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Feb 20, 2009 05:32 AM

Ft. Lauderdale--Cafe Sharaku, a real gem

We made our third visit to this little (about 18 seats) place on US 1/ Federal Hwy just south of Oakland Park Blvd, a couple of nights ago. It was fantastic and I've got to give it a plug. There's another post further down pleading for folks to frequent this place in an effort to be sure it stays in business. I can't think of a more admirable undertaking.

The chef is Asian and there are Asian touches on the contemporary items throughout the menu. There wasn't a thing on it that didn't sound wonderful and I would love to have treid everything. I chose the 28 dollar prix fixe menu of four course. A creamy celery soup for starter, then fluke with sea urchin over bok choy, then short ribs falling apart atop veggies, and finally coconut mousse with pineapple carpaccio. Though portions (except for the main which was very ample) are appropriately small, that's a lot of great taste and fine ingredients for 28 dollars. My dining partner had edemame, perfect salmon tartare, and crab in a wonderful broth and finished it off with a rich chocolate gooey cake in a cup.

The space is small but very pleasant with a peach moire covered banquette separating the dining area from the entry and providing seating for four tables for two. The other seating is high backed leather chairs. Nice white linens and small florals on each table. Two nice paintings on the wall and sheer curtains covering the window facing the street. You feel as if you are in a private dining room in someone's home. Service is similarly pleasant and genuinely concerned that you be happy with everything.

We have a low end favorite further up the Highway (Kosta's Greek restaurant, a dive with fantastic, gigantic portions of truly great homemade Greek food) that we try to go to often to be sure they stay solvent. They're just going to have to be content with half as many visits from now on. We've got to make sure this place (mid-level price wise, but high end food wise) stays in business so we can go again and again and again. Please try it and return often as we will.

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  1. when i went it was very empty, has business picked up?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ankimo

      Unfortunately not. We were there Tuesday or Wednesday and we were one of two tables of two. The other two were just as enthusiastic as we were and seemed to be "regulars." So I think the place already has a Choir. What they need now is more converts and disciples.

      1. re: gblcsw

        Sorry, I just now saw your reply. Kosta's is on Federal Hwy, north of Sample Rd, in a strip mall on the east side of the road called Georgetown Mall. Turn at RJ Boyle taxidermist.

      2. Thanks for your post. This is one of my favorite restaurants. I was supposed to go tonight but couldn't get a sitter. This place was our choice for New Years evening two months ago. We never get entrees, instead choosing about 3 appetizers per person. We absolutely love the asian french fusion. I have had the salmon tartare which is crazy good but my favorite is the sashimi with yuzu and raw japanese potatoes.

        1. We tried Cafe Sharaku on Friday night. At first we were the only table, but then three other diners came in. When we left at 10:30, they were there alone. I've always said if you want business, you need to have business. I think even if you have to get friends and family to come have free food at your restaurant to make the place look busy, that's what you need to do. People don't like walking in and eating in an empty restaurant. And the truth is, it's a shame that they're not busy, because the food is very good, and some of the dishes are much more than very good.

          We all had the prix fixe and for $28 it is an amazing value. My only complaint would be that there are only two items on the entree list that don't have a supplement charge. It might make more sense to charge $30 or $32 and have more options. The stand-out dishes we had were the muscle soup, the fluke with sea urchin which was fabulous, the shrimp and lobster which I only got a bite of because my friend couldn't bear to share, and the short ribs which were super delicious. The duck breast was also very good, but came out very rare. I probably should have just let it be, but instead asked if it could be a drop more done and when it came back it was too done and a little tough. The flavor was very nice, though.

          All in all, this place is really special and I do hope that their business picks up. Maybe if we keep putting the word out and sharing our experiences we can make it happen. When you drive by all these mediocre chain restaurants and see people waiting to get in and then you find a place like this that's family owned and run, it makes you wonder.

          1. What an amazing place! If there are 200 people or 10 it doesn't matter when you eat the food, it's almost like everyone else melts away!

            What an amazing unforgettable experience!

            The food was catered to the diversity of tastes in our party with a unique, creative combination of true fusion cooking! Our friend had a private party with the staff working hard to keep everyone happy! The wait staff were very hospitable and worked late into the night with smiles on their faces.

            Chef Jin Kaita was so humble and yet so talented!!

            One person was allergic to soybeans, so she was not able to eat the dish presented (tofu with plum sauce) so despite it not being in the plans, the chef prepared a delicious spring roll with avacados, cucumbers and cilantro and a dipping sauce that was perfect.

            Also we had more people than originally expected so when they ran out of supplies for a certain dish, the volunteers who got the alternative dish of "Eel Pie" were able to enjoy something I've never seen before- eel pastry! was delicious! I was jealous that I didn't get that. But there was no shame in sharing because if you shared, then you were able to taste all the amazing creations Chef Jin had to offer!

            Every dish that was presented was as beautiful as it was pretty and the people that had been there before said it was the best they'd had anywhere in Fort Lauderdale! So it wasn't just me...

            We enjoyed a full course meal at a reasonable cost, considering all the special ingredients, the handmade and perfectly cooked ceviche, soup, sushi, Chilean Sea Bass, roasted veggies, and the dessert...oh my!

            I will be sure to call again and again for that chocolate souffle AND Jasmine flan. Perfection!