South Florida Sushi “best of” Awards for 2011

Here is our totally subjective list of standout sushi items in South Florida for the past year. Being highly subjective means you won’t find any tempura cream cheese rolls on this list.

It should be noted that there are sushi-boatloads of worthy runner-ups we’re dying to mention. But to start listing them too would defeat the purpose of having a “Best Of” list. So here goes:

10. Best Futomaki – Sasaya Grocery, Fort Lauderdale
This place has the best futomaki in town. It’s huge, but you can order a half of futomaki

9. Best Red Bean Yokan – Daimatsu Sushi in Boca Raton.
This is the only place around which makes homemade Japanese desserts like Yokan fresh every day. The packaged, rubbery stuff in Japanese supermarkets may not excite you, but try a freshly made batch with a fresh cup of Japanese green tea and you’ll understand.

8. Best Takoyaki – Maido Japanese Restaurant in Doral.
Maido features a couple of Kansai-style Japanese culinary wizards who love to cook their comfort food. One of our favorite “street food” items in this style is takoyai. It’s a Japanese style fritter, made from rice meal, red ginger and seasoning along with small pieces of of octopus (tako), then it’s deep fried until golden crispy, and topped with special sauce. Maido Japanese Rest does these as well as anyone, anywhere.

7. Best Chawanmushi – NAOE in Sunny Isles.
This humble Japanese custard is usually not something noteworthy. But in this case it is a subtle mushroom creation that is sublime. Chef Cory prepares the most delicious one we’ve ever tried!

6. Best Tonkotsu Ramen – Maido Japanese.
They make the most addictive, belly-warming, soul uplifting tonkotsu ramen in town. This is a must-try!

5. Best Chirashi – Matsuri in Miami.
The deluxe chirashi has generous and perfectly cut fresh pieces of toro, and nice fresh serving of uni on shiso leaf. All of it sits atop textbook perfect rice – just heavenly.

4. Best Hakata Ramen – Sushi Joe in Doral.
The kitchen manager is from Kyushu, where this dish is a specialty. Next time you’re in the area, stop in and try this outstanding meal.

3. Best Udon – Daimatsu Sushi in Boca Raton.
Very few sushi chefs go to the trouble of making everything possible from scratch, but the Udon here features the best tasting homemade broth we’ve ever tasted!

2. Best Seafood Soup – Chef Yozo, Bluefin Parkland.
Chef Yozo prepared a broth for us featuring shitake and ginger flavors, and cooked some shrimp and Hokkaido scallop in the soup. Hard to imagine the depth of flavor by simply looking at pictures, but trust us, it was devine!

1. Best Uni – NAOE.
Chef Kevin Cory orders these orange, nutty slabs of creamy bliss by the box from Hokkaido, the world’s sushi seafood capital. If you love uni as much as we do you’ll appreciate how marvelous these uni nigiri are!

Have you gotten out there and tried different sushi restaurants where you live? If so, congratulations — consider for a moment what your favorite items were this past year. Here is our list for 2011.

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