Eat at Jo's
South Florida's sushi-loving elite has struck gold at Sushi Jo (319 Belvedere Rd., Number 12, West Palm Beach, 561-868-7893): Witness the Jags, Mercedes, and Lexae cramming its strip-mall parking lot on any given Friday -- you know these babies aren't pulling up for the adjacent mini-mart or thrift store. That parking lot is directly across the street from Biba -- nymphets can polish off some toro tartare and trip directly over to Biba's retro tangerine-dream lounge for some heavy-duty flirting. There's probably not another couple of hundred feet of such condensed cool anywhere north of Sobe.
Even beyond the artfully ripped jeans and backless cocktail dresses, there's much to savor here. Owner Joseph Clark, 33 years old, trained with Japanese chefs in Miami and opened Jo at this location last spring.
He serves tons of toro -- the fatty tuna belly that fishermen used to chuck overboard until it became our turn-of-the-century version of caviar. It's everywhere on the menu, from a toro and black truffle roll ($15) to the toro tataki ($20). Unlike other sushi joints, Jo never runs out of it. A plate of sliced monkfish liver ($16 -- aficionados call it the "foie gras of the sea.") comes artfully decorated with multicolored fish eggs in a pool of sweet sunomo sauce, with a separate miso sauce drizzled on top. Once you get used to the mildly fishy flavor -- like a creamy seafood paté -- this could become yet another expensive habit. Creative fusion rolls are tops: The release roll ($10) is a rich concoction of eel, cream cheese, and avocado inside, strawberry, avocado, and a dusting of macadamia nuts outside. It's sinful. Other favorites include South of the Border (crab, cucumber, avocado, tomato, and cilantro inside; hamachi, avocado, and a yuzu-jalapeno vinaigrette on top). The refreshing sunomo salad ($10) comes in a tall martini glass capped with a slice of lemon: Chunks of vinegary cucumber were nestled with rounds of the freshest chewy octopus and conch, crab, and ginger-infused shrimp.
Occasional specials include stuff you won't find on the menu at the all-you-can-eat sushi bars down the road: A whole aji (horse mackerel) is filleted to order, the sashimi arranged on a plate between head and tail. Clark also flies in specialty fish from Japan like Japanese snapper. Today an island, tomorrow an empire: Sushi Jo at the Ritz Carlton in Manalapan opened on Thanksgiving weekend, and Sushi Jo Boynton will throw open its doors in February.
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