271 S.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton; 561/544-0087
A line of guests runs out the door and into the courtyard as we arrive—testimony to the fact that this Japanese restaurant that has presided for nearly a decade on a Royal Palm Place corner is still welcoming devoted diners and delivering consistent, premium dishes.
The evening’s cocktails, a lychee martini ($12) and green tea mojito ($12), were both refreshing and balanced. I have found it hard to find a suitable lychee martini that allows the aromatic flavors of the fruit to come through, but this one succeeded. I’ve also had excellent mojitos and terrible ones, and Yakitori’s hit both minty and citrus notes without being overwhelmingly sweet. As you would expect, the restaurant also has an extensive sake collection in addition to Japanese beers, dessert drinks like the chai tea with a splash of RumChata, and popular shots like a lemon drop.
Take time to peruse the vast menu, and don’t forget to wait for the chef’s daily specials and fresh catch of the day. We started with a spicy tuna pizza ($14); a generous amount of scarlet red tuna topped with tomato, onion, avocado, cilantro, spicy mayo and eel sauce was a well-seasoned opener. We also enjoyed the yellowtail carpaccio special ($17); the thinly sliced fish sprinkled with crunchy garlic and a light soy drizzle was both simple and enticing. The third sushi appetizer, the salmon sashimi new style ($14), featured the fish hugging small pieces of Asian pear so that two textures—both soft and crunchy—flourished with a hint of truffle oil, sea salt and dry miso powder.
With such a variety of rolls, including raw, cooked and cucumber-wrapped, it was hard to choose, but we decided on the Tsunami ($16) and Out Of Control ($15). The former came with spicy yellowtail, asparagus and jalapeño wrapped in soft, plump rice and topped with spicy tuna, avocado and tempura flakes that delivered a kick. The latter was a delightful combination of tuna, salmon and yellowtail wrapped in soy paper and finished off with thin slices of creamy avocado, smoky eel sauce and crunchy tobiko, or fish roe.
For both protein and vegetable entrées, check out the robata grill menu along with the kitchen selections. The Mongolian beef ($17) served up sweet and tender stir-fried meat tossed with carrots, onions, scallions and a spicy chili Mongolian sauce that gave it just a slight hint of spice. While I’ve had my share of basic fried rice, the Yakitori Signature Fried Rice ($15) was anything but that. Instead it was a savory dish of al dente black rice mixed with chicken, crunchy peas, broccoli, zucchini, carrots and egg.
Desserts here are fried, for the most part: Think tempura banana, fried ice cream and tempura cheesecake ($7), which was a warm and crunchy way to end our satisfying meal.
IF YOU GO
PARKING: Lot and valet parking
HOURS: Sun., Noon to 10:15 p.m.; Mon.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.; Fri., 11:30 a.m. to 11:15 p.m.; Sat., Noon to 11:15 p.m.
PRICES: Entrees $25 – $125