Overall impression: There's nothing more disheartening than an empty restaurant at 8:30 on a Saturday night. But there we were at Fusionarie Japanese Signature, the oddly named (mostly Japanese) restaurant at Royal Palm Place. The menu isn't so much fusion as it is a collection of dishes from Japan, China and Thailand.
Ambience: With its blond furniture, blond flooring and faux bonsai mounted on the walls, it's everything you want a Japanese restaurant to be. Unfortunately, the chairs force you to sit uncomfortably forward, and the lights could be dimmed a few notches.
Starters: While the ingredients in the rolls were fresh, the sushi chef at Fusionarie is a little heavy-handed for my tastes. Good rolls are all about restraint, but cream cheese was overdone in two rolls. I'm thinking particularly of the volcano ($13) with lightly fried salmon, cream cheese, avocado and spicy kani, and the sexy girl ($13) with shrimp tempura, pineapple, cucumber and cream cheese. There's also a huge selection of sashimi (two pieces per order), including white tuna ($6), scallop ($7), red snapper ($7) and eel ($6). Adventurous diners may choose to order omakase, in which the chef presents a series of sushi, sashimi, rolls and appetizers. Prices start at $50 per person and go up to $90. There's also a separate dim-sum bar with Japanese and Chinese tapas, including shumai ($5), crab rangoon ($5), chicken satay ($5) and honey-roasted pork ($8).
Entrees: From the Contempo Japanese section of the menu, miso black cod ($22), which is marinated in shiro miso, had a lovely caramelized flavor, but it was ever so slightly overcooked. Shrimp pad Thai ($14) was a noble version of this classic dish, but it was nothing remarkable. From the Classico Chinese section of the menu, crispy tangerine chicken ($14) wasn't crispy, and I was turned off by the quality of the grisly chicken.
Sweet! I loved the green-tea pudding with red beans ($7) and the green-tea creme brulee ($7). Both were refreshingly less sweet than what we normally ingest at the end of a meal.
Service: Mostly outstanding. I only wish we didn't have to ask for serving spoons when it was clear we were sharing dishes.
Dining deal: Check out the $9.99 lunchtime bento boxes, as well as the happy-hour drink specials, appetizers and rolls from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
jtanasychuk@SouthFlorida.com or 954-356-4632. Read his blog at SouthFlorida.com/sup and follow him on Twitter at @FloridaEats.
Fusionarie Japanese Signature
Royal Palm Place, 509 Via De Palmas, No. 79, Boca Raton
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Beer and wine
Sound level: Conversational
Outside smoking: Yes
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lot or valet