KOOKY FOR TANUKI
Tanuki is a new South Beach Pan-Asian spot on the corner of Alton Road and 11th Street. The restaurant name is taken from the mythical Japanese talisman of good fortune, manifested as a 7-foot tall Tanuki statue in the center of a very lively dining room. To be honest, I prefer the way Chinese-Americans proffer good fortune – I mean at the very least you get a cookie out of it. But be that as it may,Tanuki impresses with a wide array of Nigiri, sashimi, creative maki rolls, and a Pan-Asian panoply of soups, salads, noodle dishes and entrees (such as a spicy Sichuan-style beef).
As with so many restaurants these days, there is an emphatic focus on distinctive mixology. The drinks here are definitely cutting edge, and extremely tasty. I enjoyed the Setsubun, one of the less whimsical of the signature cocktails (Japanese Whiskey, Vermouth Rossi, barley water and cherry wood Angostura Bitters). Another unusually refreshing libation is the Tanabata (Vanilla-infused gin, umeshu, bee pollen syrup, passion fruit yuzu foam and chia seeds). Other ingredients you might find in your cocktail glass are popcorn rum, rosebud sake, smoked coconut cream, and hickory agave syrup. Tanuki also plays with the classics, like a Negroni with licorice powder and coffee ice.
Also: Sophisticated sake by the glass ($8 to $12) and Japanese beers you don’t often see around here, like Echigo Red Ale ($8) and Tamano Megumi Pale Ale ($12).
Summer roll with King Crab, arugula, avocado, creamy soy $13 and Shrimp tempura ($14):
Thing is, Tanuki is a fun place all around, from the cocktails to the casual atmosphere. It is bright, fresh, colorful…just the sort of restaurant this stretch of South Beach needed. Plus dim sum is getting ready to roll in as well. Tanuki is open 7 days a week, from noon to midnight.