Celebrity chef and Philadelphia-based restaurateur Michael Schulson has unveiled his latest izakaya concept, a modern twist on a Japanese gastropub with small plates and sushi. It’s part of the Diplomat Resort and Spa’s $100 million transformation.
“Living in Asia allowed me to truly understand the culture of what Asian food really is,” Schulson says. “I learned that food starts by using fresh ingredients and ends with amazing technique that enhances the flavor. You must balance the flavors with sweet, salty, acidic, spicy and texture, which creates the perfect umami. The albacore tuna with the onion ponzu is a great example [$9].”
Truffle shiitake ($4) is one of many open-flame robatayaki dishes. Other standouts: scallop sashimi with wasabi and yuzu zest ($12), toro caviar ($21), broiled sea bass with truffle soy ($25) beef short rib for two ($48) and ice-cream sushi for dessert ($8).
Cocktails ($11-$13) feature the Monkitail with bourbon and rye in a smoked, aromatic glass.
Dinner is served Wednesday through Sunday under lanternlike chandeliers that dominate a sultry dining room with wood beams on a soaring ceiling, tufted leather banquettes and metal, gatelike dividers. An enticing lounge, called Nokku, is hidden in the back with four private karaoke rooms.