By Eleanor Hoh
No Name Chinese was started by frustrated Chinese food lovers, Heath Porter and Craig DeWald, partners from Coral Gables’ Uvaggio Bar & Restaurant fame. Together with Colombian Executive Chef, Pablo Zitzmann and pastry chef and wife, Natalia Atuesta, they’ve made us proud. Anyone who has lived where there’s good Chinese food laments about Miami’s lack of it and I couldn’t agree more. No Name Chinese set out to turn that around and succeeded with flying colors.
About the decor…
As soon as you enter, you know there’s serious but unpretentious food coming your way. There’s a huge counter where you can watch the chefs prep and fire up those woks. Decor is modern and zen with wood floors and navy comfy chairs, yellow leather banquettes and wood chairs, brick walls and few distractions.
About the wines…
Another thing you’ll appreciate at No Name? Heath’s humor! The beverage menu has his stamp all over it like, “This juice will take the anger out of our signature dumpling!” Ever wonder which wines go well with Chinese food? Watch the video, you’ll immediately sense Heath’s excitement and lots of nodding when he talks about his fondness for wine pairings and Asian food. A glass of wine is a 6 oz. pour, with prices ranging from $10 to $21.
About the food…
There’s a reason for the lack of distractions. They want you to focus on Pablo’s enticing dishes like his signature dumplings. We loved hearing how he apprenticed under Mr. Lee, a dumpling master in Hawaii. If you’ve had good dumplings in Asia, you’ll recognize how much work goes into them. It’s hard to choose a favorite. I love both the angry dumpling (only available for dinner) and Mr. Lee’s Jiaozi, both totally different in flavors, textures and presentation.
Pablo is quick to add even though it’s Chinese cuisine, there’s Japanese, French, Vietnamese and even Mexican influenced food with Chinese techniques. Dishes are prepared using mostly locally sourced ingredients and house made soy sauce, chili sauce and chili oil. You’ll appreciate the sparse menu, again an indication they understand quality is better than quantity. Many of the dishes are popular Chinese dishes but Pablo has put a modern twist to them so their flavors pop. Most importantly, the menu is ingredient driven so it’s seasonal, which I’m totally behind.
Lunch Menu is divided into 5 sections. You won’t feel lost with how to order, all the staff are very knowledgeable and happy to guide you through the menu and make suggestions for the amount of dishes as well as wine pairings.
Appetizers are called “Fresh and Light,” with price ranges from $8 to $14. We had smashed cucumber and crudo yusheng, both outstanding.
Bowls are for carb lovers and come with rice or buckwheat noodles at $14. Sung is lighter, with either moo-shu pancakes or lettuce wraps,$12. Both offer choices of shrimp, chicken, beef or wild mushrooms and a variety of vegetables and sauce combinations. The sauce on our shrimp bowl was a palate pleaser, a delightful mix of seasonings.
Dim sum: you cannot visit No Name without trying dumplings! There are only 3 choices of dumplings for lunch, all at $14. They are quite substantial and exquisitely executed.
The House Specialties section consisted of Chao Fan (Fried Rice) at $17, and you can add a choice of protein for an extra $8. The only other dish in this section is a sizzling whole fish at market price.
Sum sum section is a great idea for busy business professionals who need to get in and out. It comes with a salad or soup, dumplings of your choice and veggie fried rice.
The dinner menu is more extensive with a lot more choices in all sections. I absolutely love the title of this section, “To Nibble and To Share,” because it’s a perfect description. Pablo’s signature dish and sellout in this section is the crispy turnip cake.
“Fresh, Light and Raw,” is similar to lunch. Definitely try The Angry Dumpling from little sum sum.There’s even a wine that’s specifically picked to go with this. Everyone’s favorite is the salt & pepper shrimp under old school classics, and house specialties like duck “a la hoisin” is a cross between peking duck and moo shu pork.
Remember to leave room for dessert! Pablo’s wife is the pastry chef, Natalia, and she has the walnut tart down to a science. The texture of the tart is so addictive, nice and crunchy together with the chopped walnuts and topped with kumquats for a hint of sourness.
I’m so thrilled with No Name Chinese and what they are doing there and can’t wait to bring my Wok Star Supper Club to visit.
No Name Chinese, 7400 SW 57th Court, T. 786-577-0734.
It’s open for dinner, brunch and lunch on select days. Check the days before you go.
About Eleanor Hoh:
Eleanor Hoh aka Wok Star is a cooking teacher, entrepreneur and blogger who loves to share easy, healthy and fun cooking techniques without recipes or measuring. Her audience appreciates her restaurant recommendations based on honest opinions and pursuit of good non-traditional Chinese food prepared by non-Asian chefs, reach her at http://eleanorhoh.com (note from Karen: Mr. W and I took her Wok Star cooking class and not only did we thoroughly enjoy it, but we have wok night as a weekly delicious and healthy ritual).