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Bonsai Pensacola Beach

AT THE HILTON PENSACOLA BEACH

Article by Liz Attaway

Photography by Liz + John Attaway

Luxurious delicacies from the sea are on beautiful display at Bonsai Pensacola Beach! Located in the Hilton Pensacola Beach, we were treated to their amazing Omakase experience with wine and sake pairings. This waiter guided 6-course experience was top notch and you could go at your own pace. The best part is the food is just as delicious as it is looks! Get ready for the Omakase Experience.

Kicking off our Omakase Experience was the A5 Wagyu Striploin paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the best piece of meat I (Liz) have ever had with an almost buttery like feel on the tongue that literally melts in your mouth. It is the right amount of meat and fat then the addition of the salt from the Himalayan salt block underneath adds an element of saltiness that elevates the flavor. Would NOT change one thing about this bite. 

Moving on to course 2, the Nama paired with Asahi Shuzo Kubota Sparkling Dew. This was my (Liz’s) personal favorite sake with the perfect body and finish for a fish pairing. Plus, course 3 was the Nigiri and Sashimi paired with, Kikusui Shuzo Perfect Snow, an unfiltered sake. All being the same mix of fish, one being without rice and the other with, the fish they provided was all very VERY fresh and tender. We got a sampling including Steelhead trout, tuna, salmon, and Hamachi to name a few. Of the fish a few highlights included the salmon that was actually creamy, while the Hamachi is lighter and paired with the caviar added the right amount of salt. The favorite was the Steelhouse trout, it literally melted in your mouth and had an amazing flavor. Once you pair all of them with a little bit of real wasabi root and rice, you’ve got an amazing bite. 

Course 4 was the Pork Ramen perfectly paired with Chardonnay. This one didn’t disappoint with a flavorful pork broth and tender pork belly. The noodles had the right tenderness, while the tang of the green onion and savory of the egg comes in at the end for a great bite. 

One of the best courses was course 5 with the Hickory Smoked Tuna and Florida Citrus roll paired with Kikusui Shuzo Chrysanthemum Water. This was the best experience of the entire dinner as they smoke the salmon and bring it in a dome of hickory smoke. Once at the table, they open the dome and the smoke billows out, while leaving a slight smokiness on the tuna itself. As for taste of the roll, the tuna is light and pairs well with the creamy avocado and savory rice, then on the back you get the smoked flavor. Divine. The Florida Citrus roll is also very light but has tons of fresh fish flavors mixed with lemon. Lemon is really the best pairing with fish!

To end the night, course 6 was the Anmitzu dessert with Optimia Port Wine. The Anmitzu is a hodgepodge of ingredients like ice cream, passion fruit, matcha, gelatin, and other fruits. Each element brings a different flavor and all together is an amazing bite. Paired with the port wine, that is brown sugar-forward yet boozy, you’re in for a treat.

Beyond the meal, some of the authentic touches make this meal one-of-a-kind. One of these is the wasabi. They literally grind the wasabi root at your table and it’s so mild and doesn’t give you that nose feeling that typical wasabi would give you. Did you know that what you get at most restaurants is horseradish? Another of these was the soy sauce in both whiskey barrel aged and mushroom. They were less salty and more earthy than a typical soy sauce. Preferred the whiskey barrel aged as it was even more savory and a little bit boozy on the end. I’d take that home with me and use it on everything. The final touch was the white glove, server-guided experience that gave the whole night an intimate feeling.  

If you’re on the beach in Pensacola, we’d highly recommend getting to Bonsai for the Omakase Experience. Which course speaks to you?

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