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Tokyo Blue **

4040 Galt Ocean Drive, Fort Lauderdale  (In the Ocean Manor Resort),  954-566-2122             

 Great Pan-Asian food by former Nobu chefs, in a sleek and mordern ocean front setting  

 

 

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By Jana Soeldner Danger       
 
 Creatively prepared, mostly Asian fare combines with a gorgeous view of the sea at Tokyo Blue, a restaurant and nightspot that opened recently at the Ocean Manor Resort in Fort Lauderdale.
 
 Not surprisingly, Tokyo Blue is about Japanese cuisine, but the menu developed by Chef Mai, formerly of Nobu, also features Thai and Peruvian cuisines. Co-owner Frank Frank Talerico manages the front of the house.
 
 The chic, urban décor is stylishly casual. At the entrance, a large, lighted aquarium filled with colorful tropical fish is an arresting visual focal point. A stunning glass bar, lit dramatically from behind with cobalt-blue LEDs  seats 35. Libations offered include a martini that actually smokes in the glass and fusion saki drinks. Five nights a week, a DJ spins music.
 
 The dining room overlooks the resort’s pool and the ocean beyond, and there is outdoor seating on the patio. Inside, black wood-topped tables and black ladder-back wood chairs soften the sleek feel of the space. Music in the dining room is upbeat, but not so loud it is disruptive to conversation. During our weeknight visit, the music in the dining room became more classical as the evening progressed.
 
 Tokyo Blue is one of the very few restaurants we have been to in South Florida that offers white napkins to patrons dressed in light-colored clothing, and black ones to those in dark attire, the idea apparently being to avoid any possibility of visible lint. It is a small touch that makes a diner feel pampered.
 
 The food at Tokyo Blue is very good. After reading the menu, it was difficult to make choices because there were so many intriguing dishes. There are about 40 types of sushi and sashimi available (the sushi bar stays open later than the kitchen), and the varied wine list is reasonably priced.
 
One quibble: The wine glasses are cheap, thick barware. A place that bills itself as upscale, has other attractive tableware, and offers a good wine list, might consider having glasses to match its image. For many of us, the better glasses do make drinking wine decidedly more enjoyable, and many say, make it taste its best.
 
Be aware that an 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to checks. The information is printed on the menu, but it can be easy to miss.
 
 Appetizers
 
While everything we ate at Tokyo Blue was enjoyable, perhaps the star of the evening was a wonderfully rich foie gras appetizer special, layered with a wafer-thin sliver of delicately flavored Asian pear,  a medallion of dusky eel, and a sweet hint of orange marmalade. The combination of tastes and textures was outstanding, and left me wishing the appetizer was entree-sized.
 
 A shrimp dumpling ($8) — tender but not too soft —was filled with fresh and flavorful shrimp with a mildly spicy tang on a bed of chewy seaweed.
 
Other appetizers include salmon carpaccio ($12); roast duck ($14); toro tart ($24); seafood or lobster ceviche ($16 and $22); and tenderloin or big-eye tuna tataki ($16).
 
 Entrees
 
  One of the chef’s specialties is Bali lobster ($34), which was quite delicious. The fresh, sweet lobster was steamed to perfection and served with large, flavorful shrimp and scallops. All were bathed in a yellow curry sauce, mild enough not to interfere with the delicate taste of the shellfish. Green peppers and onions delivered some crunch, and lima beans provided color and a touch of bitterness. The dish was attractively served on banana leaves.
 
The sea bass was even better, one of the best versions I have had. Pan-seared to a golden crispness on top, the thick, steak-like cut of fish had a firm, cooked-just-right interior. Seasoned only with sea salt and pepper, the bass was served on a nage of bittersweet balsamic teriyaki sauce. The sauce was an appropriate and flavorful complement, but in truth, the fish itself was so good that it really didn’t need any kind of accoutrement.
 
Among the other entrées are miso-glazed black cod ($26); panang curry with chicken, beef, duck, or lobster ($18-$32); yellowtail snapper ($35); garlic squid ($18); two styles of duck ($26); pad thai ($22); and garlic shrimp ($26). There area also a 34-ounce  USDA Prime ribeye steak for $86, and Wagyu Kobe beef for $25 per ounce, with a three-ounce minimum.
 
 Desserts
 
 Desserts at Tokyo Blue are satisfactory, but they are not the restaurant’s strongest point. The chef does not print a dessert menu, and selections can vary.
 
We finished our meal with a plate of thinly sliced, fresh mangos surrounding a pillar of sticky rice. Cherry sauce was a sweet and colorful accent. We also enjoyed banana dipped into dark chocolate and then rolled into a pastry casing.
 
On a recent weeknight, we overheard an apparently satisfied Tokyo Blue patron remark, “I would definitely bring other people here.” It is a deserved compliment, and after our visit, we felt the same way.
 
Tokyo Blue
 **
4040 Galt Ocean Drive, Fort Lauderdale  (In the Ocean Manor Resort),  954-566-2122  
 

Hours: Mon.-Thu. 5-11 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 5 p.m.-midnight; Sun. 5-11 p.m.

Prices: Appetizers $5-$22; entrees $18-$86) desserts $7-$10

Liquor: Full bar

Ambience: Upscale casual

Cards: All major