Sky Thai Sushi (Melanie Bell)
“It fills a void for what we need in walking steps of our downtown—good quality sushi. Given its location, it’s going to be hard for Sky Thai Sushi not to attract attorneys and other professionals.”
When Fort Lauderdale attorney Jeff Neiman had a craving for sushi, he jumped in his car and drove to Sushi Rock Cafe a mile up Las Olas Boulevard.
Now, Neiman can just walk to Sky Thai Sushi, the first and only sushi restaurant within walking distance of Fort Lauderdale’s power lunch crowd.
“It fills a void for what we need in walking steps of our downtown—good quality sushi,” said Neiman, who just formed a litigation boutique with two other former federal prosecutors, Jeffrey Marcus and Daniel Rashbaum. “Given its location, it’s going to be hard for Sky Thai Sushi not to attract attorneys and other professionals.”
The restaurant opened in November at 350 E. Las Olas Blvd., a prime location for hundreds of hungry lawyers, bankers and business types occupying the nearby high rises. It’s slowly catching on as a power lunch spot, although there are still vacant tables most days.
The decor matches its name, featuring a blue backlit wall with bird cutouts. The long room is lined with tables on each wall, with generous space in between to allow for private conversations and dealmaking.
A small private dining room with a flat-screen television is available for parties of five to 10 people.
If you’re lucky, on a nice sunny day you can snag one of the three outside tables beside a sparkling fountain overlooking Las Olas for some prime people watching.
That’s where I sat while lunching with Linda Leali, a Miami solo attorney and receiver.
It was her first time at Sky Thai Sushi. Battling a cold, she sampled the miso soup and green tea to soothe her sore throat before tucking into a dish of chicken in red curry sauce with bamboo shoots, green peas and bell pepper for $9.
I tried the seared tuna salad for $15—a generous plate of tuna chunks, red onions, scallions, bell pepper, jalapeno, lime juice and sesame seeds over greens. The spicy salad dressing gave the dish a tangy kick.
During lunch, Leali squeezed in a little networking after being introduced to Michael Goldberg, an Akerman partner who is the liquidating trustee for Ponzi scammer Scott Rothstein’s defunct law firm.
“I love the name and the cool breeze. It makes me feel like I am jetting away somewhere,” Leali said. “The restaurant has a relaxed vibe, but you are right in the epicenter of commercial activity. My practice is primarily in Miami but I live in Fort Lauderdale so I always jump for an opportunity to spend time engaging with others in the Fort Lauderdale legal community.”
The menu offers Thai dishes like penang curry and pad thai and an array of sushi rolls and tempura. A host of daily lunch specials comes with an appetizer of two crispy fried won tons, all for less than $10.
The restaurant is owned by the same team behind two other successful Asian eateries, Tee Jay Sushi in Wilton Manors and Thai House in North Miami Beach.
Their downtown locale has been discovered by Greenberg Traurig lawyers including Matt Miller, the administrative shareholder in Fort Lauderdale, who frequents the restaurant once a week. He recently lunched there with shareholder Bruce March and three other lawyers.
“The food is consistently good, and the service is phenomenal,” Miller said. “I like the wide open area. You don’t have people sitting on top of teach other, so you can have conversations and not be heard by the other table.”
He takes turns ordering the sushi and the Thai dishes, depending on his mood.
Sky Thai Sushi is one of Miller’s go-to lunch spots when he’s eating with colleagues. When entertaining—and impressing—clients, he opts for the Lobster Bar Sea Grille, an upscale seafood restaurant farther east on Las Olas.
Another fan of Sky Thai is Gustavo Carvajal, a financial adviser and vice president at Merrill Lynch. He likes the eatery so much you can find him lunching there at least three times a week—sometimes with clients, sometimes with colleagues.
His favorite dishes are the pad thai for $9 and the Big Bowl of Wonton Noodle Soup, chock full of chicken wonton, rice noodles, bean sprouts and chicken—a hearty lunch for $8.
Carvajal, Miller and other members of Fort Lauderdale’s power elite are clearly rejoicing at their varied options for lunching these days. It’s a stark contrast to years past when eateries came and went on Las Olas with regularity.
“I’ve been practicing here since 1996, and I can tell you there are absolutely more options than in the past,” Miller said. “And the restaurants are sticking around longer than in the past.”
“The reality is in downtown Fort Lauderdale these days, there are so many places where you can have a quick professional lunch,” he said.