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Showing posts from September, 2011

Chef Philip Ho - Sunny Isles

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People of South Florida, I have an important announcement. There is a new dim sum restaurant. In Sunny Isles. And it appears to be quite good.

This is not my usual style. I usually will give a place at least a couple of visits, and typically a couple of months after opening, before writing about it. But there is dim sum involved here, people. I love dim sum.

Dim sum options in Miami are fairly limited. Most often, we make the pilgrimage south to Tropical Chinese, which I prefer to some of the other more southerly options, Kon Chau and South Garden. Chu's Taiwan Kitchen in Coral Gables is in my weekday lunch rotation, and is also one of the few places in town that have xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. On the northern end of town we used to frequent Hong Kong Noodles, which was inconsistent, not exactly the cleanest place, and closed down a while ago; I could never get that excited over Sang's. And of course there is Hakkasan in the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach, which is excel…

CobayaJeremiah with Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog

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Though our Cobaya - Gourmet Guinea Pigs events are sometimes called "underground" dinners, that's probably a bit of a misnomer, since we happily have some events in operating restaurants. But we really do strive for each of them to be an experiment. What we want, very simply, is for both chefs and diners to see it as an opportunity to try something new and different, to take chances.

Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog of the gastroPod has been one of our most steadfast supporters and facilitators since we started doing these dinners two years ago. He didn't cook our first dinner, but he did do the second one, and has lent a hand and sometimes even a kitchen to severalothers. So when Jeremiah came back from a trip to the MAD FoodCamp in Copenhagen and a stage at Noma[1] restaurant full of inspiration, we were glad to line up another dinner.

There were several firsts for this dinner: it was our first time trying staggered seatings, with rounds of about 8 diners being seated every…

Phuc Yea! - Pop-Up Downtown Miami

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I usually try to give a restaurant at least a couple of visits and a couple of months before writing about it. But with Phuc Yea!, a Vietnamese pop-up restaurant slated to be open only a few months total, that may be too late for the information to be of much use. Phuc Yea! doesn't follow the rules of a normal restaurant, and so my review won't either.

Official opening night was last Thursday, and I was there. We had a great meal, basically eating our way through the entire menu and then back again. You should go and do the same.

I gave a bit of a preview last week and won't repeat what's said there. But a bit of nitty gritty before talking about the food. Phuc Yea! is operating out of the "Crown Bistro" space located within the Ingraham Building downtown, across from the Gusman Center. There is no signage outside on the building for either Phuc Yea! or Crown Bistro. You get to it via SE 2nd Avenue, where there is an entrance just north of the main entrance …

A Little Bird Told Me (Twitter for Restaurants)

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A local restaurant recently used Twitter to do a very smart thing: it asked its followers how they thought the restaurant could more effectively use social media like Facebook and Twitter to better serve its customers. My response was perhaps a bit harsh:
More tweeting of daily specials, menu updates; less retweeting of every single tweet mentioning you, no matter how inane? But it's a pretty accurate encapsulation of my thinking on what is a very worthwhile question to ask; worthwhile enough that I thought it was worth expanding upon.

Some qualifiers: I'm not a PR person. I make no claim to being a social media expert. In fact, I do my best to ignore and avoid stuff like Foursquare and really have never taken much of a shine to Facebook either for that matter. But I like Twitter.

So who am I to have anything to say here? I'm a diner. A diner who is on Twitter and reading your restaurant's Twitter feed. (In fact I've got a list with every Miami restaurant I know of…

My 7 Links

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One of the consequences of the immediacy and constancy of social media is that content tends to get buried under the neverending avalanche of information. A blog post that is more than 24 hours old won't even be seen in many peoples' RSS readers. Some good writers have given up on their blogs entirely, finding it more convenient and effective to communicate their thoughts in 140-character Twitter bursts, the epitome of ephemera. What any of us were saying last month, let alone last year, often gets lost in the electronic ether.

I'm usually wary of anything that sounds like a chain letter, i.e. "Do this and then ask another five people to do it." But I'm a big fan of recycling, including recycling blog content. I was also honored to have been nominated by Doc Sconzo (one of the people who indirectly inspired me to start this blog) to participate in something called "My 7 Links" started by the Tripbase website, the idea of which is "to unite blog…

Genuine South Beach?

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Down the block over at Miami Rankings, there's some concern over the recent announcement that Chef Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink will be taking over the restaurant (and all F&B) at South Beach's Raleigh Hotel. South Beach, with its fancy cars, glitzy hotels, and abundant breast implants, may seem a potentially less than "genuine" move. This, no less, right on the heels of the news that Schwartz is also taking over Jonathan Eismann's recently closed PizzaVolante spot in the Design District to open Harry's Pizzeria (named for the chef's son, who is still a bit too young to be working a regular shift on the pizza oven).

I understand the concern. And I have noparticularlove for South Beach myself. But I think some of the worry is misplaced.

The success of Michael's Genuine since it opened in 2007 was and remains a significant development in Miami restaurant history in a number of respects. Along with Michy's on Biscay…

Phuc Me? Phuc You!

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Several weeks ago, I was disappointed to hear that Aniece Meinhold and Cesar Zapata had packed their bags and left Blue Piano. I'd only gotten in once to the pocket-sized wine bar and music lounge just north of the Design District, but was very pleasantly surprised by the well-selected wines and the creative and tasty tapas-style bites while Aniece was running the bar and Cesar was in the kitchen.

Silver lining and whatnot, Aniece and Cesar, along with Daniel Treiman (chef and occasional Short Order and Eater Miami contributor) are now teaming up to do Phuc Yea!, a modern Vietnamese pop-up restaurant that will have a 3-month run in downtown Miami.

Launch date is this Thursday September 8, after which they will be up and running Tuesday - Saturday from 5:30pm - 10:30pm until November. Phuc Yea! will be setting up camp in the Crown Bistro, located inside the Ingraham Building in downtown Miami (19 SE 2nd Avenue).

Some preview menu highlights include mini banh mi sandwiches with roa…

Ned Ludd - Portland, Oregon

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There are times when you are just utterly charmed by a restaurant. It may not be the most breathtaking food, it may not be the most ostentatious decoration, it may not be the most obsequious service, but sometimes a place captures a bit of magic that seems to make every piece of a meal fit together perfectly. That was our experience with Ned Ludd.

Ned Ludd the man was a late 18th century weaver who, in a fit of unexplained rage, destroyed two knitting machines. Decades later, this little incident acquired something of a mystical aura as he became the mascot to the Luddites, a group of rebellious textile workers who vainly opposed the developments of the Industrial Revolution, opposition that was often expressed by breaking the machines that were taking away their jobs.


Ned Ludd the restaurant is not quite so revolutionary, but the name is definitely a signal. The food here is very down to earth, the preparation methods simple, primarily using a wood-burning oven that was left behind …