Yuga Sushi and Sake House is the newest addition to Destin Commons. Yet there’s nothing common about this art – er, cuisine.

DESTIN – The plating was a work of art.


Six sushi rolls stood on their own – unique colorful, saucy and textured – yet also harmonious in the grandness of it all.


"Heart, passion and love" – that’s what Sayam Junlakan, the Master Sushi chef Yuga Sushi and Sake House, puts into his dishes, which only add credence to the well-known adage that you eat with your eyes first.


My eyes had never seen such an elegantly plated sushi platter, which was almost too pretty to eat. The key word is ALMOST.


Yuga Sushi and Sake House is the newest addition to Destin Commons. Yet there’s nothing common about this art – er, cuisine.


THE FOOD


It’s no wonder why Chef Sayam’s sushi standards are so high.


After all, he worked alongside legendary "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto at New York City’s Nobu and at Tsukiji Restaurant in Japan. With that context, Yoga displays on its menu that it ditches imitation crab meat in place of snow crab and blue crab.


This attention to detail may seem small on the surface, yet it makes all the difference.


As for those beautiful sushi rolls, all the staple combinations are there – yet with a spin.


With my party, which opted for the sharing is caring approach, the consensus favorite was the jasmine roll.


The "big roll" features crab salad, spicy blue fin tuna, salmon and white fish topped with cream cheese, spicy aioli, eel sauce and garlic ginger sauce ginger and then flash fried.


It sounds like the kitchen sink, y’all, and it is. Yet the flavors meld well as the crispy tempura outside texture marries well with the melt-in-your-mouth seafood, and the creaminess of the crab salad and cream cheese is countered by the sweet and spice of the sauces.


It’s a symphony of sushi flavors – epic both in its portion and nuanced textures – easily enough a meal in itself.


For variety, our table also ordered the spicy tuna roll, the bacon roll, the Sam on the Beach (salmon), the rainbow roll (tuna, salmon shrimp, yellowtail, white fish and avocado) and the dragon roll (eel).


The bacon roll – surprise, surprise! – was a hit with its fattiness and creaminess overload with the avocado, cream cheese and crab salad inclusion. As was the rainbow roll for its variety and brightness, while the dragon roll and spicy tuna rolls offered a welcomed freshness that almost cleansed the palate from the heaviness of the others.


Paired with a heaping serving of wasabi and pickled ginger, the meal was decadence in the best way.


While we opted to order from the House Sushi Rolls, there are cooked options labeled "from our kitchen" that include spring rolls (Haru Maki), volcano shrimp, tiger shrimp, panko chicken seared scallops, steak bites and fried rice.


Under entrees, you’ll find the Kobe beef tenderloin, blue fin saku tuna, yuga salmon and mango lobster, each featuring a unique side and puree/glaze/sauce.


On the appetizer menu are edamame, dumplings, shrimp tempura, tartar, carpaccio and tataki offer, while other starters include miso soup and the salad options of seaweed, cucumber, house and Ika Sunsai.


There are also three different Japanese rice bowls featuring a variety of seafood, four vegetable rolls offering vegan options and ample Nigiri and Sashimi options. And, not to be left out, is the avocado bomb, avocado stuffed with spicy kimchee blue fin tuna, scallions, rice puff on a Japanese rice cake and accented by sweet Kabayaski sauce, mango puree and a Kimchee sauce drizzle.


THE SERVICE


Not packed on the weekday night we visited, the hostess seated us immediately and the waiter was attentive – but not overbearing – all evening.


THE ATMOSPHERE


Inside, it’s an intimate atmosphere with about 15 tables, dim lighting and a sushi bar featuring vivid blues and tan-stained woods.


But, embracing the lit-up Destin Commons and its expansive people-watching views, we opted to sit outside on a lovely fall night. Despite its plating and high-end menu, it’s really a laid-back scene that would accommodate a casual shopper or a dressed-up date night.


A FINAL TASTE


Destin Commons was missing a sushi spot. Yuga Sushi and Sake more than fills the void.


It’s fresh seafood done right, the attention to its ingredients topped only by its plating. I look forward to returning to try another house sushi roll or the avocado bomb.