Inside the gorgeous Diplomat Beach Resort lies a gem, and although it’s no secret, it is definitely worth a visit. Dubbed “The Best Hotel Restaurant of 2017” by USA Today’s readers, Chef Michael Schulson’s Monkitail serves up fresh Japanese fare with a modern twist. Glass lanterns that hang from the ceiling provide intimate lighting, and dark woods and candles on every table craft the mood—It was clear upon entry that this restaurant doesn’t monkey around!

In traditional izakaya style, most of the menu consists of scrumptious shareable plates and sushi, which is ideal, because you get to try multiple things without tiring your taste buds of the same flavors. To start off, my guest and I were brought the Blue Crab California Roll, and the Yellowtail Toru Sashimi. Both starters came out simultaneously, and suitably, complemented each other well. The cucumber and tightly packed crab in the roll were just as refreshing as the rich, buttery, sashimi was, and it was a light beginning that had me game for more.

As the larger plates began to emerge from the kitchen, I was excited to smell some slow-grilled goodies coming my way. By following the Japanese robatayaki method, everything from quail to swordfish to lamb gets the grilled treatment, where they’re pierced with wooden skewers and then turned 13 times on low heat. Unlike the American style, the objective isn’t necessarily to get the meat charred, but to instead create a smoky flavor. Both of my dishes definitely succeeded, as I relished in the smokiness of the octopus, which also had a mildly spicy glaze over it. The salmon scallion didn’t fail to impress either, with the meat being so tender that it would fall off of the stick without much force. Scallions and a delightful sweet coating on top of the fish finalized my love of the dish!

Near the end of my dine, I could barely fit anymore food; the Chef’s Tasting Menu had exceeded my expectations and…my stomach capacity. Thankfully, dessert was very light, with two mini ice cream cones placed before me. The flavors, which change periodically, were “Coco Puffs” and “Fruit Loops.” The Coco Puffs cone tasted more like a Cake Batter flavored ice cream with a chocolate twist, but the Fruit Loops was spot on—it tasted exactly like the famous breakfast cereal! Thoroughly satisfied and very full, I left Monkitail with nothing but appreciation. If you’re looking for an exceptional Japanese culinary experience, then this is the restaurant for you!

3555 South Ocean Drive, Hollywood

By Aaliyah Pasols