I still have little hope of keeping up with the pace of Miami restaurant openings, but lately I've made a small dent in the list. Saturday before last, I braved my way through Miami Boat Show traffic to visit Talde Miami Beach, Chef Dale Talde's new restaurant in the Thompson Hotel (OK, maybe not even so new any more - it opened in November).
(You can see all my pictures in this Talde Miami Beach flickr set).
Where its companion in the Thompson, Michelle Bernstein's Seagrape, harmonizes with the hotel's 1950's, Morris Lapidus vibe, Talde brings a little of Chef Talde's Brooklyn home base to the beach: half the seating is in a re-purposed shipping container, graffiti covers the walls, hip hop blares over the speakers. The menu is similar to the chef's Brooklyn outpost which also bears his name, and features a hodge-podge of unabashedly inauthentic "Asian-American" dishes: kung pao chicken wings, pretzel pork and chive dumplings and the like.
It's a refreshingly casual place in a part of the beach that is becoming increasingly fancy. Prices are not exactly cheap, but they aren't ridiculous either, especially the short list featured on the "Late Night Noodles" menu from midnight to 4am on Thursdays to Saturdays for the club kids crowd.
I took a spot at the small kitchen counter that lines the back of the restaurant, where I tried a few things including one real standout: Talde's chow fun with braised pork and mustard greens. The broad rice noodle is given an unusual presentation, rolled in a tight spiral and seared on its top surface, the idea being that you break up the noodle and mix it with the rest of the components at the table. It makes for a great combination of crispy and chewy. The noodle, once given some encouragement, is an effective vehicle for the flavors of the tender braised pork, a broth that's redolent of sweet soy (and possibly Chinese fermented black beans), and some pleasantly tangy pickled mustard greens that provide much-wanted brightness.
I'll be back soon to try the Benton's bacon dumplings and the Korean fried chicken with spicy kimchi yogurt.