The Raw and the Cooked

Sushi is versatile and may be consumed as an appetizer or a main course. Japan Hill offers albacore as a special, and the slices of buttery white tuna, molded over vinegared rice, were mild and delicious. The restaurant also lists more than 20 rolls -- logs of rice, vegetables, and fish wrapped in seaweed and then sliced. An akira roll, filled with raw tuna, salmon, and yellowtail snapper, was fresh and tasty, though the slices were a bit thin.

The sushi aficionado will be drawn to the "love boat," a house specialty. The $49.50 treat is hardly a Princess cruise ship -- the assortment of sushi, sashimi, and rolls was arranged on a fish-shaped platter rather than on a more typical bamboo boat. Still, the fish was marvelous, chilled to a perfect temperature and free of distracting, toughening fibers. The "love boat" makes for a satisfying meal for two to three people.

The Korean house specialty also features a combination of foods, only they're cooked delicacies. In fact, they're barbecued -- the chicken, shrimp, and strips of beef, all marinated beforehand, are grilled in front of the customer, who takes the tidbits from the server as soon as they're done. (Only a few of the tables have grills; diners should be sure to request one if they're eating Korean.) We especially loved the succulent beef. A tangy shredded-lettuce salad, served on the side, was an excellent textural contrast. The Japanese versions of the grilled meats -- chicken and beef teriyaki -- weren't nearly as good. The beef was tough, the chicken dry, and the teriyaki sauce too potent.

We went back to Japan for dessert and were disappointed by sour banana fritters. The chunks of tempura-battered fruit were decidedly unappealing, as if starchy plantains had been used instead of sweeter, more pliant bananas. We probably should have done what the Korean businessmen seated next to us did -- BYOS (Bring Your Own Scotch). Then, by the end of the meal, dessert wouldn't have mattered so much. Nor would the fact that Japan Hill, a.k.a. Da Mee Rak -- half Japanese, half Korean, and at times half-hearted -- is an apparent contradiction.

Japan Hill/Da Mee Rak. 7225 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Lauderhill, 954-572-9197. Lunch Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner from 5 to 11 p.m.

Akira roll
$4.95

Harusame salad
$5.95

Naeng myon
$7.95

Barbecue combination
$13.95

Banana tempura
$3.50

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