The Biscayne Times

Dec 12th
North Miami Beach PDF Print E-mail

Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written by Geoffrey Anderson and Dianne Rubin of Miami Food Pug (MFP), Andrew McLees (AM), Mandy Baca (MB), and the late Pamela Robin Brandt (PRB) ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but restaurants frequently change menus, chefs, and operating hours, so please call ahead to confirm information. Icons ($$$) represent estimates for a typical meal without wine, tax, or tip. Hyphenated icons ($-$$$) indicate a significant range in prices between lunch and dinner.

$ = $10 and under
$$ = $20
$$$ = $30
$$$$ = $40
$$$$$ = $50 and over


The Alchemist
17830 W. Dixie Hwy.
It’s impossible to walk into The Alchemist without smiling. The café is gorgeous, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating for all, including pets. Inside, the coffee shop lives up to its name with cool containers and quirky art that befit a mad scientist’s office. Open-face sandwiches and pizzettas make up most of the menu, which also includes risotto, escargot, and other fun items not typically found at your usual java joint. Plus, there’s beer and wine for unwinding. $-$$ (MFP)

Ají Carbón
16978 NE 19th Ave.
786- 955-6894
Embracing a decidedly contemporary take on traditional Peruvian dishes, Ají Carbón serves up tacu tacus, rice lomos, and chaufas, risottos, soups, and salads with an artful twist. Among the many standout entrées is the arborio, made with rocoto sauce and panko shrimp, embellished with a surprisingly welcome drizzle of sweet passion fruit reduction. Fans of Peru’s most treasured seafood treat, ceviche, will appreciate the variety: in addition to the traditional leche de tigre, guests can sample ceviches made with various sauces, including rocoto, yellow pepper, and cilantro. $$-$$$ (AM)

Bamboo Garden

1232 NE 163rd St.
Big enough for a banquet (up to 300 guests), this veteran is many diners’ favorite on the 163rd/167th Street “Chinatown” strip because of its superior décor. But the menu also offers well-prepared, authentic dishes like peppery black bean clams, sautéed mustard greens, and steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions, plus Chinese-American egg foo young. Default spicing is mild even in Szechuan dishes marked with red-chili icons, but don’t worry; realizing some like it hot, the chefs will customize spiciness to heroic heat levels upon request. $$ (PRB)

Chef Rolf’s Tuna’s Seafood Restaurant
17850 W. Dixie Hwy.
Known for decades as simply Tuna’s, this indoor/outdoor eatery, combining a casual vibe with some surprisingly sophisticated food, now has a name recognizing the culinary refinements introduced by Rolf Fellhauer, for 28 years executive chef at Continental fine-dining spot La Paloma. Additions to the predominantly seafood menu include chateaubriand or rack of lamb for two, both carved, with old-school spectacle, tableside. Owner Michael Choido has also renovated the interior dining room, and added the Yellowfin Lounge, which features an extensive selection of artisan beers. $$-$$$ (PRB)

CY Chinese
1242 NE 163rd St.
Szechuan cuisine is a fascinating and sometimes polarizing art -- not everyone is a fan of the pain wrought from the distinctive mouth-numbing heat. But if spicy pain is the name of your game, there’s plenty of joy to be found at CY Chinese, a worthy Chinese restaurant specializing in regional southwestern cuisine with a kick. Dishes range from typical Chinese fare (dumplings, egg rolls, pork, and duck served a million-and-one different ways) to exotic (signature dry pots, Szechuan dishes) to adventurous cuisine (tip: don’t order the mung bean jelly if you’re on a date, and if you don’t already know and love tripe, you might want to pass). All of the dishes sampled were delicious and unequivocally authentic, although perhaps a little bit too oily. All meals can be made to taste, so specify how much salt, oil, and spice you’d prefer with your server while ordering. If you can excuse the shabby interior and idiosyncratic yet strangely charming table service, the real deal is waiting for you at CY Chinese. $$-$$$ (AM)

