Yakuza Modern Japanese and Thai Restaurant
2515 E. Atlantic Blvd.
Pompano Beach FL, 33062
Written and Reviewed by: J. Oliver
Expect the Unexpected
Yakuza Modern Japanese and Thai Restaurant opened January 18th, 2016, and has already made an indelible impression on the Pompano Beach restaurant scene. Jay and Mini Areechot are the young, energetic owners and the driving force of this new hot spot. Their hands-on approach and dedication to high quality food and comfortably classy service has made their restaurant an early success. Their positive energy and dedication to their dream has clearly inspired their service staff too. (Note: Click on the pictures in this story to see full size, high quality images).
When you walk in the door at Yakuza, you are treated like Kings and Queens! The name Yakuza refers to the famous organized criminal gangs from Japan, but of course it is used here in a whimsical way…all in good fun!
Chef Jay’s contemporary approach to both Japanese and Thai food is truly amazing and delicious! As they say in the restaurant biz, “Chef Jay’s got skills!” We watched him create his culinary magic recently at Yakuza’s Grand Opening Party, and even though he and the other chefs were making food for hundreds of people, everything was still perfect. No conscious compromises are made here when it comes to service, high quality food and all around consistency.
What is their secret? Actually, they have no secrets…the formula for success is right before your eyes. Mini is the “front of the house” director, executing the role of manager / owner simultaneously and perfectly. She moves about the spacious dining room with a genuine smile and watchful eyes. She has put a big emphasis on training her staff in areas of bar-tending, wine and sake knowledge, and especially customer service. It has all come together, and is getting better with each visit.
Chef / Owner Jay is the “back of the house” conductor! He has spent the last few years under the tutelage of more than one master sushi chef, including a stint at the famed Zuma in Miami. Jay tells me how he patiently absorbed knowledge from each stop along his journey to one day opening his own restaurant, and today his dream is a reality.
Chef Jay and Mini are Thai, so making Thai food is in their genes. The Duck Red Curry is an awesome example of this classic dish, and we love the addition of Lychee Nuts to the recipe giving it a mysterious sweetness. A healthy choice is the grilled Salmon Kha Pow, with Thai basil, crisp green and red bell peppers, scallions, bok choy and chili sauce. Making unique twists on classic Thai dishes is a specialty of Chef Jay, like Grilled Cornish Hen Green Curry, Soft Shell Crab Prig and Hot and Spicy Sea Bass to name a few. I loved the Sea Bass recipe…so healthy and delicious, and the vegetables had that “just right” crunch as the fish melted in my mouth. The Hot and Spicy sauce, which is not spicy at all, was the highlight of the dish… loved it! Of course you can enjoy many other traditional Thai dishes like classic Pad Thai (chicken and shrimp) or with lobster, Seafood Clay Pot or Shrimp / Chicken Fried Rice.
When it comes to Chef Jay’s Japanese inspired dishes “Expect the Unexpected”. Start with Suzuki Truffle; thinly sliced sashimi sea bass displayed with micro shiso, truffled ponzu and salt, finished with magnificent house-marinated ikura (large salmon roe). This is a visual culinary masterpiece, and so tender it dissolves in your mouth. This is the first of Jay’s creations that told us something special was happening at Yakuza.
Check out Salmon Yuzu; sashimi salmon, jalapeno onion salsa, dry miso, masago yuzu, micro shiso and mind-blowing yuzu jelly. This dish alone will keep you coming back again and again. The Scallop Mushroom Butter Yaki is amazing, with mixed mushrooms, in a sake butter sauce. Perhaps the most popular dish of all is Salmon Ikura Rice Bowl, classically known as Salmon Ikura Don. Chef Jay’s version has his unique signature on it, and is so popular that occasionally he will run out of it late in the evening. The star of this dish is the marinated and grilled salmon belly, carefully finished with truffle oil, home cured ikura, shiso and delicious rice. Order this for sure when you go!
Finally an extensive sake list and full liquor bar will make this a ”good time destination place” for years to come. Some very intriguing specialty drinks have been created for your drinking pleasure, and Anh at the bar is a pleasure to spend time with. We have enjoyed the White Lotus, made with Grey Goose, Sudashi ShoChu, Calpico and yuzu citrus zest… stunningly delicious. (In case you are curious, Sudachi ShoChu is made from the fruit Sudachi. This fruit is native to Tokushima, just across the bay from Osaka Japan. Sudachi tastes like a cross between lemon and lime with a bit of orange).
Many hard to find ingredients like these are used in Yakuza’s cocktails and cuisine, making each visit filled with new discoveries of culinary and drinking adventures.Try the Deadly Kiss or the Tokyo Cooler too. Happy Hour is 4:30 to 6:30 Monday thru Friday…see picture included for details. Lunch and dinner is served Monday through Friday, and just dinner on Saturday and Sunday.
To find out how good these other drinks, and all the Thai and Japanese food we did not talk about here, make a reservation or just stop into Yakuza Modern Japanese and Thai Restaurant and tell them DinnerReviews.com© sent you!!