Cafe Sensei Fort Lauderdale Exterior
Welcomed from the outside by umbrellaed tables and a friendly hostess, you're best served to have reservations if you want to eat at the popular Café Sensei
for dinner. When we were last in Fort Lauderdale for a conference this summer, my daughter found Café Sensei and we made the point of driving in and finding parking so we could enjoy this restaurant with a surprise treat at the end of the meal (spoiler alert!). So it's no surprise that it should be top of mind for the Convention and Visitors Bureau to recommend the same wonderful restaurant. We didn't find free parking but paid parking within a few blocks of the restaurant. On this visit, we took an Ube,r which was incredibly convenient.
What you won't know, unless you ask, is that the river flowing by can be part of your experience. Ask about the gondola dining options.
Omakase Free-Style Sushi Bar
With indoor and outdoor seating, you'll have the chance to enjoy the Florida weather depending on your tolerabilities. It remained seasonably warm both times I visited, so we elected indoor dining with air conditioning. If you're a true fan of Sushi, you'll want to check out the Omakase "free-style" sushi bar or comfort food Pan-Asian style like Pad Thai, Lo Mein, Lobster Guacamole, Bulgogi, Bao Buns, and Kimchi Fried Rice.
Blue Crab Rangoon May Stave the Hunger Until Your Entree Arrives
This day, our server, Danni, upon hearing the various allergies of the group, recommended I follow the menu's gluten-free notations with a strong recommendation for Jumbo Shrimp Curry Curl. It is elegant in its simplicity with jumbo shrimp, a red curry sauce, and assorted vegetables. I still haven't figured out exactly what they do to make the curry sauce have the Latin flavor, but it is distinct from other curries.
General Tso's Chicken Bites
For my non-dairy tolerant colleague, she recommended anything besides the Korean BBQ with fried rice. She chose General Tso's chicken bites, which are very tasty, tangy, crispy chicken chunks with scallions, garlic, Casa spicy sauce, and Chili Peppers. It's in a deep dish where you may not even be certain the rice is there… Until you dig down into this ginormous bowl.
Our Convention visitors and Bureau representative ordered the ordered the charred octopus. The tentacle arrived fairly intact, grilled, accompanied by a papaya mango salad and a fresh basil vinaigrette. I'm so glad to visit with people that have a more adventurous palate than me. She shared that it was prepared "perfectly," and enjoyed the diverse layering of flavors in the dish.
She also ordered the bao buns. I can't see this item on a menu without thinking of the Pixar Bao Short
, (this one, I think, is abbreviated from the original) and highly recommend you view it (warning: it may make you cry). The choice of pork belly, steak, chicken, coconut shrimp, and crispy tofu is available as filling for the two Bao buns.
Favorite daughter on our earlier visit chose the sesame chicken, crispy chicken with blood orange caramel sauce, green beans, baby bok choy, sesame seeds, and a large base of Jasmine rice and one of the largest bowls you've seen. Think of your large mixing bowls that you use to combine the ingredients for a cake, and you'll know what I mean. There's plenty to take home if your table mates don't join you. We were staying at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa
at the time and had a full kitchen in the Vice-Presidential Suite to take home and enjoy leftovers later.
I highly recommend the Midnight Mousse
For my dessert first attitude, I checked the dessert menu and found the flourless chocolate cake, the midnight mousse cake. It's a deep dark chocolate with powdered sugar to balance and "decadent" hardly describes it. The accompanying blueberries and strawberries
offer a fresh departure from this delightfully heavy dessert.
Edamame sans truffle oil
My edamame arrived with just a light layer of salt, as requested (no truffle oil), and was as delicious as I've come to expect at this location. I think I'll have it every visit.
The Pork Dumplings Went Quickly
My other fellow travel writer enjoyed the cashew chicken with all-natural chicken, cashews, soy-based house sauce, veggies, and a side of Jasmine rice as well as the Blue Crab Rangoon and pork dumplings from the dim sum menu to share. It's not as tangy as the sesame chicken or General Tso bites and a lighter portion, perfect for someone who likes to try an appetizer or two.
The only time the table was quiet was when the cashew and sesame chicken were delivered with the octopus. It took a few moments for everyone to try their first bites, savor them, have another, and then resume the conversation.
Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
One of the writers had a last-minute change of heart and broke down and ordered the chocolate lava cake. It's a production as you break through the crust and have the luscious chocolate flow.
With all this food, we chatted for more than an hour, reviewing our Fort Lauderdale stay, and solving the problems of the world, one bite at a time.
Oh, I almost forgot. The surprise is the cotton candy at the end of the meal. With a group of five, they gave us a standard carnival-size cotton candy and presented it atop a glass. What a treat!
Cafe Sensei Interior Sign