Eat Green
14881 Biscayne Blvd.
What does it take to be the most eco-friendly, health conscious, and accessible restaurant in the city? Eat Green, a minuscule blip relegated to the sidelines of Biscayne Commons shopping plaza, may have the answers. Tiny but beautiful in a sleek minimalist way, Eat Green deserves credit for its thoughtful design: sustainable bamboo decor, pleasant lighting, and chemical-free diningware make eating clean seem like an infinitely more attractive proposal. Expect standard organic and farm-raised fare, including salads, wraps, quesadillas, soups, cold-pressed juices, and coffee. While this may seem like more of the same, it’s in no way disappointing, and should be noted that everything not only tastes good, but is affordable, too. Eat Green succeeds at paying respect to the earth while soothing the body, soul, and wallet with equal aplomb. $-$$ (AM)·

El Gran Inka
3155 NE 163rd St.
Though diners at this upscale Peruvian eatery will find ceviches, a hefty fried-seafood jalea, and Peru’s other expected traditional specialties, all presented far more elegantly than most in town, the contemporary Peruvian fusion creations are unique. Especially recommended are two dishes adapted from recipes by Peru’s influential nikkei (Japanese/Creole) chef Rosita Yimura: an exquisite, delicately sauced tiradito de corvina, and for those with no fear of cholesterol, pulpo de oliva (octopus topped with rich olive sauce). $$$-$$$$ (PRB)

Empire Szechuan Gourmet of NY
3427 NE 163rd St.
In the 1980s, Empire became the Chinese chain that swallowed Manhattan -- and transformed public perceptions of Chinese food in the NY metropolitan area. Before: bland faux-Cantonese dishes. After: lighter, more fiery fare from Szechuan and other provinces. This Miami outpost does serve chop suey and other Americanized items, but don't worry. Stick with Szechuan crispy prawns, Empire's Special Duck, cold sesame noodles, or similar pleasantly spicy specialties, and you’ll be a happy camper, especially if you’re an ex-New Yorker. $$ (PRB)

Ginza Japanese Buffet
16153 Biscayne Blvd.,
Highlighting the lunch and dinners spreads at this all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet are a hibachi station (where chefs custom-cook diners’ choice of seafood or meat), plus many types of maki rolls and individual nigiri sushi, both featuring a larger variety of seafood than at many sushi bars -- not just salmon and tuna but snapper, escolar, surf clam, snow crab, and more. But there are also steam-tabled hot Japanese and Chinese dishes; an array of cold shellfish and salads with mix-and-match sauces; and desserts. Selections vary, but value-for-money is a given. $$ (PRB)

Hiro Japanese Restaurant
3007 NE 163rd St., 305-948-3687
One of Miami’s first sushi restaurants, Hiro retains an amusing retro-glam feel, an extensive menu of both sushi and cooked Japanese food, and late hours that make it a perennially popular after-hours snack stop. The sushi menu has few surprises, but quality is reliable. Most exceptional are the nicely priced yakitori, skewers of succulently soy-glazed and grilled meat, fish, and vegetables; the unusually large variety available of the last makes this place a good choice for vegetarians. $$ (PRB)$

Hiro’s Sushi Express
17048 W. Dixie Hwy.
Tiny, true, but there’s more than just sushi at this mostly take-out spin-off of the pioneering Hiro. Makis are the mainstay (standard stuff like California rolls, more complex creations like multi-veg futomaki, and a few unexpected treats like a spicy Crunch & Caliente maki), available à la carte or in value-priced individual and party combo platters. But there are also bento boxes featuring tempura, yakitori skewers, teriyaki, stir-fried veggies, and udon noodles. Another branch is now open in Miami’s Upper Eastside. $ (PRB)

Ivan’s Gastro
14815 Biscayne Blvd.
Diners who remember Haitian-born, Le Cordon Bleu-trained Miami chef Ivan Dorvil’s lightened/brightened Caribbean dishes at pioneering Nuvo Kafe already know how French technique and gentle global (mainly Asian) touches can elevate homey island fare. A decade later, at the Chopped champion’s hip yet blessedly affordable new gastropub, the remarkably refined Haitian/Carib/Asian fusion dishes remain revelatory: rich yet clean-tasting shrimp mofongo; dainty akra (grated malanga fritters, crisp outside, creamy inside), served with puréed watercress sauce; oxtail, slow-braised in a red wine-enriched sauce -- as sophisticated as the best boeuf Bourguignon, but more decadent. $$-$$$ (PRB)

