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Hard Rock to open $12 million Japanese restaurant

The Seminole Hard Rock will up its culinary game with the January opening of a $12 million Japanese restaurant, called Kuro.

The resort hired executive chef Alex Becker, who has international experience at two of the world's most respected Asian restaurant brands, Nobu and SBE's Katsuya. His most recent assignment at Katsuya was opening locations in Kuwait and Dubai.

Becker, 37, said he jumped at the opportunity to build a restaurant around his own likes and dislikes.

"It's to get my hands back into creating everything around my own concept and to design my own food and my own menu," Becker said.

Spearheading Kuro's arrival is Justin Wyborn, vice president of food and beverage at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Before arriving at the Hard Rock 18 months ago, he was part of a team that remade the culinary offerings at a casino in Australia.

"We actually put a billion dollars into our Sydney casino," Wyborn said. "We regentrified the entire casino, from more of a locals market to a more international stage."

The re-do included the opening of a branch of New York chef David Chang's popular Momofuku as well as a steakhouse and Italian restaurant.

"We definitely came out here to change the game," said Wyborn, who hopes to attract more Asian gamblers with the arrival of Kuro, which means black in Japanese. "We're definitely looking to bring in a lot of players from Macau and Singapore. We only had one fine dining restaurant, which was Council Oak. We needed one more fine dining restaurant, and Japanese just made sense."

Kuro's average per-person check will be $90, he said, compared to $98 at Council Oak.

The 240-seat Kuro, which will have a view of the resort's swimming pool, is being designed by David Mexico, whose credits include Bobby Flay's Bar American and several Nobu restaurants.

"Alex will have a Ferrari of a kitchen" and the restaurant will have a staff of 90 people, said Wyborn. Along with all of the regular kitchen positions, there will be nine sushi chefs.

Becker has been sourcing local produce and seafood as well as Japanese beef and fish. "The idea is that we'll have a farm fresh approach to Japanese food," he said. "Everything's rooted in Japanese cuisine, but we are going to have those moments where we play outside of the box." or 954-356-4632.

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