The first U.S location of a Japanese restaurant with a weird ‘racoon’ for a mascot comes to South Beach

Friday, 17 November 2017, 12:51:20 AM. Tanuki puts a playful spin on Pan-Asian cuisine, using Miami influences, from Reuben-flavored bao buns to Cuban Elena Ruz-flavored sushi rolls.

Tanuki is a hip Japanese space, the first U.S. location of this Moscow-based chain. While respectful of traditional Japanese cuisine and serving textbook sushi and sashimi, they also serve playful, new-style Pan-Asian dishes. The weekend dim sum brunch with green tea French toast is just one of their cultural riffs. A giant statue of a tanuki (raccoon dog) is in the center of the room of their new South Beach spot. Tables outside flank 11th Street.

Start with These Dishes

Squid ink rice cracker topped with sea urchin and shaved truffle at Tanuki. Linda Bladholm

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Get the fuku “lucky” buns with steamed cottony dough folded around house-cured pastrami with sauerkraut, pickles and mustard. Call it an Asian Reuben. Or try the crab summer roll in butter lettuce with avocado and rice noodles with nutty sesame aioli dipping sauce. The squid ink rice cracker topped with a dab of creamy risotto, eel and custardy uni (sea urchin) blends the flavors of sea and earth in one bite. Raw scallop slices are topped with truffle and panko crumbs. Raw snapper slices are heightened with jalapeño on a small nest of katafi (fine, crunchy phyllo shreds).

Share These Dishes

The Tanuki "burger" composed of tuna tartare with avocado, shiso leaf, butter lettuce and daikon shreds. Linda Bladholm

Order a sushi boat with eight pieces of sushi, eight sashimi pieces and two rolls. A la carte maki include yellowtail with truffle and spicy daikon radish, avocado and tenkasu crumbs for a play of textures. The Miami roll with snow crab, avocado and slices of fresh strawberries with aioli is a kind of Cuban Elena Ruz with rice instead of bread. Vegetarians can order the beet and goat cheese maki with truffle and walnuts, served with a bright citrus vinaigrette. Share a bamboo steamer of dim sum made by the Chinese chef, Wei.

There’s chicken shumai, topped with shaved truffle, that adds an earthy aroma and garlic-infused taste. Other great sharing dishes include Peking duck dumplings in pumpkin rice wrappers, tom yum shrimp moneybags in an ethereal cloud of Thai hot and sour soup foam.

Dim sum dumplings in a bamboo steamer at Tanuki. Linda Bladholm

Decadent beef and foie gras bao buns and crystal shrimp har gow with clear wheat wrappers change things up. Roasted carrots with smoked yogurt and pistachio crumble or crispy Brussels sprouts with truffle vinegar are good sides. Yakisoba (stir-fried buckwheat noodles) come mixed with short ribs in a sweet tangy Bulldog sauce, hybrid of a ketchup, soy, Worcestershire and pickled ginger. Other offerings include duck ramen and a tuna tartare “burger” on a crispy rice bun with daikon shreds, avocado and herbaceous shiso leaf.

Save Room for Dessert

The warm green tea fondant is an Asian spin on a lava cake. It’s dusted in matcha green tea powder with a molten center that oozes out into a scoop of green tea gelato. It pairs well with a pot of jasmine team from Miami’s Jojo Tea.

Warm green tea fondant with matcha gelato. Linda Bladholm

What Makes It Special

When executive chef Drew Andrade, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles and worked at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, is out of town, he leaves the restaurant in the hands of chef with deep Miami roots. Chef Juan Ramos worked at Alinea in Chicago and the late Michy’s, by Miami’s Michelle Bernstein.

If you go

The place: Tanuki

Address: 1080 Alton Road, Miami Beach

Contact: 305-615-1055, tanukimiami.com

Hours: 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Monday-Thursday. Noon-midnight, Friday and Saturday. Noon-11 p.m., Sunday

Prices: Appetizers $8-$16, dim sum $11-$14, sushi $12-$26, sashimi $4-$18, entrees $13-$36

FYI: Dim sum served noon-4 p.m., Friday-Sunday. Happy hour daily 5-7 p.m. Parking behind the restaurant

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