By: Jason Perlow
While it has appeared often in the news cycle in the last several years, Venezuela is not the country you often think of when it comes to inspired Latin-American fusion or rich food culture.
And yet, prior to being thrown into economic chaos by the corrupt socialist Bolivarian regime of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela was an extremely prosperous country with vast petroleum and agricultural exports, and its capital, Caracas, which sits only nine miles (15km) from the Caribbean coastline was one of the most beautiful and inviting cities in all of South America, with a rich and diverse history and also a sophisticated dining scene.
Owner Jorge Rios and his family, along with Chef Greg Balsadella, who was trained as a sushi chef for nine years in Caracas, came to the United States and South Florida only three years ago in order to start a new life.
Their dream was to open a restaurant which showcased the Latin American tropical flavors of their home country but with a Japanese and Sushi spin.
Shibuya Sushi Art, on the far western end of Wiles Road just across the street from where the new Coral Springs Costco is being built, is the realization of that dream.
The restaurant is tight, with only a few tables and a small sushi bar. It sits in a quiet shopping strip in the former space of an undistinguished and easily forgotten teriyaki restaurant.
But Shibuya is not boring or easily forgotten. If anything it is a refreshing change from the usual formulaic “ThaiSushi” that dots the landscape in West Broward and Palm Beach County.
The menu is organized into cold and hot appetizers, soups & salads, sushi rolls, poke bowls and cooked entrees.
On our first visit, we began with the Korokke appetizer, which are deep-fried crunchy balls of salmon mixed with seafood topped with colorful caviar, served with tartar sauce.
We liked these, but if you’re going to go with something crunchy to start off with, by all means, get the Sushi Pizza, which is a deep-fried disc of sushi rice, that is topped with raw salmon, avocado, seaweed salad, spicy mayo, and sweet soy (Unagi) glaze. This was a real crowd pleaser.
We also really got a kick out of the “JJ” roll, which is an opulent combination of shrimp tempura, surimi, avocado, Caribbean lobster salad, and steamed shrimp.
If you are inclined to go healthier, an entire section is dedicated to protein-heavy, no rice offerings. The “Donovan”, which is wrapped in soy paper, features tuna, salmon, a spring greens mix and a soy ponzu dipping sauce was a nice refreshing change and was a colorful feast for the eyes as much as it was lunch hour nourishment.
Everything here is as much focused on presentation as it is taste — you almost don’t want to eat it and disturb the Zen-like aesthetics of the plate because it looks so pretty.
One dish that is as much performance art as it is food is the Kobe Ishiyaki, which is made of thin rare slices of Wagyu beef imported from Uruguay. It’s presented on a stone platter and is served with a hot cooking rock that immediately reacts with wisps of smoke when you quickly sear the slices of steak on it.
You then season the succulent meat by gingerly dipping it into a house soy dressing served on the side.
It’s a very decadent but delicious and simple way to eat superior quality steak, which you can also get as a raw carpaccio (Karupatcho) in the appetizer section.
Latin American flavors really show up in the cold appetizer section which features Ceviche and Tiradito, which are actually Peruvian in origin but became very popular in the coastal areas of Venezuela.
The Tiradito Shibuya, which you can get as Tuna or Salmon, features thin slices of sashimi fish, with a house special dressing and dots of yellow Aji pepper mayonnaise which adds an unusual spicy kick and an interesting Latin twist.
Beverages include Japanese, Mexican, and other imported beers, a highly curated selection of sake, and wines from South America, California, and Spain. They also have natural fruit juices for those who prefer to take it easy on the alcohol.
If you haven’t stuffed yourself silly from sushi by this point, the restaurant also makes its own desserts. In particular, the deep-fried tempura Oreo cookies with Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup are a great way to cap off the meal, especially if you can share it with a few friends.
SHIBUYA SUSHI ART
11346 Wiles Rd, Coral Springs, FL 33076
Monday 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday – Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Jason Perlow is a long-time foodie who spent 20 years in the New York City and New Jersey metro areas reviewing restaurants for The New York Times and his personal food blog, Off The Broiler, which he started in 2006 and ran for ten years. He is also the founder of eGullet, a popular food discussion site and not-for-profit organization that was formed in 2001, which was featured on Tony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” cable television program.
As a technologist by profession, he writes the Tech Broiler blog for CBS’s ZDNet web site. He has been a Coral Springs resident since moving to South Florida in 2012.