Wednesday, December 31, 2008
"You've never been to Piola?" - Everyone
Well, wise guys, now I have. Twice in a week, in fact. It's great. You get seated immediately by friendly wait staff and the pizzas come out about 3 minutes after you order them. Capricciosa is one of my favorite pizzas, and Piola's is fantastic. The crust is good enough to eat on it's own, so that makes it doubly infuriating if you dine with one of those non-crust eaters. It is sure to be one of my South Beach staples henceforth. Great place to go for a bite before a movie, since the theater is half a block away and it's not a touristy ripoff the way much of South Beach (and especially Lincoln Rd.) has become. I might have dinner there tonight, in fact.
Friday, November 21, 2008
"In Miami" is a big qualifier. You never see Asians here unless they're dating my roommate. I do love Miss Yip's (but it's kind of expensive) and Sum Yum Gai is actually not bad. It's really a takeout place, though. Dim sum is a whole different animal though. Well, the animals they cook are the same [insert Chinese food cat meat joke here], but, you know, it's an expression.
I had lunch with a friend at Tropical Chinese this week and I was disappointed. The main problem is that I have been blessed with many opportunities to travel and have had dim sum in Hong Kong. It's really good over there. Totally worth the 20 hours you have to spend in a plane to get there. Dim sum is also very good in Boston, where I attended college and spent my early working years. If Tropical Chinese is the best around, then there just isn't good dim sum in Miami. Frowny face.
The shu mai were kind of bland and were not warm. Dim sum is supposed to come out piping hot in those bamboo stackable steamer thingies. Is it "thingeys" or "thingies"? Hmmm, maybe the internet will help. The consensus seems to be "thingies" but "thingys" is a close second. Forget "thingeys" altogether. That was a bad call.
The bao (bbq pork in a puffy bun) were just ok, and those are my favorite and was really looking forward to having some. In general, the food was mostly lukewarm and the meat tasted kind of gross. I couldn't try any of the shrimp dim sum (of which there are many) because of this seafood allergy that I have yet to pin down. Reading reviews from a guy who can't eat seafood is probably kind of strange but hey, as Stevie Wonder says, "you gots to work with what you gots to work with".
The service was solid. I enjoyed the Chinesey atmosphere. One of the reviews on Citysearch mentions "crowded" as a pro. I thought that was awesome. I'm realizing I change tense too often and that my English teachers would be disappointed in me. The waitresses who push the carts around also push the customers around. They are selling dim sum, so they try to get you to buy as much as possible. It's smart.
The prices are fair. At the end of lunch, my buddy and I had to throw in $20 each to cover food and tip. I don't really see a reason to go back, but I'm glad I made it there to see what all the fuss was about. I guess that should be "to see about what was all the fuss". I'm remembering that the waiter marked down when my friend ordered another diet coke. That's a pet peeve of mine. They pay about 10 cents for that glass of soda that they're marking up 2000%. They don't need to charge you twice.
I was curious to see what people had written on Citysearch, since we've all heard such good things from others about this place. Most were extremely positive reviews, but three in a row were negative. The first two hit the nail on the head. The third mentions stuff that doesn't apply to my experience, but mentioned that the tea was good, which I'd forgotten, but it's true. The tea really is good. One commenter accused "Philtherealdealbbq" of being a part owner of the restaurants he recommended. People are stupid sometimes. Often.
um.....Forgetaboutit, Tropical is at the best marginal
02/23/2008 Posted by Philtherealdealbbq
For those who have experienced Dim Sum in (real) Chinatowns, ae. San Francisco, Vancouver, New York, Boston,and Montreal, your expectations are obviously lowered due to the fact that the number of ethnic Chinese in the area can`t support a thriving Chinese Food District with streets of world class Chinese Restaurants. That said, and after reading the gushing positive reviews on multiple sites, off we were to Tropical. We had no wait to be seated...just lucky I guess cause a few minutes later quite few people que`d up for a brief wait for a table. Immediate push cart service began (a positive Dim Sum feature) and servers continued weaving their way through the restaurant stopping at every table displaying multiple Dim Sum entrees for purchase. I must say, the selection and friendly servers explained what the appetizers consisted of if it was a item you weren`t sure off. The taste of most of the offerings were at least average and a few were excellent. My issue was that over half of the Dim Sum selections were served at room temperature an not warm/hot whatsoever. This being noon time on Sunday, and with (heated) steam push carts, that should not be the case whatsoever. Mid-week or late afternoon, maybe, but not on a Sunday at 12:00 PM. For those of you that are Dim Sum fanatics, I`m sorry but you`ll have to drive 60 miles north up I95 and head for Palm Beach County. There you will find 3 excellent Chinese Restaurant that really do Dim Sum right! I will list them in no particular order as I found all of them on par with similar offering in Chinatown restaurants. China Dumpling 1899 N. Congress Ave Boynton Beach, FL 33426 561-737-2782 Singing Bamboo 2845 N. Military Trl. West Palm Beach, FL 561-686-9100 Grand Lake 7750 Okeechobee Blvd. West Palm Beach, FL 561-681-1388
Pros: Easy parking, great Dim Sum Selections
Cons: Too many items served room temperature or cool that should have been warm/hot!
