First impression: It's hard to believe a quiet 18-seat restaurant that combines French and Japanese culinary traditions has found an audience in the noisy world of Broward County restaurants. Open for three and a half years, chef-owner Iwao Kaita's flavor fusions are subtly elegant, his presentation pristine and portion sizes never overwhelming.
Background: Kaita worked at two exceptional South Florida restaurants before going out on his own: Nobu in Miami Beach and Café Boulud in Palm Beach. The restaurant was named in honor of 18th century Japanese artist Toshusai Sharaku who introduced Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh, who both worked in France, to his print making style.
Starters: Classic red wine braised beef short ribs ($14) get redone with the addition of miso in the braising liquid. They were a special one night. Roasted Asian yams in blue cheese ($6), another special, combines two of my favorite flavors in one dish. While cold creamy lemon grass soup ($4) may not always be on the menu, it ought to be.
Entree excellence: Roasted sesame crusted salmon ($23) is served with plum sauce, Savoy cabbage and green beans. Pan seared scallops and sea urchin ($32) with sauteed spinach and shitake mushrooms is new to the menu. When I tried it, the perfectly cooked scallops were served in a sauce that only hinted of sea urchin. A tender braised curried chicken leg ($14), now only on the lunch menu, is layered with flavor. Included in the prix fix menu is a very good 6-ounce filet mignon in red wine sauce with baby carrots, bok choy and pearl onions.
Sweet!: The French/ Asian fusion shines most brightly at dessert, with a silky jasmine flan ($8) and a sesame brulee ($7). Both dishes introduce a new flavor to a classic. Just as good is chocolate souffle ($8) or a simple scoop of green tea ice cream ($3)
Service: Professional and attentive, but never obtrusive. The night we dined, just one server handled the entire dining room.
Dining deal: The best way to experience Café Sharaku is with the $33 prix fixe dinner which includes the day's soup or salad, a main course, dessert and coffee.
Contact dining correspondent John Tanasychuk at email@example.com or 954-356-4632. Read his blog at SunSentinel.com/sup and follow him Twitter.com @FloridaEats.