When we used to think of Hollywood, great food was one of the last things that came to mind. It wasn’t until we stumbled upon The Diplomat Beach Resort earlier this year that our mentality changed. The sprawling property is a quality dining destination — one that’s home to over a handful of fun restaurants. Want Italian? Craving a burger? In the mood for seafood? There’s everything here.
Monkitail, the resort’s latest addition, further cements the site’s status as a culinary powerhouse. The Japanese gastropub is the brainchild of Philadelphia-based chef and restaurateur Michael Schulson, who’s known for his Asian concepts like Double Knot and Sampan in the Northeast. With Monkitail, Schulson has another hit on his hands.
As you’d expect from an izakaya, everything at Monkitail is meant to be shared. The menu’s shareable plates cover all the bases: meats, fish, cold items, hot items, robatayaki, sushi, sashimi … you won’t go hungry. Having so many choices can quickly become overwhelming, but the helpful staff will happily guide you through all the selections. While you could order a la carte — and you should if you’re not too hungry — you won’t find a better deal than the Chef’s Tasting Menu.
$65 per person. That’s how much the 10-course menu will set you back — it’s a steal. Plus, it includes one dessert on top of the 10 courses. Don’t worry about rolling out of Monkitail: The portions are perfect. They’re not too small that you’re left hungry and not too big that you’re already full and ready for a nap by round 3.
While the tasting menu is up to the chef’s discretion, we can talk about some of the highlights from our tasting experience. The Big Eye Tuna Special lives up to its name: big on flavor and definitely special. Similarly, the Duck Scrapple Bao Bun packed in succulent protein with a richness that had our taste buds perk up instantly; the everything bun (think everything bagel) was a nice touch that we haven’t come across anywhere else.
Two other small bites that really stood out: the Scallop Robatayaki and Tempura Shrimp Tacos. The former featured huge, tasty scallops on skewers — so simple yet delicious. The tacos were also yummy; you’ll especially like them if you’re a fan of spice (we are). As for the main event, it was hard to choose our favorite. Both entrees — the Broiled Sea Bass and Aged NY Strip — made us smile with every bite. Just thinking about the sea bass as we type this is making our stomachs growl. We feel the same way about the steak, which came with mushrooms and a depth of flavor that had us licking the plate.
Fortunately, dessert was on the lighter side. We were treated to two mini-cones of ice cream, one containing a cherry chocolate flavor and the other a French toast flavor. We finished each in just a few bites, which was about all the space we had left in our stomachs at this point. After our meal, we were invited to Nokku, the restaurant’s cocktail lounge; it features four private rooms with full karaoke capabilities. We passed on the invitation because we needed a nap, but definitely check it out if you have a chance.
Monkitail is another welcome addition to The Diplomat Beach Resort’s star lineup. A few months back, Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s Point Royal brought upscale coastal American cuisine to the area, and now it’s Chef Schulson’s turn in the spotlight. Thanks to these chefs, Miami’s food scene now has some formidable competition.