By GERRY BARKER
Photos by Gerry Barker
Attention, all lovers of sushi: You have a new place in town to pursue your passion.
Sushi by Bou, with locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, continues its expansion in South Florida, with its latest opening in West Palm Beach on May 26, and coming soon to Boca Raton. North Palm Beach Life was among invited media to get a preview of “the modern omakase concept from New York” (where the nationwide chain got its start).
Located at 340 Clematis St. in downtown West Palm Beach, don’t be confused if your GPS says that’s the Vinyl Fish Club. Like their other locations, Sushi by Bou is a restaurant inside a restaurant, styled as a micro “speakeasy” with its décor and ambiance. And about the name — it’s short for one of the concept’s creators, Chef David Bouhadana.
Once our group was ushered inside by Peyton, our personable hostess, it was clear we’ve not in Kansas anymore. Feathered chandeliers hang from the ceiling as a pink neon sign sports the name, “Sushi by Bou” on the wall behind the counter, which seats 12 guests. As a homage to Palm Beach, the chain’s Humberto De Andrade, who did much of the design, has provided small, plastic flamingos to hold our chopsticks. So cute.
While Pam loves her sushi, I have always been reluctant to give it a try. So maybe now is as good a time as any to take the plunge.
In omakase, the chef selects the courses, and Sushi by Bou offers two versions — a 12-course ($60) and a 17-course ($100), each timed for 60 minutes. Before Chef Moon and his team get us started, we try a few of their signature cocktails, including the Shiso Southsider (vodka, simple syrup and lime juice), Gin and Flowers (gin, St. Germain, prosecco, club soda) and Koko Fizz (rum, pineapple juice, coconut syrup and lime juice) — each $17. Our favorites were the Southsider and Koko Fizz, the latter a Japanese version of the pina colada.
We watch as the chefs do their magic, crafting delicate pieces of fish and rice into little, delectable works of culinary art. Throughout, they interact with the guests, even offering us a chance to join in and on one occasion, help apply flames to the food.
When they tell us the chopsticks are there for show, I’m relieved — that’s one utensil I’ve never mastered! Rather, they suggest using your fingers, and then using the wet cloth provided in our place setting. Works for me.
When the sushi starts arriving, the recommendation is to eat it in one bite. Our first course is Hamachi (yellowtail), and per their suggestion, I down it in one swallow. To my surprise, it’s very tasty. We are off to a good start.
As Chef Moon’s fingers fly, the sushi starts arriving at regular intervals, and includes Akami (lean tuna), Gindara (miso cod), Hotate (scallop) and Unagi (BBQ eel). Despite the image of a slithering sea creature, my favorite was the BBQ eel. It really was delicious. At one point, the chefs passed out shot glasses of sake, and we all toasted to our health.
Sushi lovers should definitely make it a point to try Sushi by Bou. And if you’ve never tried it, like me, you may find out what you’ve been missing. More BBQ eel, please.