November 15, 2017

Sushi is among the offerings at J-Dao.

Contributed Sushi is among the offerings at J-Dao.

TAVERNIER — On Friday afternoon, staffers at J-Dao, an Asian fusion restaurant tucked away in the Tavernier Towne Shopping Center, were hustling with last minute details in time for their soft opening. Chairs were arranged, utensils were polished and the tables set.

The menu boasts Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean dishes. Dishes range from pho noodle soup to teppanyaki which is iron-grilled chicken, beef or salmon with fried rice and veggies.

Chef Thanik Suksamran was boiling potatoes to prep massaman curry. Suksamran explained the difference between his red and massaman curry. Red curry is made mainly of dried red chili peppers, ginger with lemongrass and lime. He said it’s a staple in his homeland of Bangkok. Massaman curry is similar but influenced by Indian cuisine. It’s more mild and has peanuts added to other spices.

He said what makes their fare fusion is combining new preparation methods with more readily available ingredients, all while maintaining authentic cultural flavors.

He said his boss, the owner, J Dao is funny. Sushi chef Kittipong Jitkawinnoy, known as T, said she’s really nice. 

“J is like our sister, she’s great to work with,” said T.

“The word ‘jay’ in Thai is slang for sister and Dao, which is my last name, means ‘star,’” Dao said.

She owns two other restaurants in Miami-Dade County: Sushi Lico and Bangkok Bangkok. 

“It took us longer than expected to open here, but finally,” she said last Friday at lunchtime. “We thought we’d be able to open months ago.”

Dao’s been renting a large home for her small staff close by.  “It’s expensive to rent here, but we love it here,” she said.

She said everything on the menu is made fresh.

“I like to eat good food, I only serve good food. We’d love customers to come and try it here, they’ll love it,” she said. “We have traditional papaya salad, fresh fish and we put a Thai spin on all the recipes.”

Dao said she’s going to make sure things run smoothly and quipped that she can cook anything on the menu, “just as fast as these guys,” she said. That includes sushi rolls.

“I’ll mop the floor too,” she laughed. “I’m very fortunate to own my own business.”

“She is a hard worker,” T said.

He has been rolling sushi for 10 years now. He’s previously crafted sushi at the Miami Heat VIP lounge and has been in the same room as all the Heat players.

His favorite roll is the KZ roll, which is seared scallop, krab salad, avocado, spicy mayo and truffle oil, topped with seared himachi, or yellowtail, and jalapeno.

Dao said her husband, Chef Vic, is well-known for his sushi and loyal customers sometimes drive far to visit her restaurants.

She’s planning a grand opening at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4. She’s working on the details now, but said it’s going to be a party. 

J-Dao is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 1 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday. It’s located at 91260 Overseas Highway in Tavernier Towne Shopping Center. For more information, find them on Facebook under J-Dao or call 305-853-0664.