06/07/2007 Posted by chuquilina
Having lived in both sanfrancisco and nyc, I have known what great dim sum taste like. My family and I have eaten at Tropical Chinese many times and the first time we went, we were very impressed with the dim sum-- by far ,the best we have had in miami. Over the years however, the quality of the dim sum has declined and we are hesitant to go back there again.
01/09/2007 Posted by aldoug
i heard a lot about this resturant, i have no idea why people get excited for this chinese food in a parking lot in the middle of no where. i've been in many chinese resturants in my life, the most expensive ones and the cheapest ones. first of all this one is not cheap for the portions they serve, second,the food is not even close to be called chinese. what kind of chinese resturant doesnt serve brown rice or sesame chicken? service was horrible, the waiter was very nasty and thats why he didnt get a tip ( an i usually tip at least 20%), i asked for juice and was charged for a cocktail ( so check your bill) and for some reason chicken with mixed vegetables was more onion than vegetables and chicken. i will for sure, save my chinese craving for my trips to new york.
Pros: jasmine tea
Cons: everything else
Monday, November 17, 2008
I had to stop at Costco last week and as I was approaching the intersection of Biscayne and 123rd, I saw Tokyo Bowl for like the 178th time in my life, always wanting to try it out, especially since living in Tokyo for half a year after finishing college. I have been on a kick of doing things about which I have thought "oh, that really interests me; I should really go there/do that". I stopped by Cape Canaveral in September on the way back from Orlando, so even though I didn't see a shuttle launch, I did see the site and the spectacular Cape. I missed Friday's rescheduled launch after planning on seeing it in October. I'm getting way off topic, but remember astronaut ice cream? That's fun.
Upon entering the restaurant, I made a note to self: hostess sitting at table reading newspaper is bad sign. The place was practically empty but it was late in the day to be lunching. It also reminded me of similar places in Tokyo where there is no clientele and you wonder how the place stays in business. It was depressing in a harakiri-inducing way, but at the same time comforting because it transported me back to my fascinating, but sometimes melancholy stay in the Land of the Rising Sun (Japan, silly).
Well, that hostess that had been sitting and reading took my order quickly. I ordered a Coke to drink, some miso soup, a curry rice bowl, and had a question about the gyoza. They were listed in the Noodle Bowl section of the menu. So I asked, "the gyoza come on noodles?". She said "no, appetizer". Well, that makes sense.
The food came quickly. The Coke was huge! The gyoza were soggy and terrible. The worst I have either seen or tasted. I had really been looking forward to those gyoza so that was pretty disappointing.
The miso soup looked kind of gross. Well, it did not surprise and it tasted gross, too! I even felt slightly sick to my stomach after downing the bowl. I was really hungry though, so I was able to wolf it down.
My main course is one of my favorite Japanese staples. Curry rice or "kari raisu" is something you can find all over Japan. They make this delicious thick brown curry with carrots, onions, potatoes and other veggies, served with sticky rice and sometimes crispy pork cutlets. My stomach is growling now just thinking about it. Well, at Tokyo Bowl, they have one with chicken. But it's a bunch of stir fry type pieces with tendons and fat on them over rice with huge chunks of raw onion and alternating hot and cold ingredients. Some of it was just warmed up better than the rest. On top of it, they drizzle about a tablespoon of curry sauce. Wow, that economy sure sucks. Or maybe it's just the restaurant.
I actually felt sorry for the place and its employees, unlike, oh, say, maybe Barton G, a place in which I dearly hope never to set foot for the rest of my life. I really hate Barton G and everything it stands for. If you like it, then you probably thought Twister was a good movie. I'm not saying that you're necessarily a bad person, but you're probably going to spend at the very least some extra time in Purgatory.
At Tokyo Bowl they were nice at least and kept checking on me. I just nodded and said neither something positive nor negative, all the while making little notes on my Blackberry. I even texted my good friend James to tell him I had a good scathing review to write. He wrote that he was concerned that I liked every restaurant at which I ate. He then wrote "LOL OMG : D". He's like a teenage girl with that thing.
