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DINING REVIEW | SAIA Sushi @ B Ocean (Fort Lauderdale) - An Experience!
by Armando Diaz

What to do, what to do on a Thursday night.  At least one night out of the week (we) get that craving for some good Asian cuisine, the kind
that makes your eyelashes dance and your palette tingle.  But
that won’t leave you with that ‘ballon about to pop’ feeling or will
break the bank.  I believe we found exactly what we were looking
for at SAIA Sushi (which stands for Sunrise & A1A), at the B Ocean
right on the corner.  It was 7pm and we found parking right away
across from Tattoo Blues on Sunrise Lane.
On hand were the master culinary talents of Chef Subin, who
presents guests innovative composed sashimi dishes,
contemporary sushi rolls, and signature sharing plates (I’ll tell
you more about these in a little bit).  Our server was a slice of
heaven, a young Taurus named Sara.  Sara was incredibly
cheerful, knowledgeable and detailed.  She complemented the
presentation that came with every drink and every dish, as we
became aware from just the feel and look of the place,
‘presentation’ is key at SAIA.
The restaurant has a modern Asian-contemporary design
with ambient lighting and chill relaxed music playing in the
background.  Despite it the cool and chic atmosphere, it was
immediately comfortable.  No attitude at the door and friendly,
cuddly staff.  The open air kitchen was located right in the center
of the restaurant.  This was great, as I kept giving the kitchen staff
enthusiastic thumbs up on every thing that came across our table (much to their delight I’m sure!)  Sadly it was a cloudy evening, so no
bright ocean and beach vistas, which was fine b/c by the time I noticed that food started to arrive so let’s go!
We started off with a cocktail, this drink quickly became a favorite with us, it’s like the Asian version of a margarita but they call it a ‘Hello
Kitty’ ….meow!  Made up of three layers: Tyku Citrus Liquor, Banyan Gin and a house made, spicy Ginger Soda, yummy!  Soon after came
the Green Bean Salad with a soy vinaigrette ($5), chilled, spicy and tangy, simple and sensible.  Sharing is of course encouraged, but the
portions are not super sized, giving you room to enjoy all parts of the meal.
After the salad, we move on to one of SAIA’s modernized sushi rolls, we shared the Fire Dragon Roll ($18) served on a nice long plate for
easy access, a combination of tempura shrimp, avocado, some snow crab and topped with spicy tuna.  Both ends of the roll were adorned
with the shrimp’s tail to complete that dragon look.  We ordered sake but didn’t realize the presentation behind it all, the appropriate sake
was matched with the corresponding item on the menu (so please trust your serves b/c it was all excellent).  Another fun twist to the sake
was you got your choice of what kind of sake cup to have your sake poured in (different cups to match different personalities or moods
throughout the meal).  So then with our dragon roll came a tropical sake, Manotsuru or “Four Diamonds” with hints of banana and plum
juice.  
Next up, my partner had ordered Chef’s hot Thai Curry Lobster ($25), a big meaty tail soaked and surrounded in a pool of spicy coconut
milk accented with little chunks of pineapple. This was presented with Ko’s Hana super-premium sake, a scent of apples and jasmine
with a marshmallow bubblegum taste... very cool!  I ordered the Mongolian BBQ Lamb Lollipops ($16), medium rare... as Sara
recommended.  Sara said something about New Zealand raised but all I know is it just melted in my mouth.  So then guess what... more
sake!  This time we were in store for “Hiko’s Milky”, it’s one of their specialty sakes and right away you notice the coconut citrus blast it had
going on, nice!  
A few times throughout the meal I noticed Chef Subin himself, leave the kitchen and approach different guests to see if they needed more
water, or more rice, and sometimes he even brought out a random surprise.  He delighted our table with his specialty Tamari Scallops
($14).   My goodness...these were rich, soy-moistened scallops of minced crabmeat wrapped in tuna and topped with green Tobiko caviar.  
This particular treat was an adventure in itself, the
layers of it (like a complicated relationship) just unfolded with
every bite.  Just when you think you have it figured out, it comes
out of left field with something new.  This would probably account
for that pleasingly confused Scooby Doo look on my face.

More sake!  This time we had a cloudy, smokey
cherry sake called Eiko Fuji, served to us on
the last of our special selection of sake cups.  
How much fun is this?

On to the four large Miso Scallops ($14), lime and sea salt
crusted with a Japanese yam as the base and glazed in honey
miso sauce.   I’m personally always skeptical about scallops
(the same way I am about flan), it’s the consistency.  But I have to
say I honestly enjoyed this dish very much, I was wary about it but
in the end there were no regrets.  I definitely enjoyed the next dish
which was Chef’s Shirome Spice , crisp white flounder with
sweet chili and garlic sauce on a bed of stir fry vegetables.  The
fish was just lightly crusted and super tender just inside.
At this point I was just feeling very good, I mean like very, very good.  We were happy and feeling very fortunate.  Just when I was about to
call it quits out comes more sake.  Only this time we had a special ice ball maker? Ok this was some sort of Japanese copper conductive
molder that shapes the ice into a perfect sphere.  That ice sphere then goes in the glass with your closing cocktail so the ice won’t water
down the drink.  It was very cool and it only took a couple of minutes to make right there at the table.  The ice was for the Hana Houhoushu
Sparkling Rose, little sweet pink bubbles with rose hips and hibiscus.  Perfect finale you say?  No way.
To conclude our palettes’ trip through Chef Subin’s culinary wonderland, we decided to share a warm, lemongrass mango creme brulee.  
Oh... my....God.  I really only caught a small hint of the lemongrass, even so this was the perfect way to cap an incredible dining event,
because honestly going to SAIA is a personal event not experience.
You can easily have an event of your own and a companion for under $50 here.  And if a group even better as the whole menu and
presentation is based on sharing.  And that’s what dining is, a lost art in sharing, toasting and having a wonderful time eating, drinking and
laughing.  SAIA provides this in spades!  Your palette and your spirit, will NOT be disappointed.

SAIA is located at B Ocean Fort Lauderdale (right on the SW corner of Sunrise and A1A)
999 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

The restaurant is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday 5:30pm-10:00pm, Friday 5:30pm-11:00pm, and Saturday 6:00pm-11:00pm.
For reservations, call 954.302.5252 or visit
www.SAIAsushi.com

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