I always seem to drive south when I go for dinner in Miami. Dade County is where the majority of my restaurant reviews come from. I finally ventured north to Hallandale in Broward County to try Etaru, at 111 S. Surf Road in the former Hyde Beach Kitchen that I wrote about last year. I am not surprised that it closed, it was on my not recommend list. The setting has barely changed, why bother when you are steps from the ocean and beach, and have remarkable views, a sexy patio, bar, restaurant and beach club. There are lots of natural woods and neutral tones. There are floor to ceiling glass windows and doors with a beautiful patio overlooking the beach and ocean.

Zuma co-founder, Rainer Becker has opened this restaurant under the Zuma umbrella. But folks, don’t get too excited, it is no Zuma. However, having said that, people in Hallandale and surrounding areas can now dine at an upscale, Japanese, contemporary Robatayaki restaurant, with a beautiful waterfront setting. They also prepare maki, sashimi, and tempura, as well as Asian inspired cocktails. Is the food exceptional, no? Is the service consistently good, no? But it is a far cry better than the last restaurant there It also offers the best Japanese food around for miles. You won’t get a bad meal here, just not a memorable one.

Executive Chef Sergio Rivera oversees the kitchen and spent 10 years at Nobu Miami. He was also part of the team to open Makoto. So I know they can improve the quality of the food here.

After waiting 15-20 minutes to come to our table and finally offer us a menu and drink, our server Crystal couldn’t have been nicer. She was also extremely apologetic when our prime filet, that we ordered as medium, came well done. She whisked it away and produced a perfectly cooked one. Our black kampachi was chewy, but that may be the nature of the fish. The presentation and truffle dressing was lovely. The crispy shrimp maki was fine, not outstanding. Ditto the rock shrimp with spicy sauce. NOBU deserves the gold star on this dish. The corn cooked on the robata grill is one of my favourite dishes at Zuma. It doesn’t compare here. However, I do like the idea of slicing it lengthwise in quarters, it makes for easier eating. Why not use the same recipe as Zuma?

I did enjoy the asparagus in the sweet soya sauce. The steak was also quite good the second time around. Our dessert of passion fruit mousse and fresh fruits was light and refreshing.

Would I make a special trip there again? Quite frankly, no. However I still believe for people in the area, or people not wanting to drive south in the abhorrent traffic in season, it is a good alternative.

Valet parking ONLY is provided at $13 if your ticket is validated, otherwise expect to pay $20. Open for dinner daily, as well as lunch/brunch on weekends. I recommend an outdoor table weather permitting. They also offer casual dining at the beach bar. The restaurant is located behind the large water tower in Hallandale.

Happy Dining,
Shanea

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