// NO MONKEYING AROUND
BELOVED PHILADELPHIA CHEF MICHAEL SCHULSON SHINES WITH HIS NEW JAPANESE RESTAURANT (AND SECRET KARAOKE BAR) MON ITAIL, LOCATED IN HOLLYWOOD’S RECENTLY RENOVATED DIPLOMAT RESORT.
Philadelphia chef Michael Schulson shines with his new Japanese restaurant (and secret karaoke bar), Monkitail, in Hollywood’s recently renovated Diplomat Resort.
Chef Michael Schulson, who made his name at New York’s Buddakan and owns some of the hottest restaurants in Philadelphia, was ready to expand to Miami a few years ago, after his Philadelphia landlord Tony Goldman introduced him to the burgeoning Wynwood area. “I always loved Miami, but I didn’t want to open in South Beach,” Schulson says. “So I’d been waiting for the right opportunity.”
When Hollywood’s Diplomat resort approached the restaurateur, he was dazzled by its extraordinary $100 million renovation plans: “The Diplomat is an iconic hotel, so to get into the Florida market through something like this was kind of a no-brainer.”
The new restaurant, Monkitail— like his award-winning Double Knot in Philly—offers a modern take on a traditional Japanese izakaya, a casual gastropub serving small plates. The menu opens with a host of cold appetizers, like the sophisticated, wonderfully salty toro caviar on toast; a variety of sushi rolls, including the perfectly balanced bigeye tuna rolled in warm rice (a Schulson signature) and topped with avocado purée; and fresh sashimi, like the buttery golden-eye snapper.
The star of the menu, though, is
the huge selection of robatayaki—over 40 different skewers of meat, fish, and vegetables, from Kobe beef, lamb, and quail to scallops and octopus to king oyster mushrooms and miso eggplant—cooked slowly over a charcoal grill. The skewers receive a simple treatment of salt, togarashi pepper spice, and yakitori sauce before they’re gently grilled to perfection.
“The Japanese grill is a different process— it’s everything you’re not taught [in culinary school],” Schulson explains. “It’s all about low and slow, turning 100 times.”
While the starters mirror traditional Japanese cuisine, the hot dishes are where the chef’s imagination shines. One surprise hit: a duck scrapple bao bun with an uncharacteristically flavorful coating (like a fluffy “everything” bagel) that marries Asian flavors with American gusto. A large wine and sake list accompanies creative cocktails such as the Monkitail, a bourbon, rye, and vermouth combo topped with a cinnamon and clove smoke, concocted at the table.
The experience at Monkitail is a departure from that of the region’s typical beach-inspired restaurant. “I’m all about the ability to transport,” Schulson says, “bringing somebody into Monkitail and having an experience that could be in New York, Singapore, or London.”
In addition to the 200-seat restaurant, Monkitail houses Nokku, a discreet cocktail lounge with private karaoke rooms. “These days, dinner out has become the entertainment all by itself,” Schulson says, “so we’ve created a place for people to go after dinner.” Karaoke or not, a meal at this memorable eatery will undoubtedly have you singing about your supper. 3555 S. Ocean Dr., Hollywood, 954-602-8755; monkitail.com
“THE JAPANESE GRILL IS A DIFFERENT PROCESS—IT’S EVERYTHING YOU’RE NOT TAUGHT [IN CULINARY SCHOOL].” —MICHAEL SCHULSON
A mouthwatering assortment of robatayaki dishes and the duck scrapple bao buns from Michael Schulson’s Monkitail.
Hanging glass lanterns decorate the dining room at Monkitail, creating an intimate and sultry feeling.
Not only is Michael Schulson a master of Asian cuisine, but he also learned Japanese during his time working at prestigious Tokyo restaurants. ƫƣơơƭ: Duck shabu shabu.
The Monkitail cocktail, finished off with a cloud of clove smoke, is prepared at your table.