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SAIA at B Ocean a sexy date night setting

Miami Herlad


It’s hard to imagine that we’re dining in what was once a Waffle House inside a Holiday Inn. Totally revamped and redecorated, it’s now SAIA in the shimmering B Ocean Fort Lauderdale.

Instead of chowing down on bacon and eggs, we’re savoring sushi rolls with ingredients like blue crab, shrimp tempura and seared scallops and bowls of Thai curry lobster in a chic setting that takes advantage of prime ocean views, albeit across the street.

The lobby of the 240-room hotel is pretty flashy, with pulsing neon and glimmering light fixtures that look like water bubbles, yet SAIA has a subtle, soothing atmosphere that’s sexy enough for a date night.

Service is exemplary for an oceanfront restaurant. On both visits, our young servers were charming, accommodating and knowledgeable enough to make smart recommendations.

SAIA’s exotic-sounding name (pronounced “saya”) is actually a cleverly disguised description of its location at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and State Road AIA.

The sleek restaurant is decorated in dark woods, with an elegant, illuminated sushi bar that frames an open kitchen. Eight-seat, high-top tables can handle groups, with more private tables by the windows.

Chef Subin Chenkorsorn (formerly of The Delano) offers an intriguing menu melding Japanese, Thai and Caribbean influences. Prices aren’t high by beach standards, but a meal can get expensive if you have a huge appetite. Small plates start at $10, but sushi, sashimi and roll combos go as high as $39. And be aware that plates listed as shareable are not huge, family-style portions.

Dishes arrive as they’re ready, beautifully presented on classic white plates, each piece of fish or chicken carefully garnished. We began with a lovely serving of tamari scallops, each bite a delightful, sea-salty sensation. Paper-thin tuna sashimi wrapped the scallop-crabmeat mixture in plump bundles topped with dollops of green tobiko caviar.

Sushi chefs slice and dice individual servings of fresh-water eel, Japanese mackerel, fatty tuna belly, salmon and other fish plus octopus and squid, but we focused on intriguing rolls like the fire dragon. While not fiery hot, the flavorful rolls are topped with spicy tuna framing shrimp tempura with avocado and pretty tufts of snow crab.

The soft-shell crab roll is unlikely to please sushi purists with its cute pink soy wrappers and fried soft-shell crab, but it’s a fun choice, paired with avocado, arugula and a rich eel sauce. The Ocean Blue roll is another stretch for aficionados, but a guilty pleasure teaming eel with creamy boursin cheese, avocado and a crab stick.

Hot dishes include delicious shirome spice — small, crisp flounder fillets plated with stir-fried veggies and a sweet-spicy chile-garlic sauce that didn’t overwhelm the delicate fish. The Thai curry lobster brings a poached tail, sliced hearts of palm and small slices of pineapple swimming in an aromatic coconut milk broth spiked with Thai chile paste and kaffir lime leaves. You’ll want to order extra rice (we didn’t know until we saw the check that it was $4, our server’s only misstep), to sop up all the wonderful broth.

Small cutlets of pan-seared Siam chicken are a little bland, but again, we could lap up the kicky coconut milk sauce spiked with lemon grass, galanga and tomato oil.

After-dinner drinks feature slow-melting ice spheres, but the real treats are desserts like banana tempura with coconut ice cream and fresh berries, lemon grass-kissed crème brûlée and mochis, small rice-flour shells encasing green tea ice cream nestled in a raspberry sauce with fresh berries.

You can always work off a few bites with an after-dinner stroll along the beach.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/30/2291074/sa1a-at-b-ocean-hotel-a-sexy-date.html#ixzz1RFI6MNtn

By Rochelle Koff


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