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Photo by W.Oberheiser

 

If designers Versace and Christian LaCroix were to collaborate on a restaurant with an Asian inspiration, the look of Mandrake would be the outcome. Then add in culinary alums of NOBU, Blue Ribbon Sushi and Chotto Matte, and you have the delicious dining part of the equation. Finally, add in the “buzz” quotient of Kiki on the River, from where the owners hail, and you get the picture. Mandrake Miami on 23rd Street in South Beach is a stunner, and the food is delicious too.

 

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Photo by W.Oberheiser

 

You know the restaurant will be a design statement from the moment you walk through the turquoise-colored front doors adorned with antique Chinese door knockers. In the front room find a sushi bar  and another bar with teal colored tiles and Chinese neon phrases. A hallway clad in vintage Chinese wooden gates and Japanese cherry blossom branches overhead leads to the main dining room hidden behind velvet drapes .

 

Christian Lacroix-upholstered chairs  and velvet banquettes complement a striking color palette of magenta, purple and turquoise. Finally, there’s a lovely zen like garden patio with a wall of bamboo and Chinese sculptures.

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Photo by W.Oberheiser

 

But Mandrake isn’t only about stunning decor. It’s also about delicious modern Asian cuisine. The menu which gratefully doesn’t go on forever, is well chosen, divided into hot and cold appetizers; rice, dumplings and noodles; entrees; large dishes for sharing; sides; and a select variety of sushi maki, nigiri and sashimi by the piece.

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Gion cocktail photo by W.Oberheiser

 

By all means start with one of their custom cocktails, preferably the Gion. Other than gin martinis, negronis, and margaritas, I’m not usually a mixed cocktail lover, but did I ever love the Gion. Made of Casa Noble blanco tequila, ginger liquor, fresh red bell pepper, agave, lime and  hell fire bitters, it had all of the flavor sensations in one — piquant, sweet, and citrus.

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Pork belly photo by W.Oberheiser

 

As is the case with many menus these days, the approach is small plates for sharing. We started with the pork belly, a novel presentation — four slow cooked, tender cubes of meat with a vegetable garnish. One usually doesn’t find golden red eye snapper tiradito with yuzu lemon sauce, so we had to try that, and were rewarded with a fresh, delicate, and tasty choice.  From there we opted for duck gyozas, pan seared pot stickers with ponzu kaffir lime leaf. The sauce was light, tasty and delicious. Next time we want to try the Alaskan King Crab and Uni Inaniwa noodles with dashi and eel sauce, or the crispy rice with a choice of seafood.

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Wagyu skewers with crispy Peruvian potatoes photo by W.Oberheiser

 

The daily specials sounded too good to resist, so we shared the two daily specials. First up, tender and perfectly seasoned Wagyu beef skewers paired with to die for crispy, addictive peruvian potatoes with a ponzu aioli. We accompanied them  with a light and elegant butter lettuce salad teamed with yuzu, truffle wasabi aioli, Parmesan, crispy gnocchi and pecans.

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Butter letter salad

 

We couldn’t come here and not try one of the sushi maki dishes, so next up was Maine lobster tempura with a spicy cilantro truffle sauce. The tempura was actually a wrap with daikon, with plump pieces of lobster.  Definitely on our list for next time is the whole fish tempura, a 1.5 pound fish with sweet and sour, ginger scallion sauces, a good deal at $40.  Coming with a group of carnivores? There’s a grilled 32 ounce Tomahawk ribeye with gochujang sauce and shiso chimichurri sauce ($129).

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Maine lobster tempura roll photo by W.Oberheiser

 

Most of the appetizers and dumpling and noodle plates are in the mid to high teens; entrees (just two) are $22-$28; sides, $5-6; sushi maki, $9-$10 except for lobster and the fancy Mandrake with crab and the like; nigiri and sashimi, $5-$8 by the piece. (Note re comments below: these prices are accurate as per the restaurant representative. Open Table menus are inaccurate as of Tuesday afternoon, Feb.26. The restaurant rep said they are being corrected).

A glass of wine starts at $11; bottles start at $48. Cocktails  are in the low teens. Instead of the usual dessert, try a glass of the refined Ichiros Japanese malt & grain whiskey ($25).

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Coming up soon, a lounge, Drake, on the second floor with a DJ on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, with bottle service.

Mandrake Restaurant Miami, 210 23rd Street,  is open for dinner six days a week, Monday – Wednesday from  7 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. For reservations visit www.mandrakemiami.com or call (305) 397-8036. Street parking.

Mandrake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

4 comments

  1. Sounds very good. I went to their website and found the prices on the menu to be a bit higher than you wrote – the whole fish tempura is listed as $70, not $40. A reader of your blog might be disappointed to find this out.

    1. Thank you Annette. I’m going to check this out asap. I took the prices from the menu (went a week ago) and they were checked by the restaurant’s rep. That being said, I’m going to go back and see what the story is.

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