1) Past is Present: The culinary heritage of Executive Chef Taek Lee is essential to the epic foodie story that unfolds inside this wildly popular fusion restaurant overlooking Fort Lauderdale Beach. Guests are treated to a dining experience that reflects Lee’s early kitchen experiences in South Korea and his passion for Japanese cuisine. The Korean portion of the menu leans into spicy and hot dishes, while the Japanese side features artistic renderings of fresh sushi and sashimi. The marriage of these influences results in a culturally rich, flavorful and memorable evening of chef-driven fine dining at its very best. “We try to provide a perfect combination of both styles ideal for mixing and matching so guests can find something that pairs well with their tastes,” says Paul-Antoine Fabre, partner and general manager of Takato.
2) Sharing is Caring: Dishes are prepared in two distinct kitchens; as a result, food comes out as soon as it’s made, ensuring fresh taste with minimal wait times. The process allows guests to choose how to experience their culinary preferences while casually enjoying beachside vibes. “The family-sharing style ensures the dish can be enjoyed as soon as it’s ready,” Fabre says.
3) Fish Tales: Along with the expertly curated sushi menu, seafood standouts include entrees like the melt-in-your-mouth Chilean sea bass, marinated over a full day in soy mirin and honey. Sushi fans should not miss the salmon tataki. It’s made with organic king salmon marinated in miso for six hours, then topped with mustard tofu and served with truffle ponzu. For a delicious starter, the crispy tuna is another must. It features pan-seared sushi rice topped with tuna and mixed with spicy aioli.
4) Meaty Times: Beef isn’t exactly an afterthought at Takato. Look no further than the short rib jabchae on the Korean menu. This traditional dish is braised for six hours and served with noodles made from sweet potato. The plating also includes stir-fried vegetables, and enoki mushrooms. To top it off, the dish is garnished with a fried egg. “It’s my favorite dish to share,” Fabre says. “It’s got a little spice, and it’s very savory.” Then there’s the Wagyu skirt steak with wasabi chimichurri and homemade kimchi fried rice. The dish is served in a hot stone bowl and prepared tableside, so the egg is blended thoroughly into the rice. Wagyu beef fried rice is infused with homemade kimchi made by Chef Lee. It’s served in a granite bowl with a semi-raw sunny-side-up egg, crispy nori, peppers and cilantro sprouts. The rice and bowl heat the egg, creating a crunchy edge. According to Fabre, guests are known to scrub the crunchy rice from the sides and the bottom of the bowl.
5) Gridiron Stamp: It’s no small feat to satisfy the cravings of NFL players who dwell in the trenches. So, it was quite the endorsement when offensive linemen from the Miami Dolphins were seen dining at Takato during the team’s 2023 run on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” (which showcases behind-the-scenes footage of players during training camp and away from the field).
• Takato boasts an outdoor terrace with 150 seats, an indoor sushi bar, a private 10-seat chef-tasting room and a lower terrace for a more intimate setting, “We wanted to create a relaxed tropical atmosphere that caters to different crowds so we can please everyone,” Fabre says. The beachside ambience is complemented by richly flavored cocktails, featuring cultural notes in concoctions such as the Sekushi Sour (made with cognac, apricot liqueur and apple syrup) and the Shikoku Margarita (a blend of mezcal, pineapple, passion fruit, cardamom and agave).
• Along with daily dinner and lunch service, Takato is open every day for breakfast starting at 8 a.m. Happy Hour is from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Featured Happy Hour treats include a spicy tuna roll for $9, pork kimchi gyoza for $8 and a salmon avocado roll for $9. The restaurant also offers gluten-free and vegan dishes.
Where: Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.