Bal Harbour is as recognizable for anyone in Miami as Lincoln Road or Calle Ocho. The highly affluent stretch of Collins Avenue is home to some of the most luxurious residences and also to one of the most luxurious malls in the country, Bal Harbour Shops. While more renowned for it’s designer clothing and jewelry boutiques that include Chanel and Harry Winston, as well as its Neiman Marcus and Saks anchors, the mall is also a destination for the truly savvy gourmand with restaurants like Makoto. Named after Chef Makoto Okuwa who mans the kitchen, this Japanese restaurant has been offering shoppers and culinary connoisseurs inventive fare since it opened its doors a few years ago. Chef Okuwa seems to be in a constant state of creation, and his unique interpretations of Japanese dishes inspire diners to look at one of the world’s most elegant cuisines in an entirely new light.
If you would have told an average American fifty years ago that this country would be obsessed with hot and spicy flavors in the twenty first century, they’d probably think you were crazy. It really is quite curious how, for a culture whose cuisine doesn’t traditionally embrace spiciness, we have really adapted our palates to the addictive burn that only chili peppers can provide. Sriracha is now almost as ubiquitous in the American pantry as ketchup, and it seems as if no casual dining menu is complete without a chipotle-spiked something or other. Besides embracing heat, Americans have also begun to embrace a lot of other flavors and textures, not least among them being sushi. I don’t think anyone would have ever imagined that a dish of rice, seaweed, and raw seafood would ever become as popular in this country as sushi has. Needless to say, the flavor profiles of American cuisine are changing at a rapidly exciting rate, and there are fewer places to celebrate our new culinary preferences this evening than at SAIA, which is putting on a special “Social Hour” to celebrate all things hot and spicy.
Lest we forget about art of the culinary kind during Art Basel week, Sushi Samba will be manning a popup version of their Lincoln Road hotspot in the heart of some of the most exciting satellite fairs. Occupying the former Sustain space in the shops of Midtown, SUSHISAMBA’s SAMBAPOP will be only steps away from such fairs as Art Asia, Art Miami, and Context, as well as a short distance from many others. From now until Sunday, December 9th, SAMBAPOP will be serving “Baselers” their unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian flavors that have made the SUSHISAMBA brand a mainstay on South Beach. With the announcement of its new chef, Brian Nasajon, SAMBAPOP will be the perfect opportunity for both local and visiting art aficionados to sample the new chef’s creative offerings, as well as many favorites.
With fall in full swing, expect not only for leaves to change colors and temperatures to be turning but a slew of new restaurants and bars to be popping up all over town. Foodies and cocktail aficionados, this one's for you. Nosh on sushi and sake in Soho, hit Flatiron to sip classic cocktails at one of our favorite drinks-only lounges and a brand new Whisky bar and Tequila and Mezcal mavens can celebrate Mexico's independence at hot, Hell's Kitchen Tequileria, Anejo. Kampai. Cheers. Salud. Here's the line-up:Trump It Up
Today, Friday, September 14th debuts Koi Soho at The Trump Soho New York.
Koi SoHo dishes out an innovative take on the art of food in a luxurious and sensual dining oasis. Japanese foodies can indulge on artfully plated items like Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna, Baked Crab Rolls and Miso-Bronzed Black Cod while sinking into a serene urban oasis style environment. The well-thought out wine list is global, featuring domestic and international selections. A selection of Ports, Cognacs and Armagnac’s are also available. The creative and tasty cocktails including specialty, classic, tropical and sake inspired blends provoke the adventurous side of one’s palette.
The house specialty is the Koi-Tini featuring Cointreau, pomegranate juice, orange juice and sparkling wine. Koi SoHo is located at Trump SoHo at 246 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013.
For additional information please visit www.KoiRestaurant.com.
Flatiron Room takes a Nod from Flatiron Lounge?
At least in the name game it does. The newly opened Whisky bar definitely pulled a doozy by dubbing its hub so similarly after the long time, well-respected all cocktail haven a la Flatiron Lounge. Hopefully FR's 500+ Whisky list is enough to lure in avid cocktail connoisseurs (aka, Julie Reiner groupies; Reiner owns sipping hot spots like Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club and Lani Kai).
At Flatiron Room, dram fans can sip on selections like Macallan 10 and Balvenie 21 year Port Wood while enjoying nightly rotating jazz performances, cozy brown-wood laden decor and a balcony tasting room. Rye ballers can flash and cash their way through bottles worth thousands like The John Walker that goes for a steep $4500. But, If sippin' this brown spirit solely seems daunting, order up one of the pre-made cocktails and nosh on items like oysters and charcuterie. Once you've had enough of Whisky a-go-go, we recommend walking a couple blocks over and ordering a seriously legit, hand-crafted Manhattan, Old Cuban or Siegert's Swizzle from the Flatiron Lounge. See and sip how it's really done.
