The Law on Raw

Shizen

Fleshy cubes of snapper breaded with coarse panko crumbs and fried to sweet white succulence came cradled in the curved, fried fish frame they'd been removed from. Lemon slices leaned on the snapper, but a promised splash of "hot oil and scallion" went undetected. We asked the waiter if there was any sauce or dip he could bring over, and he obliged with fiery kimchee sauce and a salty/sweet eel sauce that in Japan is known as "anago nitsume" -- traditionally prepared by simmering eels in the same pot of water, day after day, for several months, then reducing the liquid down to a thick black glaze.

Seems to me that a clientele daring enough to try eel glaze or grouper liver might also be willing to brave some exotic sake (pronounced SAH-keh, not SAH-kee), but Shizen serves only four varieties. On one visit, we snubbed the sake and wine lists altogether and requested only tap water with lemon. A subtle expression of dismay crossed our waiter's face, and he exuded a bit of attitude -- until we later ordered drinks, that is, and also put in a substantial dinner order. From this point on, his demeanor noticeably improved. I should also note that he was, from the start, well-informed and adeptly attentive to our needs.

A grouped-on grouper
Colby Katz
A grouped-on grouper

Details

954-763-8163. Lunch and dinner served Monday to Friday from noon till midnight, dinner Saturday from 6 p.m. till 2 a.m., Sunday from 5:30 till 11 p.m.
Closed Location

It used to be that a Japanese meal would end with rice, pickles, and tea, but nowadays, one of that country's most popular desserts is tiramisú -- meaning that places like Shizen are pretty much left to their own devices in regard to coming up with finishes fit for the American sweet tooth. Many have responded with innovative fusions such as yuzu crème brûlée, tempura fried cheesecake, or ice creams infused with red bean or green tea. Shizen favors the last approach and offers ginger and mango along with the other two flavors. You can also try "mochi," a trio of red bean, green tea, and ginger ice cream balls wrapped in paper-thin rice dough; the wrappings are typically melt-in-your-mouth soft, but here, they were stiff and chewy. Well, no restaurant is perfect, but Shizen's food is so good, it ought to be illegal.

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