Openings

NYC's Sushi Lab Brings Experimental Omakase to Pompano Beach

Sushi at Sushi Lab
Sushi at Sushi Lab Photo courtesy of Sushi Lab
Peruse the menu at the newly opened Sushi Lab or head over to its OpenTable page to make a reservation, and you might mistake this Broward County newcomer for just one more take on omakase-style dining.

The restaurant's "about us" page gives a mild-mannered, straightforward description of a beachfront restaurant with an "intimate chef's counter where you can experience an innovative omakase dining experience with fresh, locally sourced, and flown-in fish."

What it doesn’t tell you, however, is that your miso soup will be served in a beaker, the yellowtail is smoked beneath a lab glass, specialty cuts of fish are torched before your eyes, and uni is topped with caviar and gold flakes.

It’s all part of the vision by New York City real estate developer Hank Freid and his son Brandon, whose modern take on traditional Japanese dining is now serving on the ground floor of the 106-room Residence Inn by Marriott Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach.

Brandon tells New Times his family’s Impulsive Group purchased the hotel property three years ago, opting to bypass Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County for unexplored territory.

According to Brandon, Pompano Beach presented a promising opportunity to expand its holdings — which include New York City's Sanctuary Hotel, Haven Rooftop, and the Ameritania Hotel — into a burgeoning South Florida market.

“Other areas like Miami and Boca Raton felt oversaturated, but when we started looking into the revitalization taking place in Pompano, we immediately knew this was going to be the next hot spot,” says Brandon.

As with its New York City sister concepts, the Florida outpost serves up traditional sashimi and nigiri with a laboratory-themed presentation.

Sushi Lab first opened as an eight-person omakase at the concierge desk in the lobby of the Sanctuary Hotel. The concept quickly expanded to the building’s rooftop, a second location in East Village, and the Chemistry Room at Sushi Lab, a 30-seat offshoot featuring a 15-course tasting menu in Midtown.
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Sushi Lab offers an oceanfront view from the ground floor of the Residence Inn by Marriott Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach.
Photo courtesy of Sushi Lab
“It’s exploratory sushi — both traditional and nontraditional, with different fish and offerings you wouldn’t find somewhere else,” says Brandon. “How we prepare everything really stands apart from more generic places. We get imaginative in what we do, and how we highlight different flavors — like scientists in a lab.”

As the Residence Inn flagship restaurant, Sushi Lab’s signature $60 omakase will be the main draw. Despite the experimental theme, the offerings aren’t all fusion but instead present creative marrying of complex flavors from both Japanese and French cuisine. The contrast and presentation are meant to offer a touch of excitement.

You'll need a reservation to experience Sushi Lab’s entry-level omakase at the bar, but it's served at the table as well. Dubbed the “Chef’s Selection” and priced at $60 per person, it includes 11 signature pieces doled out over a 90-minute dine. For the more adventurous eater, the $100 “Lab Experiment” will get you 15 courses, each accented with high-end ingredients like freshly shaved black truffle, caviar, and gold leaf.

While Sushi Lab’s focus is on omakase, additional indoor and outdoor seating presents guests with the option of an a la carte izakaya, sushi, and maki menu that includes appetizers, salads, and entree-style main plates. Seated at the bar for omakase, but prefer the bao buns? You can order those, no problem.

Highlights include sharing plates like a choice of miso eggplant, soft shell crab, or pork belly bao buns; mains like seared Wagyu lettuce wraps or a sweet and sour take on chicken and waffles; and a list of specialty sushi rolls including the “Surf & Turf” that pairs spicy tuna topped with torched Wagyu beef or the “Water Dragon Roll” with truffle-dusted barbecue eel, cucumber, and avocado.

“Sushi is still an untapped market in Pompano,” sums up Brandon. “Sushi Lab will offer diners an elevated, high-quality oceanfront omakase and sushi experience, but one that’s also approachable. This is a very different environment from your usual omakase spaces.”

Sushi Lab. 1350 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach; sushilab.com. Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna

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