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Jan 3, 2009 10:54 PM

Sushi Bar @ Aqualina - Sunny Isles

I noted a couple weeks ago that there was a sign at the door at Hiro's Yakko-San informing that they were opening an "upscale sushi bar" in the Aqualina resort in Sunny Isles - probably exciting news to the many Yakko-San fans, myself included. We paid a visit tonight, and while this will be a nice addition for guests at the resort, it's not anyplace I'd go out of my way to visit based on our experience.

The sushi bar is installed right at the bar, which is in an open area behind the entrance to the hotel, next to the entrance to the Il Mulino restaurant - the sushi bar itself is a similar setup to what's at Bond Street in the Townhouse. The menu lists maybe a dozen or more various cold appetizer type items, several rolls, a few different sushi or sashimi combinations, as well as nigiri or sashimi by the piece. The menu includes some items from the Yakko-San menu or specials, like the hamachi usuzukuri w/ jalapeno, and the tuna harumaki.

I invited the sushi chef to make for me 6 nigiri of whatever he thought was best, and assured him that I eagerly eat anything and everything. Somewhat disappointed that four of the six items were fairly pedestrian - maguro, snapper, scottish salmon, unagi, the only slightly unusual ones being sockeye salmon and uni. All were fine and the uni quite good. The maguro neta was cut a bit small, while the snapper was somewhat large for a mouthful.

Mrs. F had a salmon-crab-cucumber wrap, and some sort of crunchy spicy tuna roll, both of which were fine but unexceptional. Some hamachi nigiri she added to her order later were nice, buttery and sweet. There are a few more unusual items on the menu, including battera, an Osaka sushi tradition in which the rice is pressed in a box and topped with saba (vinegared mackerel) and a sheet of seaweed. I tried theirs and liked it, though not as much as the one Chef Kushi does at Sushi Deli.

Which brings me to another important point - price. The prices generally were quite steep. The battera roll was $15 (twice as much as at Sushi Deli); the hamachi jalapeno usuzukuri was $19 (at least a couple bucks higher than at Yakko-San, I believe). Generally, prices for nigir ranged from $4.50 - $8. Plus the drinks are expensive - $15 martinis, $20 champagne by the stem (!). Between the two of us we spent $80 on food, and this was not exactly a sushi extravaganza we were having.

Everything was good, but probably not good enough to justify the prices, or the valet charge (another $15). But if you're staying at the resort, this is certainly a nice option to have available, and judging by the number of Aston Martins and Bentleys that were lined up out front, apparently they can still afford it.

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  1. Sounds disappointing, but not unexpected. Thanks for taking one for the team. I have a feeling come summer they may be hurting.

    1. Frod and others:

      I'm a sushi lover and sushi snob, and in need of help. I live in the Grove, and want to find a great place(s) for dates, solo, and delivery/ takeout closer to home. I like Bond Street, Nobu, Sushi Deli, Shibui, but fighting traffic all the time gets annoying. I particularily like toro and uni. Saw that Akashi just (re?)opened. Anyone tried it? Any suggestions would be great.

      3 Replies
        1. re: Oceanairess

          I have not found great sushi anywere in miami. The best I have found is good.

          Why don't you try Matsuri? I like it better than bond and it is cheaper and closer to you.

          1. re: Oceanairess

            How about Sushin Izakaya in Coral Gables. It's authentic Japanese.