Flatiron Room is located at 37 W. 26th St. www.flatironroom.com.
Flatiron Lounge is located at 37 W 19th St. (between Avenue Of The Americas & 5th Ave) www.flatironlounge.com.
Celebrate Mexican Independence
On September 16, 1810 the church bells rang in the small town of Dolores, signifying the official start of Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain. This Saturday, September 15th Hell's Kitchen Tequileria, Anejo will be toasting to Mexican Independence Day with a special 4-course dinner including Tequila, Mezcal and cocktail pairings for $65/person. Agave fans will enjoy custom cocktails by Beverage Manager, Joshua Wortman and taste their way through well and lesser known Mexican spirits while learning about the rustic beginnings of traditional mezcal production through modern distillation of both mezcal and tequila.
Añejo Tequileria y Restaurante is located at 668 10th Avenue (at 47th Street) 4 Course Dinner including Tequila, Mezcal and Cocktail Pairing $65 per person Guests are invited to stay at Añejo after the meal for a restaurant-wide celebration. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org 212-920-4771
SAIA, Fort Lauderdale Beach's bastion of chic Asian cuisine paired with perhaps the best cocktails in Broward, kicked off its daily happy hour, dubbed Social Hour, last week with a very affordable selection of sushi, Asian appetizers, and beautifully crafted cocktails. Serious cocktail drinkers with an affinity for all things vintage will gravitate to selections from SAIA's Old's Cool collection, including a unique spin on the Negroni containing Punt e Mes and Aperol in addition to the traditional gin, as well as a silky smooth Sazerac with rye whiskey, cognac, bitters, and an absinthe rinse. Drinks from the Starlet Collection tend to be on the sweeter side, and the libations evoke the personalities and charisma of the heroines for which they are named, like Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. The aptly named Bettie Page surprises with a slight sting in the back of the throat from fresh jalapeño after the flavors of blueberry, cranberry, and lime have subsided.
Sushisamba is known for their delicious fare and innovative menu. This month, the restaurant introduces the launch of a new hand roll, the first-ever quinoa temaki at all locations. Quinoa is a superfood native to Peru and is used in place of white or brown rice, making a healthier and more exciting sushi. Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, fights free radicals, supplies amino acids, and is gluten-free.
The temaki trio gives you the option of Sweet Chili Tuna (scallion, $8), Shishito (cilantro, spicy mayo, red onion, $8) and Yasai (avocado, snow pea shoot, sweet potato tempura, sweet soy, $7). In addition to this exclusive temaki trio, guests may also choose from a selection of traditional maki and sushi combinations to be made at quinoa hand rolls, including spicy tuna, eel and avocado, and more. The new quinoa hand rolls are so tasty that you'll forget you're eating healthy!
Taking over the former space of Blue Sea in the lobby of the iconic Delano hotel in South Beach, Umi Sushi is sure to become a destination for sushi aficionados and style-seekers, alike. At the helm of the new communal-style sushi bar is chef Toshi Motoyama, formerly of Zuma and Makoto, and trained by Chef Akira Back of Yellowtail in Las Vegas. Sushi rolls make use of non-traditional ingredients like black truffle and wagyu beef alongside poached Maine lobster in Chef Motoyama’s Delano roll. The FDR roll offers a combination of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and crab wrapped in soy paper, making for a striking visual presentation.
Justin D’Angelo mans the bar and tempts diners with a carefully-selected collection of premium Japanese sakes, as well as some very creative cocktails, such as the Sunset - an elixir of Grey Goose L’Orange, blood orange purée, and yuzu. Diners can also take their taste buds back in time with Art Deco-era cocktails to match the surrounding locale. D’Angelo’s take on the nearly forgotten Aviation cocktail blends Plymouth gin, Luxardo Maraschino liqeur, and strawberry purée for a fruity, refreshing spin on an old classic.
Umi is open from Sunday to Thursday from 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM, and from 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM on Fridays and Saturdays.
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
From its original locations in Estero and Ft. Myers, Blu Sushi is finally gracing Hallandale Beach with its vivacious presence and inventive sushi rolls combined with a chic setting, expertly concocted cocktails and top notch sake for an experience that is sure to change the way you think of dining out. I like to call it “The Blu Experience.” Blu’s location in The Village at Gulfstream Park is perfectly situated amongst all the excitement of the various bars, gambling, and racing that the locale is known for, and the restaurant stays true to its namesake with sultry blue décor and dim lighting, accented with a cascading water fixture. Choose to sit inside in one of their luxurious booths, at the sushi bar, or go alfresco on their patio, which is what I chose since the weather was particularly pleasant and there was no way I was going to let that breeze go to waste.
