Sakura Roll from Sakura736 photo by William Oberheiser

 

Here are my picks for best dishes in Miami for 2017. As you’ll read, most of the dishes are light bites, starters or comfort food, an interesting commentary on where most of the excitement is today in menus. Seafood is heavily represented not because I prefer it to meat — in fact, a thick beefy Prime steak is one of my celebration meals — but because the seafood dishes were the most exciting.  They cross all borders — from European and Asian to Middle Eastern. The bottom line, is they’re all standouts. Most of the restaurants featured have been reviewed in the blog if you want more information. Just click on the link.

 

Sakura Roll, beautiful to look at and to taste. It’s inspired by Japanese cherry blossoms and is unlike any other sushi roll you’ve had. The round rolls surrounded by pink soy paper are filled with white and green asparagus, lobster tempura, avocado, cucumber and spring mix. Stems and blossoms of pink spicy mayo garnish the plate along with a piece of lobster tail that embraces an exquisite piece of lobster tempura.   Sakura736, which just opened a week ago. (Stay tuned for a review you won’t want to miss).

 

Lettuce and tomato miami

Truffle Tuna Bites from Lettuce and Tomato Gourmet Gastrobar

Truffle tuna bites are succulent morsels of  tuna on a thin slice of toasted bread flown in from Spain, rubbed with garlic, on a bed of guacamole with aji Amarillo, aioli and microgreens. A welcome riff on the ubiquitous tuna tartare. Everything at this casual eatery in Aventura is delicious, so choosing a dish was tough. The burger with egg, cheddar cheese, red onion, lettuce and tomato and chimichurri aioli with fries was a close second though. Lettuce and Tomato Gourmet Gastrobar

 

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Pork belly bun from DOA

 

A lot of restaurants now feature pork belly buns, but these and the chifa duck ones are tops. The pork belly is teamed with rocoto hoisin and pickled carrots, and the chifa duck joins duck confit with rocoto hoisin, scallions and cilantro.  In fact, the housemade buns are so good, I’ve been dreaming of having them slathered in French butter for breakfast. DOA

 

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Golden lobster tempura from Baoli

 

Golden lobster tempura, chunks of deftly fried lobster served with a creamy spicy aioli and piquant chili ponzu. The presentation is dramatic – the head of a lobster towering over the meaty chunks garnished with slivers of red pepper. Another great dish here is the tuna tart, an unusual combo of tuna sashimi on crispy tortilla with ponzu aioli and shaved truffle . Though Baoli hails from St.Tropez, it introduced Asian menu items last year. Well done!

 

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Huitlacoche from the former Olla

 

Huitlacoche, known as the Mexican truffle,  considered a delicacy in Mexico. It is laced with ample quantities of wild mushrooms, toasted garlic, chile de arbol, white cheese and epazote – a standout.  Though Olla, from Scott Lundquist of Coyo Taco fame, is now closed, watch for this dish popping up in one of his other restaurants in an expanding empire.

 

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Chef Alfredo Alvarez flaming Kobe beef

 

Kobe beef, the best I’ve ever had. It’s up there in the category of truffles, caviar and foie gras as is its price — $100 an ounce. But the thing is, you only eat a small piece. Chef Alfredo Alvarrez makes the beef in a sausage like portion that’s just the right amount, firing it tableside for extra flavor and the WOW factor.The Deck is now closed but hopefully the dish will resurface in Chef Alvarez’s new restaurant M House by Giacosa in Coral Gables.

 

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Lamb ribs from Byblos, photo courtesy of hedonistshnedonist

 

Small lamb ribs that have been cooked sous vide for 14 hours, crusted with chick pea flour, and then flash fried and tossed with Carob molasses. The ribs almost fell off the bone they were so tender, and given a kick with red chili sauce, so they were at once sweet and salty. In fact, all lamb dishes here are off the charts.  Not your usual Med dishes, and for my taste, they’re all winners at Byblos.

 

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Molokhia soup from Mina’s Mediterraneo

 

Molokhia soup which was said to be the preferred soup of the pharaohs and an aphrodisiac. Made of jute leaf and laced with lots of garlic, it’s also said to have special health properties besides being unlike anything else I”ve ever eaten. It was a featured dish at the rotating underground  Saffron Supper Club. This particular dish was served at Mina’s Mediterraneo.

 

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Dumplings from Tanuki

 

These best dumplings in Miami are super flavorful, fresh, of perfect texture, and attractive presentation. There’s a dumpling sampler, 10 pieces, 5 different dumplings for $35 that comes with three different sauces.  My favorites are the peking duck, tom yum shrimp moneybags, chicken truffle sui mai, and mushroom and potato. Tanuki

 

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Falafel from Amsterdam Falafel Shop

 

Falafel here fit the bill on both scores. You can have it in a bowl that you fill up with toppings, or in a sandwich on a pita bread.There are more than two dozen toppings and sauces, allowing over four million combinations, spicy and mild. The choices are varied with lots of spicy sauces and toppings alongside mild ones. Options include cucumber with red onion, cucumber with tomatoes, red cabbage, crunchy onions, Baba Ganoush (cooked eggplant salad), chickpea salad, hummus, fried eggplant, garlic and parsley, and many pickled vegetables including cauliflower, beets and turnips. No lack of sauces and dressings as well, including hot pepper paste, tomato salsa, tahini, tzatziki (yogurt sauce) and garlic cream. Amsterdam Falafel.

 

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Vesuvio pizza from O Munaciello

 

Vesuvio pizza . It’s made with mozzarella from Caserta, Italy; piennolo cherry tomatoes, fresh black truffle and burrata from Bari. Diners can choose to have the pies made with a charcoal infused flour that’s black (and said to be better for the digestion) or traditional white flour. We opted for the black crusty pizza which will now be our go-to standard. It came with a ball of burrata in the center. You slice the burrata and it oozes its goodness over the pizza. Sublime, we would have braved Pompeii on the night of Mt.Vesuvius for this one.O Munaciello

 

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Tomato salad from Le Sireneuse

 

The tomato salad adorned with tomato jelly and tomato confit with tapenade.Here it’s not just the dish but the very glamorous setting and five star European service. Le Sireneuse at the Four Seasons Surfside

 

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Korean fried chicken and donut from Federal Donuts

 

Korean fried chicken with cake donut. The chicken is brined and cured for eight hours, then fried in a tempura like batter. It’s served dry, wet or naked. The best glaze is the chili garlic, and dry seasoning, the za-atar. All I can say is it’s to die for. I bought a half a chicken (you can buy a half for $11 or whole for $21, or wings), thinking I’d have a bite or two and take the rest home. I ate the entire thing at the one seating. The skin was super crispy, some parts even crackling like a chicarron (pork rind). It’s served with a honey glazed donut (good but not great). Federal Donuts

 

 

 

 

 



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