Jelly Bakery
17010 W. Dixie Hwy.
Suite H, 305-760-2149
Despite the name, Jelly Bakery is more than just sweets. Savory fare gets an equal share of the limelight here with breakfast items like a spinach and brie English muffin, ham and cheese omelet, and Venezuelan perico-style scrambled eggs. On the other side of the flavor spectrum are options like French toast, waffles, and pancakes. Regardless of what you order, a Jelly Coffee is warranted -- the mix of espresso, milk, and Nutella is addicting. $ (MFP)

Jerusalem Market and Deli
16275 Biscayne Blvd.
Specialties like shawarma, spinach pies, kebabs, hummus, and kibbeh (a savory mix of ground lamb and bulgur) are native to many Middle East countries, but when a Lebanese chef/owner, like this eatery’s Sam Elzoor, is at the helm, you can expect extraordinary refinement. There are elaborate daily specials here, like lemon chicken or stuffed cabbage with a variety of sides, but even a common falafel sandwich is special when the pita is also stuffed with housemade cabbage and onion salads, plus unusually rich and tart tahina. $-$$

3055 NE 163rd St.
This place makes a very good tahini sauce. In fact that alone is reason enough to visit. We prefer ours with this bright, cheery eatery’s delightfully oniony falafel or a veg-garnished wrap of thin-sliced marinated beef schwarma. They also do a beautifully spiced, and reassuringly fresh-tasting, raw kibbi naye (Middle Eastern steak tartare). It’s hard to resist putting together a grazing meal of starters and wraps, but there’s also a roster of full entrées (with soup or salad plus starch), including tempting vegetarian and seafood meals for noncarnivores. $$ (PRB)

Kebab Indian Restaurant
514 NE 167th St.
Since the 1980s this restaurant, located in an unatmospheric mini strip mall but surprisingly romantic inside (especially if you grab one of the exotically draped booths) has been a popular destination for reasonably priced north Indian fare. Kormas are properly soothing and vindaloos are satisfactorily searing, but the kitchen will adjust seasonings upon request. They aim to please. Food arrives unusually fast for an Indian eatery, too. $$ (PRB)

King Palace
330 NE 167th St.
Specialties here are authentic Chinatown-style BBQ (whole ducks, roast pork strips, etc., displayed in a glass case by the door), and fresh seafood dishes, the best made with the live fish swimming in two tanks by the dining room entrance. There’s also a better than average selection of seasonal Chinese veggies, like delicate sautéed pea shoots. The menu is extensive, but the best ordering strategy, since the place is usually packed with Asians, is to see what looks good on nearby tables, and point. Servers will also steer you to the good stuff, once you convince them you’re not a chop suey kinda person. $$ (PRB)

Korean Kitchen
1661 NE 163rd St. Ste. A
It may not look like much on the outside, but delicious Korean food awaits inside this North Miami Beach gem. Korean Kitchen cooks up a wealth of familiar dishes like beef bulgogi and sweet and spicy wings -- things you may encounter at similar spots. The real winners are the “less accessible” items like fish cake soup, squid stir fry, and steamed eggs; you’ll be hard pressed to find those selections elsewhere. Go in with an open mind and you’ll have a great time. $ (MFP)

Laurenzo’s Market Café
16385 W. Dixie Hwy.
It’s just a small area between the wines and the fridge counters – no potted palms, and next-to-no service in this cafeteria-style space. But when negotiating this international gourmet market’s packed shelves and crowds has depleted your energies, it’s a handy place to refuel with eggplant parmesan and similar Italian-American classics, housemade from old family recipes. Just a few spoonfuls of Wednesday’s hearty pasta fagiole, one of the daily soup specials, could keep a person shopping for hours. And now that pizza master Carlo is manning the wood-fired oven, you can sample the thinnest, crispiest pies outside Napoli. $-$$ (PRB)

