fresh mangoes with sticky rice, topped with a colorful butterfly of white chocolate
- Fried morsels of bananas, chocolate sauce and cream cheese