Before the bill came, I ran off to the restroom where I found the conditions to be ok, but not welcoming. The soap was in a ketchup bottle. That was kind of sad in a "here comes the Depression" kind of way.
A funny note about Tokyo Bowl is that they play old fashioned music like the owner is stuck in the year he opened the place. Maybe that was around the time they were voted "Best Japanese Restaurant" by City Link in 1998. 1998! Ha ha ha. That's really funny. That was printed on the menus. Again, in a sad way.
Alas, there is a glimmer of hope. The prices are amazing. My huge Coke was $1. The grand total was $11.20 with tax. It still sucks, but at least it's cheap.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
umami \oo-MAH-mee\ noun
: a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (as glutamate and aspartate)
"Vegetarian dishes are usually difficult to meld with big red wines unless the dish includes umami, from ingredients such as intensely flavored mushrooms…." (The San Francisco Chronicle, August 22, 2008)
Did you know?
A Japanese scientist was the first to discover the savory taste of the amino acid glutamic acid, which was found to occur in soup stocks made with seaweed. This fifth basic taste -- alongside sweet, sour, salty, and bitter -- was named "umami," meaning "savoriness" in Japanese. Umami can be experienced in foods such as mushrooms, anchovies, and mature cheeses, as well as in foods enhanced with monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a sodium salt derived from glutamic acid.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
-Some of the best service I've ever had on South Beach
-Delicious kanikama mango roll (which had a small enough portion of seafood that I could eat it, though I've developed some sort of allergy and avoided the rest of the sushi that everyone else at the table mmm-ed about)
-Best red curry I've ever had
-Excellent, extremely crispy gyoza
-Donut thingy for dessert was like totally awesome
-Weather was perfect of course on Nov. 4th when we celebrated our friend Elle's birthday
Friday, October 17, 2008
She does these fantastic carrot cake cupcakes and designed her own wedding cake. Talented young woman who also made Buttery's website (with very cool Tufts colors). Sorry, you're going to have to pay for the stuff though. Unless you're a beautiful woman looking to get married. Then there might be some negotiating room...
Yesterday we sampled the cookies that are pictured on the main page of her website and my father said they were the best he'd ever tasted. This is a man who is hard to please.
Get your Halloween orders in soon! -
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I don't think I had ever eaten Thai food in Miami before a recent meal. My lovely wife Sarah felt like some Pad Thai so we googled "Thai food" in Miami Beach and the reviews that popped up suggested Thai House. I really think that, by now, Blogger, which is owned by Google, should know that "to google" is a verb. The spell checker keeps underlining it.
We almost ordered two Pad Thais (Is that how Pad Thai is pluralized? It might be like RBI or Attorneys General. Maybe Pads Thai.), but instead decided to get one Pad Thai and some red curry with chicken and vegetables, all "para to go". It was delicious and both of us preferred it to the Pad Thai.
Thai House wasn't cheap. For two dishes and tip it was almost $40, just for delivery and no booze, but we got several meals out of it. That was pretty awesome.
I do highly recommend it. We'll have to dine in next time and let you know how it goes.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Spiga means "ear" in Italian. Did anyone know that? I knew the word "orecchio" but not the alternative. I think we do pretty well in English with just "ear". I can't even think of a slang word that would be the equivalent of "peepers" for eyes. Jeepers creepers.
Va bene. My brother, sister-in-law and I accompanied our parents to Spiga for their 39th wedding anniversary. Not bad for them. We had been on my mother's birthday about 8 months ago but I seem to have forgotten to write a review. Un peccato da vero. My Italian is rusty. Mi scusi. I think that's all close enough. If you don't know any Italian then you're probably impressed nonetheless. Sweet.
Here's another instance where I'm regretting the fact that I'm a world famous food critic and my readership vast. Spiga has had a fair number of customers during my two outings to the 1200 block of Collins Ave., but it hasn't been busy busy. I'd kind of like to keep it that way. There's not much going on for a couple of blocks around, so you can pretty easily find parking as there's a large lot next door to the hotel in which the restaurant is located. I don't feel like looking up which hotel that is. Mi dispiace. I listed the address in the title.
Service - excellent. Food - excellent. Ambiance - excellent. Prices - most reasonable. Seriously, what is there not to like about this place? They have great pastas and I highly recommend to anyone the Ravioli di Vitello ai Funghi Shitake. It's hard to translate, but that roughly means "veal ravioli with shitake mushrooms". I'm kidding. That's exactly what it means. There is an option to order them "baked with bechamel". Bechamel, as we all know, is one of the mother sauces in French cuisine. Basta cosi. Order it baked with bechamel, per favore. It taste-a veri veri good-a.
