Waterfront dining in Miami , especially with good food, isn’t easy to find. So when I learned of a new popup featuring Izikaya cuisine at The Standard , Miami Beach off I went. It was Friday night at 7:30 and it was packed. A very good sign that lived up to its promise.
To get to the popup which is in the hotel’s Lido Bayside Grill restaurant, you walk down a long treelined path with guest rooms on one side and a central garden with chair swings on the other. At the end of the path a wide expanse opens to a large swimming pool and chairs to one side and the casual restaurant to the other. Both front the Bay with expansive views of the Venetian islands and Miami Beach. The umbrella topped Lido is all about casual dining, the kind of casual decor you’d find at the beach in one of the Greek islands. Umbrellas are set up so that they can provide coverage in case of rain, and strings of lights add a touch of a festive air. In other words, it has some style. Unlike many South Beach hotel restaurants, the crowd ranges from millennials to baby boomers which I found refreshing.
Izikaya refers to a type of informal Japanese pub. They are casual places for after-work drinking, compared to Irish pubs, tapas bars and early American saloons and taverns. So the emphasis is on small plates. Executive Chef Daniel Herget joined the Standard after stints at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar and La Goulue and a small Japanese restaurant group in Nashville.
The dinner menu is divided into raw bar, chilled, fried, steamed and grilled, with a separate dessert menu. We started with the sunomono which was large pieces of Alaskan crab with cucumber and kelp that had an unexpected crunch, and slight citrus taste. It was a favorite of both my son and me. Next up was the Wagyu beef tartar, chunkier than the usual variety, and garnished with egg yolk and crisp wontons.
The star of the night was the kurobuta pork chop. With fifty percent fat marbling, the pork chop was both supremely tender and flavorful. It came with grilled onion and stonefruit. A good accompaniment to the richness of the pork is the white rice called Furikake that’s an unusual entry in rice dishes, flavored with Mirin vinegar and garnished with micro herbs.
Next time I’d like to try some of the other dishes one seldom finds at Japanese restaurants here like the Okonomiyaki fries, bonito flake, bulldog sauce, nori and scallions; Tsukemono, pickled vegetables; and the Takoyaki, octopus hush puppies, kewpie mayo and sesame.
Accompanying the meal we had an organic German Riesling and a Barbera from Piedmont, both organic and very good.
For dessert we opted for the chocolate lava cake that was Vegan, gluten free, and very chocolately. Interestingly enough, this is the second time I’ve had a Vegan lava cake and find they have the richest taste of chocolate. Our other dessert choice, a selection of Asian-inspired mochi – honey and walnuts, black sesame, Thai tea and Matcha green tea were an ideal coda to the meal, and looked like works of art.
Dishes are best shared, so you can try several. Prices for what could pass as starters, salads and desserts are priced in the teens, and entrees such as the pork chop, duck breast and whole snapper are in the 30’s and low 40’s. Wagyu beef selections are of course more. Most cocktails are $14 and wine starts at $13 a glass, bottles at $49.
Izikaya Residency at the Lido Bayside Grill. 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach; 786-245-0880. Valet parking is $25.
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