Shortly after we were seated, our waitress greeted us. She was both welcoming and informative as she explained the menu. Ordering just got simpler, as Blu Sushi has taken a new and unique approach to choosing your courses. With the pencils provided, diners are to mark what they’d like to order, which was made quite simple after receiving such wonderful recommendations from our server. When you’re done, just hand the menu to your server with your chosen items.
Naturally, I began my Blu journey with a cocktail. The Blu-Lini instantly caught my attention - the perfect combination of prosecco, peach puree, a little bit of simple syrup and the zest of a lemon provides an interesting twist to a classic Bellini with a hint of citrus. Bubbly and refreshing, it is the ideal reward for lunch after a morning of shopping or if you’re like me, at any time of day. Moving on to the appetizer, I was instantly drawn to the Zulu Shrimp and was quickly assured of my decision after taking the first bite. Tender and juicy shrimp are tempura fried to perfection and then tossed in the most addicting spicy mayonnaise sauce we all know and love. Zesty, creamy and crunchy all at the same time, this appetizer was the perfect start to my meal and left me anxiously anticipating what was to come.
There’s something about when a classic dish is made perfectly that just makes me happy, as witnessed in the Volcano Roll topped with a mixture of crab, spicy mayonnaise and smelt roe, baked, and served bubbly and hot. As you bite down on this roll, your mouth is filled with the combined textures and flavors of creamy, sweet, spicy and zesty all in one. Following the Volcano Roll and recommended to us by our waitress, the PB&J Roll consists of a spicy tuna and cream cheese roll topped with crispy fried tilapia slices, avocado, spicy mayonnaise, smelt roe, scallions and eel sauce. The flavors here are all very clearly defined and highlighted by distinct textures which make for one delicious and unique roll. Visually, my first impression of the PB&J, besides how beautiful it was, was the size; I could have very easily ordered this by itself and been satisfied. Clearly, the sushi chefs at Blu are generous in the portion department.
As if I hadn’t already had enough to eat, the Lava Drop was next for tasting. I guess I saved the best for last because despite how full I was, I could have very easily devoured another of these rolls. A mixture of chopped crab mixed with spicy mayonnaise and cream cheese is wrapped in sticky rice and cut into pieces. Each one is then individually dipped in tempura batter and fried. What rises to the top of the oil are little nuggets of sushi heaven. It is hard to refrain from closing your eyes when popping one of these into your mouth as it will most likely be the tastiest sushi roll you have ever had. Once the barrier of crunchy tempura is passed, the warm and gooey interior comes through with a hint of spiciness. A finishing drizzle of eel sauce ended my night on a truly delicious and sweet note.
Although that was my “Blu Experience”, a trip to Blu Sushi can be anything you make of it. You can have a seat in their outdoor bar just to have a drink and people watch, sit at the sushi bar for a quick bite, dine inside for an intimate sushi date or enjoy the weather out on the patio. Either way, Blu sushi is here to meet your every desire and is a wonderful addition to The Village at Gulfstream Park. For a nice surprise, once you’re at the restaurant, go inside and look up at the light fixture, I think you’ll be surprised with what you find.
600 Silks Run
Hallandale, FL 33009
Along with the cheerful spirit that the winter season brings comes exciting new dining options at The Village at Gulfstream Park. Known as South Florida’s ultimate shopping, dining and entertainment destination, the al fresco style mall has announced the opening of two energetic and delicious locations to add to the pre-existing spectacular lineup of bars and restaurants.
Having opened November 11th, Blu Sushi is sure to raise the bar for South Florida sushi restaurants with tasty rolls and an upbeat ambiance. Known for its innovative sushi creations and incredibly delicious cocktails, there is no doubt that this place will bring a new vibe to The Village at Gulfstream Park. The unique menu features a mix of traditional and inventive dishes including any sushi lover’s dream, the Leggo My Lobster Roll, complete with crispy lobster tempura, avocado and asparagus and topped with smelt roe, spicy mayo and eel sauce. Oh, and let’s not forget the stuffed lobster tail!
The combined experience of nightlife entertainment and gastro-tourism cuisine is also known at Martini Bar. Offering The Village at Gulfstream Park’s visitors a sophisticated experience perfect for a night on the town or an excuse to unwind after work. Martini Bar’s intimate yet elegant décor provides an array of events that include live entertainment, world renowned DJ’s and original works from choreographed artists. Get the party started with a martini from its extensive cocktail menu which features a full Skinny cocktail menu with fresh muddled fruits to keep you both skinny and happy, in-house infused sake and vodka, and specialty bourbon drinks.