I'd like to describe some other dishes but the thought is making me hungry, so I'll go right to dessert. Remember that dessert is spelled with two esses, since you want more of it. We shared the Torta Rustica al Cioccolato and the Italian Ricotta Cheese Cake (I guess there are non-Italian ricotta cheesecakes out there. Who knew?). Both divine. Sublime. Uh, transcendent. Choose your hyperbolic adjective. Point is they were good.
By the way, great place to take a date, I think. Has to be. Maybe you'll want to nibble on one another's spige...
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
After checking some online reviews before heading there, the only complaint I read was that service wasn't great, but that's to be expected from a place that has recently opened (I learned that from my buddy Brian, who moonlights as a nightclub-owning socialite : ). The service last night at Sazón was perfectly adequate, with waitresses using typical terms of endearment such as "amor" and "mi vida". Aww shucks.
The menus have interesting tidbits about Cuba and Cuban cuisine. The restaurant decor is pretty upscale for a Cuban one, and the prices very reasonable. The bathroom has a garbage can with a sensor on it that opens when you wave your hand in front of it. I've never seen that before. Not really sure how that's better than using the bottom of your shoe to step on a pedal, but I'm not an engineer or anything.
So, we ordered some average salads (Cubans are just not good at making them) with avocado and too much watercress. The chicken was juicy and delicious. The picadillo was as good as my mother's (which is excellent). The lechon asado was inferior to Las Vegas', which happens to be the best I've ever had in my life. Beans good, but again, not as good as those at Las Vegas. Maduros, good. Tostones, good, but once again not as good as those at Las Vegas. They make them like the ones at Versailles. They're large and greasy, which many people prefer, pero no yo.
In the end, the only reason I can see going to Sazón over Las Vegas is that it's nicer inside. Oh, and outside. Slightly better foot traffic and people watching. And there's more parking nearby. Ok, that's 3 reasons, but who's counting? Oh, you are? My bad. Where's your sense of loyalty? Quit busting my chops, yous.
Don't forget that Miami Spice starts on August 1st (though some restaurants have already begun the deal). It's totally awesome. Lunch is $23 and dinner is $36. It's so freaking hot out; there's gotta be something going on to keep us down here.
Friday, June 27, 2008
*not actually exclusive
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
We had a little birthday party at Rancho Argentino on Saturday night. Wow. The steak was fantastic. The skirt (churrasco) was the best I've ever had. I actually ordered red snapper because I'm weird and decided to have fish at an Argentine steakhouse. Seriously, that is weird, now that I really think about it. Anyway, the churrasco was 17 bucks for a huge one, and I think that's a pretty good deal. Some people at the table ordered that and others ordered the filet mignon (lomo). Two of the women ordered picana/cuadril. I don't know what that is and I didn't try it, so I can't really say how it was. They seemed to enjoy it and didn't go to the bathroom to throw up or anything. The service was so-so but I've never had good service when eating in a large group like that. There were 12 of us, I think.
Highlight: when I asked for orange soda to go with my Quilmes beer (Argentina's Budweiser, and I like Bud, so all you Argies take no offense), they actually had it. That's the first time I have been to a place with Quilmes that could fulfill my request. People really drank Quilmes like that when I lived in Buenos Aires, but that was '93-'94, so a lot may have changed since then. Maybe people don't like to put orange soda in their Quilmes, for example. Maybe they don't wear their motorcycle helmets on their elbows or have shootings at River-Boca matches. Maybe they drive in the lanes and pronounces "LL" correctly. Who knows?
Monday, March 24, 2008
I ordered a buffalo chicken pizza that was delicious and was cooked to order in about 10 minutes. That was pretty awesome. Dan got chicken parm and I got to try it and it was very good. I'm sorry, James, to have so little about which to complain. I am much happier when I've spent my money on an enjoyable eating experience, though my reviews are less interesting when that happens.
Of note is the fact that the restaurant is open really late. On a Saturday night we were able to order our food just before midnight. It's not fancy, but this Big Louie's had pretty nice atmosphere. It was really clean. The staff was friendly. The service was quick and polite. These are all impressive to people who live in Miami.
