Less than a week after opening, Tanuki is already hit. It’s a trendy Japanese restaurant with Prime One Twelve general manager Andrew Kaplan running the show. The restaurant’s namesake is a mythical Japanese raccoon-cat talisman of good luck, and there is a seven-foot statue of it in the restaurant creating a good vibe. There is also a Tokyo-style LED crawl screen that evokes the metropolis. Although Tanuki feels like a concept designed just for South Beach, the restaurant is actually a very popular Russian chain. There are 53 locations, 17 of which are in Moscow alone.
The menu features reasonably priced pan-Asian dishes in which the appetizers are standouts. The summer roll with king crab was succulent and full of real, juicy crab. Spicy edamame goes above and beyond regular edamame by being grilled and drizzled with an addictive sauce, while the crispy shrimp is good enough to be a meal in itself. As expected, the sushi is exceptional, melt-in-your-mouth good, be it a spicy bigeye tuna maki or a truffled yellowtail roll.
Maybe it’s all about the chef, or maybe the mythical Tanuki really is good luck. Whatever it is, Tanuki turned a down-on-its-luck Alton Road restaurant locale that couldn’t even make California’s famous Umami Burger work and turned it into a bona fide success.