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Northern Exposure

BY Jen Karetnick | October 24, 2017 | Feature Features National

With standout Japanese favorites on the menu and ambience that makes the most of its oceanside setting, Hallandale Beach's ETARU is certainly worth the drive
Black kampachi sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing and pickled vegetables

AN INDOOR-OUTDOOR beachside setting. A stylish interior reliant on neutral tones, with furniture, wall and ceiling panels carved from Brazilian ipe wood, and floor-to-ceiling glass that showcases the Atlantic in all its moods. A robatayaki concept that offers quality ingredients, ranging from Japanese grade A5 Wagyu beef to Osetra caviar, prepared by highly trained chefs from diverse backgrounds. You couldn’t ask for a more Miami kind of restaurant than ETARU, which possesses these attributes and more.

There’s only one catch: ETARU isn’t exactly in Miami. Located in Hallandale Beach, ETARU debuted at The Related Group’s Hyde Beach Club in late August. If you think that’s too far to make the trek, here’s some incentive: The two-story establishment was conceived by Rainer Becker, the co-founder of the renowned Zuma eateries as well as ROKA London. ROKA’s Group Executive Chef Hamish Brown, who was on hand for the first month of service, conceived the menus. And head chef Sergio Rivera, a 10-year veteran of Nobu Miami, executes the day-to-day. The talent of this team translates to a superior experience, from presentation to palate, with the initial emphasis on the food staging. Every dish is plated on a variety of handmade Japanese pottery specially imported for the restaurant. It’s done so beautifully that it seems like every sesame seed has been positioned as deliberately as a drop of paint. For the dinnerware buff and Instagram poster alike, the optics lock first.

Fortunately, it’s not just all about looks; the inner ETARU is also a beauty, starting with the preliminary categories of the menu. These sections range from sashimi to maki rolls to tokusen, the last of which means specialties. The sashimi is actually fairly special itself—each glistening piece, ranging from fatty tuna to red bream to freshwater eel, is a pure expression of texture, flavor and seriously impressive knife skills.

Still, sashimi may sound plain next to the descriptions of the maki, which includes a roll made with softshell crab, cucumber, kimchi and chile mayo, and menu standouts like the stunning array of black kampachi sashimi—sliced so thinly in an overlapping fan pattern that it more resembles a tiradito—drizzled with a yuzu-truffle dressing and crowned with mizuna. The latter’s buttery fish, similar to silky black cod, is balanced by the citric, earthy vinaigrette and probing bite of mustard green. It’s an addictive combination. And that’s just one of the signature preparations here.

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