The highlight of the night had to be the weird dude who showed up with an extremely young looking prostitute. I'm thinking now that she looked so young it was probably illegal. Hmmm. He really wanted to eat outside, since he probably wanted to do something romantic, so he left when they told him they wouldn't serve him outside. He came back and ate inside eventually. Probably when he realized that nothing else was open.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I just had dinner there with my parents last night, and I can't believe I haven't written a review yet. Prima Pasta is well-known among Miami Beachers, and for good reason. The service and food are excellent, with an eclectic mix of Latin waiters and waitresses hustling around with smiles and epitomizing professionalism. If you put in your time and become a regular, you can look forward to even better service and a fuss made over you by the family who owns it, the lovely Ceas (pronounced "che-a" as they are the not unusual Italo-Argentines). Gerry (Gerardo) is then likely to force a Sambuca down your throat.
We basically order the same thing every time we eat there. We start with a tricolore salad and follow that with the best chicken parmesan you will ever find. Seriously. It's perfect. The piccata is also excellent.
I guess the one drawback is that Prima Pasta is located on 71st Street, but I work on 71st Street, so it's not so bad for me. It's always easy to park (there's a lot and street parking available all around the neighborhood), but there is the minor detail of the halfway houses around the corner. There's more crime on South Beach than around here actually, but this neighborhood is most certainly less glamorous.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Older brother looks up Bianca's number on Eat It, Miami. "What a great site", he thinks to himself. He calls the number, and when someone answers the phone "Piri Piri Cafe?", like he's asking a question, older brother (not big brother, since my little brother is bigger than I am) demands to know in plain language "No offense, but what happened to Bianca's?". The silence is deafening. From the other end of the phone, a pause, a deep breath....
"We're still here. We just changed our name."
Bianca's Gourmet Shop is now Piri Piri Cafe.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Why is it called Rosa "Mexicano", you ask? I don't know. Maybe it's like the square root of a million, and no one will ever know. Probably a good marketing move, since people are always talking about it.
If you've been to New York, you've likely heard of Rosa Mexicano, known for its upscale Mexican cuisine and great guacamole. It's a favorite in my family and we were all excited to learn that a new location opened here in Miami.
I was a little surprised to find that we couldn't get a reservation until 1015 on Saturday, but I was happy to hear they were doing so well. The restaurant is located in a part of Miami that is trying so hard to be a hub of nightlife. I love the change of scenery, so I hope the Cocowalk-like shopping center in which it sits will thrive along with the surrounding neighborhood. The few lights that were on in all of those brand-new skyscrapers were not as encouraging as the full restaurant.
So, we ordered the famous guacamole that is prepared table-side. It was quite delicious. No surprise there. Most of us ordered some sort of margarita to drink. Sarah's choice was the most exotic and had cinammony sugar on the rim, rather than the traditional salt. I knew, thanks to my father, that the only way to order the aforementioned libation is "straight up". That way your drink doesn't get watery as you sip it. If you're more of a drink "pounder", this might not matter to you, but keep it in mind the next time you have a hankering for a margarita.
We got some food recommendations from our friendly waiter, and everything he suggested was excellent. The pulled duck appetizer, zarape de pato, was wonderful, as were the empanadas de jaiba. Everybody likes empanadas, and these had crab meat in them. Case closed.
Kim chose the enchiladitas de pollo, probably because they sounded cute, but failed to finish reading the description, which included "mole de Xico". The word is pronounced "mow-lay" for all you gringos our there who can't keep your vowels nice and short. Please just don't say it like that around me.
Everyone who tasted the mole enchiladas agreed when I remarked that it smelled a lot like dog food as a forkful approached my expectant mouth. That sounds slightly sexual. Sorry about that. Oh, Sarah thought it smelled like horse feed. So, we all agreed that it smelled/tasted like something other than people food. And it was ordered by accident. Not a good showing for what I had earlier called Rosa Mexicano's "classic dish". Oops.
My main course was enchiladas suizas, which were only slightly better than chicken enchiladas in green sauce would be at any tex-mex restaurant around, like Rancho Grande, which I love by the way. The main course was good, but not great. We found the service trailed off soon after our appetizers arrived. It took way too long for our second drinks to arrive.
Over all, I would say that you go to Rosa Mexicano for a fun night out in a neighborhood that is coming around. It's not the best restaurant and the service is neither good nor particularly bad, which in Miami I think I have to say means it's got good service. It didn't feel like we were ripped off, like you would if you'd just been mugged at Barton G, but we didn't leave with the euphoria that one experiences after an unexpected transcendent meal. I'll go back.
Incidentally, does anyone know if one can get Montezuma's revenge here in the U.S.? No reason in particular. I was just, you know, wondering.
*Many thanks to reader, Alex, who enlightened us to the fact that "rosa" is a color and takes the masculine article "el". I am surprised to learn this since there's another word for pink in Spanish, "rosada".