New Asian Restaurants Are Tops
Spotlight on the Northern Palm Beaches | Volume 16, Number 2, December 2008
ASIAN FIN, 4650 Donald Ross Rd.(Donald Ross Village), Palm Beach Gardens, 694-1900.
Reservations taken. Moderate-expensive. Food ***, Service **.
One of the pleasures of living in North County is enjoying the quality of some of the restaurants that have opened in the last few years. We’ve got splendid Italian, terrific steakhouses and praiseworthy regional American food. But where we’ve come the farthest, I think, is in the realm of Asian food (except Chinese—please somebody open a decent eatery).
Asian Fin has to be one of the best.Owner and chef Tsutomu “Yama” Yamamoto has been around these parts for a long time. His formerly owned Tokyo Garden on Route 1, south of PGA Blvd., which was the area’s first Japanese restaurant. Closed for several years now, he sold the building and eventually returned to his first love, cooking. His reach now is much broader and encompasses not only sushi and sashimi but all kinds of Japanese noodle dishes, small hot as well as cold plates, and, steakfish and seafood entrees. Today it is considered fusion cooking and that’s what it really is.
The eatery is a little jewel box — set in one of the better designed shopping centers built in the last five years. With dark, almost black walnut walls, and one side wallpapered with cherries on a white background, deep orange leather chairs, a compact sushi bar and some outside seating, it may hold 50 people. The restaurant does take reservations and last year when it opened, it was difficult to get in. It is not inexpensive (what fish is, today?) and its entrees order from the mid twenties to almost $30, but is possible, if you eat small plates,dish, you can get away with a moderate tab.
Another plus is its food presentation. Everything comes out looking like a piece of Japanese art. I ordered a cervice of raw salmon and escobar (white tuna) and it was served in two haves of a coconut threaded with paper thin cucumbers, a smidgen of fresh onion and avocado ($12) on a, white, square plate. Not only did it look like a painting, but the fish was so fresh that it could only have been caught an hour before.
Ditto for a naruto maki ($10), a sliced fatty salmon and cucumberroll ($10). A spring mixed salad turned out to be a delightfully innovative surprise ($14) — some crunchy greens laden with grilled hearts of palm, marinated artichokes, warm goat cheese with a crunchy tempura crust and the requisite fresh greens ($14). This was a meal in itself. An appetizer sized order of shrimp and leek dumplings($8), unlike most steamed rubbery noodle pockets served by most Japanese eateries, were feather light and bursting with flavor as was the ginger and scallion dipping sauce that accompanied it. The only disappointment we experienced in the many times we havevisited was a starter of grilled Waygu short ribs ($10) that was sinewyand impossible to cut.
Noodles, anyone? They’re done really well here. The mazesoba seafood $14) contained tubular noodles, subtly flavored, in a perfumed broth that was rich with shrimp, scallops and clams, squid and octopus. Our very selective BallenIsles taster gave it a thumbsup. The Asian Fin yaki udon noodles ($12) emerged from the kitchen with thin, angel hair like pasta and that was stir fried with Chinese broccoli, onions, peas, chicken and napa (a kind of cabbage) in a zesty brown sauce. The noodle king, my husband, called it super. I agreed.
Asian Fin is also open for a multi cultural lunch. There are Kobeburgers ($12) and bento boxes ($10), along with lots of other choices at a considerable saving.
For those into sake, there is a wide selection, but you can also order from a few selections of red and white wine. It would be nice to put a good rosé on the wine list. It would be a perfect accompaniment to the sushi or salads.
This is a real find—a family run Asian fusion eatery that’s both aesthetically pleasing—but better yet— provides very good food.