Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cake Thai Kitchen - Miami

I've often bemoaned the cookie-cutter nature of most Thai restaurants in Miami. It's as if they all got the same regulation-issue menu from the "Bureau of Miami Thai Restaurants:" there's the "A" version which invariably has a nearly identical listing of satays, spring rolls, "volcano chicken," and choices of proteins with choices of different-hued curries; and there's the "B" version, which also includes sushi and other Japanese items.[1] The same dull consistency infects the preparation of those menu items: lackluster, tepidly spiced, and invariably too sweet.

There are a couple exceptions: I am a big fan of Panya Thai in North Miami Beach, and Ricky Thai Bistro nearby in North Miami, both of which I've been meaning to write about for a long time. Now I can add another to the list: Cake Thai Kitchen on  Biscayne Boulevard, just north of 79th Street.[2]

Back in December, after driving by the somewhat mysterious new sign (is it a bakery or a Thai restaurant? A Thai bakery?),[3] I found Cake's menu listed on an online delivery service website, and got pretty excited. Crispy rice with house-made fermented pork "salami," grilled pork neck, chili paste squid with salted egg ... clearly, the Bureau never sent them the regulation-issue menu.

(You can see all my pictures in this Cake Thai Kitchen flickr set).

And, most dishes were every bit as good as they sounded. When Thai food is made right, there's a balancing of extremes: salty, sour, spicy, sweet, bitter, funky and herbaceous all turned up really loud, ultimately combining to great effect - sort of like vintage Stooges. Cake's food had that going on.

(continued ...)