A Little Bellyaching

Categories: Order Up

Just back from Guatemala, and jonesing for raw fish and the curative powers of pickled ginger, we dragged our sorry carcasses and knotted, rebellious intestines over to Sushi Jo in West Palm Beach late Sunday for a bit of s&s. We just couldn't resist that Guatemalan street food, could we? Had to have those tortillas, corn meal dug out of some uncovered vat hauled to market from god knows where and then slapped around between the not exactly sterile palms of Mayan girls who'd spent the morning dismembering "free range" chickens. And pineapples, broccoli, apples, mangoes, avocados, loganberries, melons, guavas, oranges, strawberries and the perhaps endangered bananas (find a nice summary of United Fruit's influence on Guatemalan politics here) -- acres of them, baskets spilling produce on every street corner, open air stalls piled to cloud level on the remotest stretches of road. To Hell with the warnings in the guidebooks, who could visit this Garden of Eden and not at least nibble the fruit?

Anyway, owner Jo Clark was bellied up to the bar at Jo's in fine form: sunburnt, smelling of ocean, he'd come off a full day of fishing. Clark is a Florida boy with the kind of expansive, rollicking personality familiar to SoFla natives -- he poured us some sake, handed us a plate of Japanese snapper ("I should be charging three times what I am for this, what with the exchange rate on the dollar") and beamed over the Zagat award he'd just picked up naming Sushi Jo one of the best restaurants in the country. How had a guy, he mused beerily, who got his start as a sub, sub chef at Yama fifteen years ago, then the only sushi game in town, ended up owning a stable of wildly successful restaurants in West Palm, Boynton, and Palm Beach Gardens? Jo Clark's latest venture, Thai Jo, is set to open in West Palm's CityPlace this summer next door to the new Taverna Opa. We're looking forward to an annual yum nua eating contest.

- Gail Shepherd


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