While Miami has grown to be one of the Western hemisphere’s hotspots for fusion cuisine, it’s unfortunate that most Miami restaurateurs and chefs in this arena don’t know what they’re doing. One surprising exception is a little hole in the wall appropriately named “Sushi Chef.” Don’t expect greasy haired waiters dripping with false friendliness as is the norm in Miami Beach or trendy furnishings with lights so dimmed you can’t see what you’re eating. Here, casual smiles and good food at reasonable prices is delivered consistently.
Sushi Chef is, in this critic’s humble opinion, the best and one of the few sushi joints to dine at in Miami. Its proprietor, the kind and fatherly Enomoto-san, can be found at the restaurant every day, if not preparing the sushi himself, then watching over his hand chosen successors. It’s reassuring to know that the owner of a restaurant cares enough about his customers to go around personally, greeting everyone and ensuring that the dining experience is up to par. It also speaks volumes that in an industry as volatile as food service, Sushi Chef has retained mostly the same staff through the years.
While Sushi Chef offers popular favorites such as Crunchy Roll (tempura salmon and tuna with scallions, avocado and spicy mayo glaze) and Philadelphia Roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese), what makes this a legitimate Japanese joint is its more unknown delicacies. Spicy and salty Mentaiko is found nowhere else in South Florida while the nutritious and delicious Edamame Hijiki appetizer is also a rarity. Sashimi is as fresh as you can find in the city, with every fish available to rival the restaurant’s unworthy but super pricey competitors.
Hot dishes such as Sobayaki and crisp, light tempura are also on the extensive menu. In a city overwhelmed with so called Japanese restaurants run by people who know little to nothing about authentic Japanese cuisine, its intricate balance of sensual flavors and delicate textures, Sushi Chef stands alone as the one bright star in a mass of faux logs, masquerading as sushi. For all those foolish enough to venture to Miami’s super trendy, overpriced “Japanese” restaurants, the rest of us who have taste will continue being loyal patrons of Sushi Chef.