Restaurant Reviews

Doral Japanese-Peruvian Gem Tira.D.Toss Hides in Plain Sight

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Vassallo's Peruvian sushi rolls are the menu's biggest attention-grabbers, and he skillfully avoids overusing potent ingredients. He infuses just the right amount of ají amarillo, a peppery paste that's common in Peruvian cuisine, into velvety mashed potatoes that are cleverly wrapped around a pink cylinder of meaty tuna; then he rests them on slivers of creamy avocado. The cucumber spears mentioned on the menu would have added some crunch, but they were missing. The Rolls-Royce roll includes a meaty slab of bright-orange sweet potato with lukewarm sushi rice that is sweet and tart enough to enliven the shiny slivers of fatty salmon that crown each piece. You can forgive a good dish for having a bad name.

There is even a Peruvian riff on Nobu Matsuhisa's oft-replicated spicy tuna crispy rice. Here the fish is chopped rough so the nubs of meat are easily recognizable, even when coated with a spicy mixture including Japanese kewpie mayonnaise. The savory, thumb-size blocks of tacu tacu, a Peruvian staple of day-old rice and beans fried into a crunchy shell, are far superior to the usual sushi rice.

A larger, even crispier rectangle of tacu tacu is the base for more than a half-dozen buttery shrimp, grilled and then slicked in an addictive blend of garlic aioli and ají amarillo. The rice is studded with white beans cooked in pork stock; it inevitably soaks up the rich, spicy sauce. Rice is also a highlight in the chaufa amazónica. It is coated in a sticky, dark soy sauce and stir-fried with sweet plantains and flap steak.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson