Live octopus, fried lentil doughnuts and stewed oxtail are some of the dishes you'll find in Lauderhill restaurants.
Located on the stretch of University Drive between Northwest 44th Street and Inverrary Boulevard are authentic restaurants from the Caribbean and Asia, including Korean barbecue eateries and a Guyanese bakery.
Gabose Korean Barbecue
4991 N. University Drive, Lauderhill, 954-572-4800, Facebook.com
This traditional Korean restaurant has been in Lauderhill for 16 years, when the city didn't have many restaurants, let alone Korean ones.
"There was really nothing here when my father started," recalls Susan Kim, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Fred Kim.
Today, Lauderhill has other Korean restaurants, as well as a Korean market, but Gabose stands out, particularly for its barbecue setups. Barbecue ($20.95-$25.95) is served on a charcoal grill on the table, and guests grill the meat themselves. Each table has a metal exhauster directly above the grill to absorb the smoke. Guests can order short rib, beef tongue, chicken, shrimp, baby octopus or pork. Charcoal barbecue comes with small salad plates, rice and fresh lettuce leaves, to create lettuce wraps.
The Kims travel to Korea every year looking for new ideas and recipes. Even their metal chopsticks come from there.
In the restaurant's early years, Fred Kim says people often entered the restaurant asking for Chinese food, but as Korean food became more popular, those questions are fading. He says customers' lack of understanding of Korean culture never bothers him.
"We are definitely introducing Korean food in South Florida," Kim says. "I gladly educate people about Korean food. It's not a job. It's a pleasure."
4933 N. University Drive, Lauderhill, 954-999-0603; Facebook.com/GabosePocha
About a year and a half ago, the Kims opened a Korean bar with a full kitchen just a few feet away from their restaurant. Think of a Korean craft-drink bar, and you have Pocha.
While at Gabose Korean Barbecue, the dishes are traditional, at Pocha, Susan Kim created original plates such as Korean nachos ($15), made with fried ramen noodles topped with sliced meat, salsa, cheese and pico de gallo, and a beef and octopus burger ($15) infused with cheese.
"We have more flexibility to play around here," Susan Kim says. "It's a spinoff on Korean food with our own ideas."
From September to May, Pocha serves live octopus ($50-$60) imported from Korea. The animals swim in an aquarium next to the kitchen, and go directly from the water to the plate. Sea squirt and sea cucumbers are also served live. Abalone, a type of sea snail, and fluke fish are the only live seafood served year-round.
The bar also features soju ($11-$15), a Korean vodka made with sweet potato and rice. The Kims infuse their soju with fruits, including grapefruit, lemon and peach.
The bar, which stays open until 2 a.m., has a karaoke machine with American and Korean songs that customers can use for free.
Sybil's Bakery and Roti Café
4938 N. University Drive, Lauderhill, 754-223-4384, Facebook.com
This Caribbean bakery and restaurant is well established in New York, with three branches in Queens.
Andre Bernard opened the first Florida Sybil's in Lauderhill four years ago. His grandmother, Sybil Bernard-Kerrutt, opened the original Sybil's in 1976. Bernard, one of her 35 grandchildren, grew up learning about her business and recipes.
"I was proud of it," Bernard, 32, recalls. "I was proud of being a part of something special."
Bernard grew up in Queens, and comes from a Guyanese background. Guyana and other Caribbean countries have Creole, Indian and Chinese influences, and Sybil's Bakery reflects that mix.
Today, Bernard runs the small bakery and roti café, working in the kitchen and managing the business side. He greets clients from behind the counter, which features baked breads, cakes and Jamaican patties, as well as warm dishes such as jerk chicken, vegetable fried rice and curry beef. Sybil's specialty is homemade roti ($6-$9), the large Indian flour tortilla bread filled with split peas, which can be served with chicken, beef, goat, shrimp, vegetables, fish or oxtail stew.
Even though he was born and raised in America, Bernard feels attached to the Caribbean, thanks to the influence of his family and the immigrants his grandmother used to hire.
"My grandmother employed people who wanted to make a living here. When you come from Guyana, or Trinidad, you go to Sybil's," he says. "I grew up with Guyanese people, and Trinidad people. I feel like I grew up there but here."
The bakery also serves homemade traditional Caribbean juices, such as sorrel, made with red hibiscus flower.
"It's great coming to work every day and seeing my grandmother's name up there," Bernard says.
Woodlands Indian Cuisine
4816 N. University Drive, Lauderhill, 954-749-322, WoodlandsUS.com
Three statues of the Hindu god Ganesha and burning incense greet visitors at the entrance of Woodlands Indian Cuisine.
The restaurant features mostly vegetarian South Indian cuisine, as well as some Chinese-inspired dishes. Among the menu's highlights is Chana Bathura ($11.95), a puffy, deep-fried bread served with a chickpea-curry sauce. Standing out on the Chinese corner of the menu is gobi Manchurian ($10.95), an Indochinese recipe made with deep-fried cauliflowers sauteed in ginger, garlic, chili and soy sauce.
Woodlands' daily happy hour includes two glasses of house wine for $9 or two small beers for $7 from noon to 8 p.m. The restaurant is closed from 3 to 5 p.m.