Fire, wa­ter, din­ner and a show

Play­ful chefs, sushi river make for a fun night

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - DINING - By Michael Mayo

Mi­ra­mar is a land­locked rec­tan­gu­lar grid that stretches to the west­ern edges of Broward County, an ex­panse gen­tly de­rided by ra­dio per­son­al­ity DJ Laz as “Mi­ra­far.”

Who knew Mira-far had water­front din­ing? Granted, the wa­ter is an in­door rivulet about a foot wide and 4 inches deep and car­ries wooden minia­ture boats bear­ing plates of sushi and ap­pe­tiz­ers. At Blue Gin­ger Seafood Steak­house, it is known as the sushi river. It winds leisurely around the cen­ter bar in the main din­ing room, with din­ers and im­bibers pick­ing and nib­bling as servers keep a run­ning tally of con­sump­tion.

I didn’t come to Blue Gin­ger Sushi Steak­house to eat sushi from an aquatic con­veyor belt. I came for din­ner and a free show. For that, din­ers must sit at the com­mu­nity teppanyaki ta­bles — large, flat, rec­tan­gu­lar metal grills where chefs cook with a the­atri­cal flour­ish for those who or­der what are here called hi­bachi din­ners.

If you have ever been to Beni­hana, you know the drill.

At Blue Gin­ger Seafood Steak­house, the chefs are play­ful and cheery. They start by mak­ing a sym­phonic clat­ter of spat­u­las and knives, bang­ing and jug­gling. At one point, ours pulled a squeeze bot­tle of sake from his cart and asked if any­one wanted a squirt. A friend’s son, cel­e­brat­ing his 23rd birth­day, raised his hand and opened his mouth. From a dis­tance of 3 feet, the chef aimed per­fectly, squeezed and counted. The young man made it to 10. “I’ve done this be­fore,” he said af­ter gulp­ing, the lone Blue Gin­ger vet­eran in our group.

To start the hot-grill pro­ceed­ings, our chef splashed oil and torched it so that flames danced and climbed high in the air. Our chef doused the in­ferno with a plas­tic doll that sprayed wa­ter from its groin. Take that, Jose An­dres and Jean-Ge­orges Von­gerichten.

Blue Gin­ger Seafood Steak­house will not be con­fused with celebrity-chef-driven restau­rants that crowd the trendier land­scapes in Mi­ami Beach or Brick­ell. But it was good fun. The food was ser­vice­able and not ter­ri­ble. Serv- ice was fine. The value was good.

Hi­bachi din­ners in­clude a cup of fla­vor­ful broth and a plain ice­ber­glet­tuce salad blan­keted in gin­ger dress­ing. A steak and chicken com­bi­na­tion cost $26, steak and shrimp ran $28, and my filet mignon and scal­lop combo cost $32. The meats and seafood were cooked to or­der and placed atop a gen­er­ous mound of grilled rice mixed with scram­bled egg and veg­eta­bles. Chefs ask if you want side dishes filled with creamy “yum-yum” sauce, a re­moulade­like con­coc­tion, or dark, thin gin­ger-gar­lic sauce. Both were tasty.

There is a Beni­hana in Mi­ra­mar, and ap­par­ently it does so well that the own­ers of Blue Gin­ger sushi res­tau­rant in South­west Ranches de­cided to open Blue Gin­ger Seafood Steak­house in April 2016. It is lo­cated in a Publix shop­ping cen­ter on Mi­ra­mar Park­way, about a mile east of In­ter­state 75. The res­tau­rant is easy to find, crowned with a royal blue tile dome over the por­tico. My lo­cal guides told me it once housed a Mex­i­can res­tau­rant, and an Italian res­tau­rant be­fore that.

Blue Gin­ger Seafood Steak­house is about as ex­cit­ing as din­ing gets in Mi­ra­mar. If I lived nearby, I might be an oc­ca­sional guest, but it’s hard to say the res­tau­rant is worth a drive.

Mi­ra­mar is one of the fastest­grow­ing cities in the United States, and it is now the fourth largest in Broward County. In 1990, Mi­ra­mar had 40,633 res­i­dents. Its 2016 es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion was nearly 140,000, be­hind only Fort Laud­erdale (178,000), Pem­broke Pines (158,000) and Hol­ly­wood (152,000). The city will open a new am­phithe­ater next week, which city of­fi­cials hope will spur cul­ture and tourism. But Mi­ra­mar’s res­tau­rant scene has lagged.

In the older east­ern end be­tween State Road 7 and Univer­sity Drive, smaller no-frills Caribbean and Latin Amer­i­can eater­ies and

PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL MAYO/STAFF

The teppanyaki chefs at Blue Gin­ger Seafood Steak­house first grill a mound of rice, eggs and as­sorted veg­eta­bles be­fore cook­ing meats and seafood. level

Blue Gin­ger Seafood Steak­house in Mi­ra­mar opened in spring 2016 and fea­tures teppanyaki grilling at com­mu­nity ta­bles.

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