There’s a pretty deeply-felt notion among Miamians that Fort Lauderdale lacks in the glamor and style that is prevalent in much of Dade County, which can translate into the idea that dining out in much of Broward consists of Guy Fieri’s treasured trilogy of diners, drive-ins, and dives. Food trends that have finally trickled down to Miami from the great food capitals of the world have to get in line behind other food trends that have yet to make it to Fort Lauderdale. Mixologists? Just be happy the bartender has a bottle of Bombay Sapphire for your G&T. On a recent trip to Fort Lauderdale Beach, however, I discovered that Miami’s condescending attitude towards Fort Lauderdale no longer applies. Miami’s neighbor to the north is outgrowing its old greasy spoon and dive bar image, and at very few places is it more prevalent than at SAIA, one of the most elegant Asian restaurants I’ve been to in South Florida, and a real surprise for any Miami food snob.
SAIA is situated on the ground floor of Fort Luaderdale Beach’s newest hotel addition, B Ocean, and is literally just steps away from the sand and surf. The hotel lobby is trendy, modern, yet still elegant with nothing that would be considered superfluous or over-the-top. Upon entering SAIA, one can see that the same design aesthetic and restraint is also present in the restaurant: white walls, dark wood floors and tables, half-mirrored light fixtures resembling bubbles, and a white marble illuminated sushi bar facing a textured wall that gives the impression of fish scales, all offering a minimalist maritime theme that pays tribute to Chef Subin’s specialty, seafood. An evening at SAIA is a sharing experience, like tapas or mezze, and while the menu represents a wide array of ingredients and styles, it is evident to the connoisseur that Chef Subin’s expertise lies in his treatment of all manner of sea creature.
We began our experience with two signature cocktails, The Bipolar Cocktail and a Hand-Shaken Ginger Lime Daiquiri. The daiquiri was pleasantly refreshing in both its simple balance of flavors and in the fact that it was a real daiquiri and not an alcoholic slurpee, while The Bipolar presented a surprising mix of Bombay Sapphire, absinthe, lemon, lychee, lemongrass, and egg white that made for an almost shockingly well-balanced drink, considering the contrasting elements that were involved. The bartender definitely got the message across that SAIA was not afraid to challenge itself with innovation, and this was repeatedly emphasized throughout my visit, especially in their Tropical Roll containing seared scallops, mushrooms, shiso leaf, cucumber, spicy miso, and topped with alternating slices of salmon sashimi and mango. The richness of the salmon was paired with the meatiness of the mushroom of which the texture complimented that of the scallop, whose sweetness was echoed beautifully with the slices of mango, leading me to believe that each element was carefully selected in this unforgettable sushi roll.
Unique seafood presentations continued to impress, such as Tamari Scallops nestled inside minced crab meat, wrapped with thin slices of big eye tuna sashimi, topped with masago, and gently adhering to whole shiso leaves with just a dollop of wasabi aioli - a veritable rose bud of seafood. Rice Cracker Tuna offered a unique East-West rendition of tuna tataki, where the tuna is coated in crumbled rice crackers, briefly fried so as to cook just the exterior, and served on a bed of dressed baby greens with avocado puree, tahini, and chili-spiked picked ginger batons. For those who are more partial to food coming from dry land, SAIA offers several options, including Mongolian Barbeque Lamb Lollipops, a poetic description for diminutive lamb chops served with a sweet soy dipping sauce meant to be eaten with your fingers, like a lollipop. Vegetarian options include an addictive green bean salad dressed with a black soy vinaigrette, Thai chili flakes, and fried garlic chips. Dessert options portray creative, Asian-inflected classics, such as a lemongrass and mango crème brûlée. While we partook in a well-made red bean mochi ice cream with mango sauce, we regretted not heading our waiter’s suggestion of the banana tempura, which looked like a dessert celebration at the table next to us.
Besides the elegant ambiance and spectacular cuisine, what is most remarkable at SAIA is the warm, attentive, and knowledgeable staff that seems to be more than just content at working there, but proud of being a part of it. Say what you will, but that’s one thing that’s hard to find in Miami. Each table was visited by Chef Subin, himself, as well as the restaurant manager, and our waiter ensured that every need was met, including offering us a platter from which to choose fresh silverwear. Fort Lauderdale Beach is growing up, and instead of emulating its neighbor to the south, it has taken clues from South Beach and has possibly surpassed it, as is evident at SAIA. SAIA B Ocean Fort Lauderdale 999 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 954.302.5252 www.SAIAsushi.com