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Black kampachi sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing and pickled vegetables

FEATURES

Northern Exposure

By Jen Karetnick

Photography by Michael Pisarri

10.24.17

With standout Japanese favorites on the menu and ambience that makes the most of its oceanside setting, Hallandale Beach’s ETARU is certainly worth the drive

AN INDOOR-OUTDOOR beachside setting. A stylish interior reliant on neutral tones, with furniture, wall and ceiling panels carved from Brazilian ipe wood, and floor-to-ceiling glass that showcases the Atlantic in all its moods. A robatayaki concept that offers quality ingredients, ranging from Japanese grade A5 Wagyu beef to Osetra caviar, prepared by highly trained chefs from diverse backgrounds. You couldn’t ask for a more Miami kind of restaurant than ETARU, which possesses these attributes and more.

There’s only one catch: ETARU isn’t exactly in Miami. Located in Hallandale Beach, ETARU debuted at The Related Group’s Hyde Beach Club in late August. If you think that’s too far to make the trek, here’s some incentive: The two-story establishment was conceived by Rainer Becker, the co-founder of the renowned Zuma eateries as well as ROKA London. ROKA’s Group Executive Chef Hamish Brown, who was on hand for the first month of service, conceived the menus. And head chef Sergio Rivera, a 10-year veteran of Nobu Miami, executes the day-to-day. The talent of this team translates to a superior experience, from presentation to palate, with the initial emphasis on the food staging. Every dish is plated on a variety of handmade Japanese pottery specially imported for the restaurant. It’s done so beautifully that it seems like every sesame seed has been positioned as deliberately as a drop of paint. For the dinnerware buff and Instagram poster alike, the optics lock first.

Fortunately, it’s not just all about looks; the inner ETARU is also a beauty, starting with the preliminary categories of the menu. These sections range from sashimi to maki rolls to tokusen, the last of which means specialties. The sashimi is actually fairly special itself—each glistening piece, ranging from fatty tuna to red bream to freshwater eel, is a pure expression of texture, flavor and seriously impressive knife skills.

Still, sashimi may sound plain next to the descriptions of the maki, which includes a roll made with softshell crab, cucumber, kimchi and chile mayo, and menu standouts like the stunning array of black kampachi sashimi—sliced so thinly in an overlapping fan pattern that it more resembles a tiradito—drizzled with a yuzu-truffle dressing and crowned with mizuna. The latter’s buttery fish, similar to silky black cod, is balanced by the citric, earthy vinaigrette and probing bite of mustard green. It’s an addictive combination. And that’s just one of the signature preparations here.

The sashimi platter for two also includes yellowtail tartare, tuna tartare and oysters.

Ensure a true sampling by ordering the sashimi platter, which is priced per person. It’s an assembly of ice, both block and crushed, upon which fish is posed like swimsuit models, and in which a coterie of tokusen nestle here and there with slices of limes and leaves of greens like abstract art. They include oysters puddled with black vinegar and an autumnal dollop of momiji oroshi (grated daikon mixed with red chile peppers) and a glass bowl of chopped raw tuna spiked with minced scallions and wasabi. A wooden spoonful of Osetra caviar rests beside it, along with half of a quail’s eggshell holding what is mostly yolk. Drop the egg into the tuna, mix and then gently fold in the caviar for a velvety, just-salty tartare. A zingier yellowtail tartare, with a chile dressing and sesame crackers to tone it down a bit, also is included. Separately, you can order molded ovals of prime beef tartare served on nori crisps with a tangle of scallions and ponzu pearls that burst in the mouth.

Continue through the salads and tataki sections to find more decorative delicacies, ranging from a grilled baby gem salad with soy aioli, bacon and quartered eggs that boast a pliable yolk—and tastes like a Caesar salad with Japanese finishes—to yellowtail tuna tataki with avocado, mizuna and apple-wasabi dressing. Since dishes are meant to be shared, order a couple of these complex, umami-inducing bowls before digging into à la carte tiger prawns, wrapped in a crispy, phyllo-like crust or skewered head-to-tail and grilled with garlic and arima sansho, a sauce comprising pepper, sake, soy and sugar. Four to an order, the prawns are as fresh as could be, and you can eat the grilled ones like corn on the cob.

Other items cooked on the robata grill include plush sea scallops, served two to an order and made additionally rich with yuzu mayonnaise; a delicately cooked salmon teriyaki with sansho (Japanese pepper) salt and a squeeze of lemon; a juicy, six-ounce, prime filet sliced and covered with pliant but meaty eryngii mushrooms and wasabi-ponzu sauce; and a sturdy, 10-ounce prime ribeye, brushed with chile and ginger and partnered with a mash of pickled eggplant.

If you now feel like you want to sample the entire menu, well, you can. The venue’s Sunday brunch is a buffet of sashimi, maki, salads and more, followed by entrées such as cedar-roasted baby chicken with chile miso and pork ribs glazed with tobanjan (spicy soy bean paste). The meal is matched with signature cocktails (opt for the Bellini with Japanese plum) and all the Whispering Angel rosé you can drink. Brunch also includes the dessert you might order at dinner if you feel opulent enough: a composition of fruits (from dragon fruit to rambutan) along with sorbets mounted on shelves of ice to keep them from melting and cakes such as the green tea-filled chocolate bombe topping the collection. It’s a fittingly gorgeous ending to what, for Hallandale Beach, is most certainly some kind of beginning.

A diner enjoys a spicy rock shrimp tempura sub.

ETARU
Hyde Beach Club, 111 S. Surf Road, Hallandale Beach, 954.271.3222

Snacks and soups, $4-$5; sashimi, $7-$29; tokusen, $15-$22; maki rolls, $5-$15; salads and tataki, $8-$20; tempura, $14-$16, robata, $8-$40.

Dinner: Mon.-Sat., 5:30-11pm; Sun., 5:30-10:30pm; Lunch and brunch: Sat.-Sun., noon-3pm

GETTING THERE
Don’t get confused by the fire station that fronts Surf Road. Go to the end of the street, where it dead ends at the beach, to find ETARU’s
valet stand.

BEACH EATS
On the first floor, the ETARU Beach Bar serves everything from beverages to breakfast with Japanese influences. Have your eggs Benedict with yuzu Hollandaise on a shiso waffle.

ETARU: PART TWO
A second location of the eatery will open in Fort Lauderdale at The Related Group’s Icon Las Olas in 2018.