Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Kung Fu Chu's @ The Catalina

There's a new sushi and sake lounge at the Catalina Hotel and it is Tokyo-tastic! Decor is anime-chic with whimsical Japanese comicbook artwork adorning the lobby lounge area and waitresses dressed in plaid miniskirts and knee socks for that Harajuku girl look. The cocktail menu features a nice list of sake selections and the outdoor tables are the perfect people-watching spot on Collins Avenue.

And the food? With an exec chef who used to cater to the emperor of Japan the Izakaya-style menu did not disappoint. Specialty sushi rolls ($9-$13) are creatively composed (and named) with surprising flavor combinations like the Kung Fu Crunch made with crab, tempura flakes, avocado and spicy tuna. I couldn't resist the Kung Fu Jew roll made with cream cheese, avocado, crab and cucumber wrapped in soybean sheets and topped with salmon. My only issue with tempura flakes is that they come on top of the roll instead of inside.

There's also a great dim sum menu ($6-$8) with half a dozen varieties of dumplings and noodle dishes, though the portions are a bit wee - the veggie dumpling portion produced 4 petite pockets. We also tried the okono miyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) as there are not many places in Miami where you can get this coveted Japanese street food staple. For dessert we had the green tea and red bean ice cream, both sweet, fragrant and refreshing after a sushi feast.

Kung Fu Chu's is at the former Dorset Hotel, 1720 Collins Ave.
South Beach

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