Sushi is considered as much a work of art as much as food, where great care is taken in its many methods of creation. The importance of its appearance is an indicator of its appeal to an educated consumer. Although it is widely available in the quick and easy Western style, the traditional Japanese influence is far from lost.
Koral’s sushi chef Sumio “Sam” Miyashita is from Japan, came to the U.S. 20 years ago, and has been the sushi chef at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort for one year, since Koral’s Cocktail and Sushi Bar opened in September 2009.
Cooking runs in Sam’s family. “In Japan, my family has a restaurant. I love the traditional Japanese way, and my cooking style is a fusion of traditional Japanese and contemporary, California-style Japanese cuisine — Fusion Sushi,” says Sam.
The word “sushi” is the combination of the Japanese word for vinegar, “su,” and the “shi” from “meshi,” which means rice. “Tempura” is Japanese seafood or vegetables, deep-fried in a fluffy, crisp, water-based batter. “Fusion Sushi” refers to the use of non-traditional ingredients in Japanese sushi and tempura dishes. Some examples are broccoli, zucchini and asparagus.
Most of Sam’s creations begin with his signature marinated rice. From there, he adds ingredients like asparagus, cucumber, blue crab, snow crab, salmon and tuna, all, according to Sam, brought, by the power of the Marriott, from Hawaii.
“The ingredients provided by the Marriott are of incomparable quality,” says Sam. “That allows me, every day, to make something completely different than the day before, depending on what ingredients are available. This is what I particularly enjoy about my work at Koral’s.”
400 South Collier Boulevard, Marco
Koral’s Ultimate Tempura Roll, made with shrimp, soft shell crab, blue crab, avocado and asparagus, deep-fried to become tempura, which is, simply, deep-fried sushi, is a bestseller at $17.
The restaurant’s Rising Sun Roll, $14, tempura with cream cheese, scallion and smoked salmon, deep fried and topped with a signature sauce, is another popular choice.
But, the universal favorite at Koral’s, as it may be everywhere, is the Rainbow Roll, $15. It’s the classic in Sam’s Fusion repertoire of tuna, salmon, yellow tail, snow crab, cucumber, avocado and wasabi tobiko.
Your choice of sake accompanies Sam’s Fusion Sushi. Sho Chiku Bai Ginjo is $15. Sho Chiku Bai is $7, and Fu-Ki Plum Wine, $8.
All of these specialty rolls are served from 5 to 11 p.m. at Koral’s, only in the Marco Marriott.
Koral’s was created as a masterpiece in custom design. A one-of-a-kind tile mural, designed and handmade by a Miami artist, depicting a coral reef, decorates the entrance to the restaurant.
Inside, a 20,000 gallon columnar aquarium, always maintained at 69 degrees, houses Hawaiian moon jellyfish, lighted by blue light, that swim, at eye level, as though to a melody only they can hear.
The dining room’s stunning oceanic ambience is evocative of a living coral reef. Overhead, handcarved, wooden beams form a life-sized sculpture of a barrier reef. It took 20 men just to lift each piece into place.
On the floor, 59,000 wooden tiles, each one individually handcrafted, no two alike, were laid by hand.
If you sit at the underlighted, handmade onyx bar, which is underlighted to dramatize its beautiful amber hues, you can keep your drink cold on the ice rail, which freezes to below zero, and is the only one of its kind in this area.
Irridescent, hand-blown, jewel-like glass tiles adorn the sushi station, where you can watch Sam, as he makes every made-to-order dish with his own artistry, each one uniquely created before your eyes.
At Koral’s, delicious sushi, spectacular atmosphere and world-class service will give you an evening like no other. Your dining experience will be a work of art in itself.