BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT Yakko-San 17040 W. Dixie Highway

North Miami Beach

305-947-0064 It's generally considered a prime sign of authentic excellence when an ethnic restaurant's clientele includes many people from the nation in question. That's true of Yakko-San, but even more impressive is what you'll find late at night: a lot of chefs. With no fanfare and no public-relations machine, this off-the-glam-track spot has become the late-night hangout where chefs from other Asian restaurants go to dine after their own places close. The draw is fare not to be found at the average Japanese restaurant -- virtually no sushi or yakitori this-and-that, but Japanese home cooking. Portions are sized like tapas, so diners can try a large variety of dishes. Some are admittedly strange (like "spicy konnyaku potato alimentary") but most, despite their unfamiliarity, are very accessible: kinpira gobu (burdock root bathed in intensely rich reduced sweet/salty soy sauce), maguro nuta (raw tuna strips and scallions painted with addictive honey-miso mustard sauce), or savory sautéed beef with garlic stems. The feast is on till 3:30 a.m. daily.

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