If you know me, you know my food habits. One of those being my obsessive need to sniff out the best eateries in town, particularly when I’ve just moved to a new one. Part of this quirk is innate, it’s something I’ve done for years, and part of it was encouraged by Logan, a legendary food detective in his own right. When the two of us get together, very few restaurants worth visiting elude our noses, and this past visit was no exception.
The gang was all together, Logan, Lobe (my sister, a.k.a. Sara) and myself. We embarked on a late night wander around downtown Miami with the intention of finding some tasty, yet-to-be-discovered places to get a great plate of food.
After hitting up a sleepy conveyor belt sushi joint, we turned a corner and there it was, Sakaya Kitchen, an Asian brasserie/gastropub of sorts, just the thing we were searching for. The enormous neon pig in the window was enough to motivate a brisk walk across the street. Upon entering, we were faced with a gargantuan floor to ceiling menu containing countless dishes, all of which seemed to involve pork, duck, beef, shrimp or some combination of those.
Now for those of you who have had the pleasure of eating out with Mr. Crumpton, you know that there are times when everyone orders for themselves, and there are times when you put yourself in his capable hands to take care of the ordering. Even a knowledgeable food-lover such as myself knows the proper time to cede control of the meal, and I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed when Logan takes the helm. This was one of those times, so my sister and I took our places at the table and let the man go to work, not quite knowing what we’d be enjoying.
He joined us moments later with a smile on his face as if to say, “mission accomplished”. Moments later our number was called and it was chow time. Logan plopped the tray in front of us as we got our first glimpse of the feast. A cracklin’ duck herb sandwich with black plum, quick pickles and scallions was first to catch my attention. The succulent duck had an awesome char on the tips but was moist and tender at the center. Pair that with the crisp quick pickles, scallions and savory plum sauce, I could’ve told you this would be a winner without even tasting it.
Bahn Mi Buns. Nothing more really needs to be said, but I can’t help myself. The boys and girls at Sakaya Kitchen did these right and stuffed them full of pork belly, paté de tete, kimchi carrots, spicy mayo and cilantro. If I were a big wig executive putting on a presentation for my investors, a platter of these is all I’d need to impress. The flavors were spot on, sumptuous pork belly, refreshing veg, and an electric mayo to tie it all together. I’m no prognosticator, but I see more Bahn Mi Buns in my future.
Next was the Bo Ssam bowl with grilled shrimp, spicy sticky rice banchan. Bo Ssam for those who don’t know, is slow-roasted Korean pork wrapped with a leaf vegetable. This was more of a deconstructed presentation as the verdant leaf was stuffed next to the pork like a garnish. This was definitely the main event. I wish this shot showed the scale better, because this was a monstrous bowl of pork. So monstrous in fact that I could’ve worn it like a Stormtrooper helmet, and I have an enormous head. I digress. The pork was fork tender, it fell apart faster than the New York Jets playoff bid, and it was smothered with a spicy herbed sauce. The shrimp on the other hand were perfectly cooked and fresh as can be. In my experience, shrimp can be a very problematic protein. So many times I’ve received tough, nearly inedible, fishy pieces of crap. Sakaya Kitchen did not dishonor this animal in the slightest. It was a fantastic take on surf n’ turf. The stash of quick pickles under the mound of rice was a nice surprise, and that coming from a known pickle hater.
We ended things with what sounded like a sure-fire star, a bacon Nutella shake. While it was delicious, we noted a distinct lack of bacon flavor. That may just be because we’re hog hounds, but I think next time we’ll order it with extra bacon, and maybe a side of pork belly for good measure.
I have to say I was very impressed with Sakaya Kitchen overall. In a town like Miami that can leave you wanting when it comes to certain food cultures, Sakaya Kitchen fills a void with an eatery not unlike something you’d find in downtown Manhattan. It’s a welcome addition to the South Florida food scene and I sincerely hope to see more like it. My next goal is to check out their wandering food truck Dim Ssam A Go-Go. Supposedly they use all-natural proteins, organic dairy and even support local farmers! You look me in the eye and tell me that doesn’t have Eat a Duck written all over it! Look out for the review soon!