After an extensive expansion and multi-million dollar renovation, The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood has become a foodie destination with various outlets spearheaded by nationally recognized chefs.
Each meal I’ve had at The Diplomat has been better than the last, and my most recent experience at Monkitail was no different. Chef/Owner, Michael Schulson, is one of Philadelphia’s most successful hospitality professionals and he’s bringing his talents to Hollywood beach with his version of an izakaya, or Japanese gastropub.
The decor is modern and seductive, without sacrificing warmth and comfort. Stunning, large light fixtures hang from the ceiling and serve as a visual focal point. Traditional wall separators serve as a subtle divisor between areas of the restaurant. Tucked away beyond Monkitail’s main dining room is Nokku, a discreet cocktail lounge with four private rooms, each with full karaoke capabilities.
As a self-proclaimed Bourbon lover, my cocktail of choice was The Monkitail with Bourbon, rye, vermouth, barrel stave smoke. With the aroma of smoke served tableside, this cocktail truly is an experience for any Bourbon aficionado. The Monki’s Fist is an Asian twist on the classic flavors of a piña colada, made with sake, coconut, and pineapple. The tropical flavors mellowed the sake and presented an intriguing and well-balanced combination.
As invited guests, our meal began with Hot Hamachi with serrano, shallot and ginger relish.
The sushi selection included the Big Eye Tuna Special with fresh tuna and wasabi.
By far the star of the first course was the Tuna Toro. Fresh tuna and wasabi are presented as traditional tartare with caviar and toast. The dish was surprisingly earthy, which is always an intriguing experience when enjoying seafood.
We then moved on to the Robatayaki course, a technique of slow-cooking food on skewers over an open charcoal flame, and which included scallops and short rib.
The main course featured NY Strip served with ponzu and mushrooms, and broiled sea bass with truffle soy pea shoots with snap peas.
For me, my favorite was the sea bass, which was cooked to absolute perfection.
Before I get into the dessert course, I need to give you a little personal backstory. I had been dying for a soft serve ice cream cone for over a week. At the beginning of the meal, my boyfriend said, “what if they bring us soft serve ice cream for dessert?” I laughed, and told him that this was a fancy, Japanese inspired restaurant and he was crazy.
Lo and behold, a smiling Chef Schulson himself arrived at our table with a trio of mini SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM CONES. I couldn’t believe it. The serendipity added a layer to the dish that I will not forget. It takes a layer of whimsy and edge to step outside the box of traditional constructs and present a dessert that delights and surprises (and fulfills your not so deep dark secret cravings).
Chef Schulson’s newest endeavor of The Schulson Collective, Monkitail, presents a fresh interpretation on contemporary Japanese fare. The oceanside surroundings elevate the already near perfect execution of the meal. The opening of Monkitail is reason number 452 why you need to check out The Diplomat Beach Resort’s growing expansion of "out of the box" dining experiences for guests of all ages.
3555 South Ocean Dr.,
( Photo credit Alex Beck for MIAbites and Monkitail at The Diplomat Beach Resort)