Editor’s note: Sorry to say Sakura736 closed.
If you read my blogpost on the best dishes of 2017 you saw the Sakura Roll from Sakura736. Actually, three dishes could have made the list. When the word gets out about the restaurant, , it’s my prediction it will be one of the hot spots in town. It’s well located on what is becoming a prime foodie destination with Joe’s Stone Crab, the new Stubborn Seed, Milos, and Red the Steakhouse all within a few blocks of one another and had a sophisticated, attractive crowd the night we went. Sakura736 features Nikkei cuisine, the first in Miami. It’s the convergence of Japanese and Peruvian traditions which emerged thanks to the immigration of Japanese to Peru.
The all star team includes chef Carlos Zheng, who hails from Peru where he mastered his Peruvian cooking techniques and later studied under the great Japanese master sushi chef Noboru Sanada. Overseeing the Japanese kitchen is Chef Noboru.
Our experience began with a wonderful Seppuku cocktail by master mixologist Christian Rolan. I’m usually not one for mixed drinks except for a Negroni from time to time or a Gin Martini (actually, for my taste, not really “mixed” as it’s gin with a drop of vermouth). But I had repeats on the Seppuku. Its complex flavors combined watermelon puree (sweet) and lime (tart) with Serrano pepper in a glass rimmed with black salt. We had each chef suggest dishes, which is the best way to go. Everything we tried was uniformly excellent, creative, and original.
The menu is divided into otsumami (starters), raw bar, sakura specialties, soups, salads and desserts. Our first dish (one of my best dishes of the year) was the sakura roll inspired by the Japanese cherry blossom festival, a symphony of pink and white, where tempura lobster stars. Another standout was the hotate a la parmesan, scallop served in the shell, flambéed with pisco with a parmesan cream sauce. You might say, just one scallop? It was so rich and downright decadent, one was enough.
Also getting very high marks was the quinoto, red and white quinoa that brought to mind risotto. It’s made with a lobster stock, chives, cilantro, and crowned by a giant prawn bathed in antichucho sauce. Sublime. All of the fish we had was swimmingly fresh, not surprising since Chef Zheng worked in the seafood industry and knows his fish and purveyors.
What about your meat lovers? Don’t miss the oh so tender lamb chops accompanied by Peruvian potato with anticuchera sauce and an assortment of baby vegetables that looked like a still life.
There’s also a solid variety of rolls, classic maki, sushi and sashimi.
Next time I’d like to try the Paiche, an ancient Amazonian river fish that is firm fleshed with a delicate flavor comparable to Chilean sea bass. It is seared with a seasoned tempura crust, and served with bok choy and a slurry of oyster mushrooms, sake, and butter. Then there’s the Forbidden Rice. Served in the banana leaf where it was just steamed and perched in a classic Peruvian iron pot, this concoction of black rice, fresh calamari, octopus, and veggies is unfolded from its vegetable vessel on serving.
Service was excellent, though it wasn’t full (it was its first week of opening) the night we went. However, based on the credentials of team, I would fully expect them to be able to keep up the high standard. Sakura736 is open for lunch and dinner and offers happy hour 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Prices are a little less than ballpark for fine dining. Starters range from $6 to $19 (quinoto which actually could be an entrée); salads average around $10; entrees in the low twenties to high thirties; sides average $6. Wine by the glass starts at $10 and bottles at $40. Signature cocktails like the Seppuku are $13.
Sakura736, 736 1st Street, Miami Beach, T.786-607-0199.