Lettuce & Tomato
17070 W. Dixie Hwy.
Despite its inauspicious location, this unassuming gastropub is a certified gem, priding itself on using fresh, seasonal ingredients to create inspired takes on salads, sandwiches, burgers, and gourmet bites. An earnest labor of love for husband and wife team Roy and Agostina Starobinsky, this cozy spot presents a thoughtful seltion of flavorful offerings, including a quinoa cremosa adorned with truffle oil and microgreens, a house-cured salmon tosta, braised pork belly buns, and grilled octopus. Drink seltions include a Tokyo Bloody Mary, mimosas, and a delightfully satisfying Asian take on a classic mojito, made with sake instead of traditional rum. Lettuce & Tomato deserves credit for crafting an unpretentious menu that doesn’t skimp on quality or inventiveness. A most welcome surprise. $$ (AM) 

Little Saigon
16752 N. Miami Ave.
This is Miami’s oldest traditional Vietnamese restaurant, but it’s still packed most weekend nights. So even the place’s biggest negative – its hole-in-the-wall atmosphere, not encouraging of lingering visits – becomes a plus since it ensures fast turnover. Chef/owner Lily Tao is typically in the kitchen, crafting green papaya salad, flavorful beef noodle pho (served with greens, herbs, and condiments that make it not just a soup but a whole ceremony), and many other Vietnamese classics. The menu is humongous. $-$$ (PRB)

Merkado 31 by Cholo’s
1127 NE 163rd St.
Merkado 31 is a welcome update to the Peruvian spot formerly known as Cholo’s Ceviche & Grill. Apart from its spiffy new digs, there’s a new menu, including an entire section called Merkado Green, aimed at healthy eaters, vegetarians, and vegans -- the citrusy quinoa is a must-try. But if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, the piled-high causas and Ceviche Clasico are mainstays. $-$$ (MB)

Moon Thai
Intracoastal Mall 3455 NE 163rd St.
The original Moon Thai opened in Coral Gables in 2000, and the restaurant has since expanded with Kendall, Coral Springs, and Weston locations (to name a few). One of its newest outposts is in North Miami Beach, where guests can dig into a variety of Thai and Japanese specialties. Whether you choose the organic Japanese menu or the organic Thai menu, there’s no shortage of options for any palate. If you’re only a little bit hungry, then the à la carte seafood selections are the way to go. Otherwise, the noodles and curries are your best bets. $$-$$$ (MFP)

Nothing Bundt Cakes
15400 Biscayne Blvd.
Suite #112
Nothing Bundt Cakes is saying something with their satisfying sweets. The bakery behemoth’s new location in Aventura offers Nothing’s signature item in a wide range of sizes and flavors. Want to indulge without hating yourself later? A bite-size red velvet or pecan praline bundtini is the way to go. Otherwise, dig into a mini confetti bundtlet or go all out with a bundtlet tower or a tiered cake. If you have a particular bundt cake in mind, they likely have it. $-$$$$ (MFP)

Oishi Thai
14841 Biscayne Blvd.
At this stylish Thai/sushi spot, try the menu of specials, many of which clearly reflect the young chef’s fanatical devotion to fresh fish, as well as the time he spent in the kitchen of Knob: broiled miso-marinated black cod; rock shrimp tempura with creamy sauce; even Nobu Matsuhisa’s “new style sashimi” (slightly surface-seared by drizzles of hot olive and sesame oil). The specials menu includes some Thai-inspired creations, too, such as veal massaman curry, Chilean sea bass curry, and sizzling filet mignon with basil sauce. $$$-$$$$ (PRB)

Panya Thai
520 NE 167th St.
Unlike authentic Chinese cuisine, there’s no shortage of genuine Thai food in and around Miami. But Panya’s chef/owner, a Bangkok native, offers numerous regional and/or rare dishes not found elsewhere. Plus he doesn’t automatically curtail the heat or sweetness levels to please Americans. Among the most intriguing: moo khem phad wan (chewy deep-fried seasoned pork strips with fiery tamarind dip, accompanied by crisp green papaya salad); broad rice noodles stir-fried with eye-opening chili/garlic sauce and fresh Thai basil; and chili-topped Diamond Duck in tangy tamarind sauce. $$-$$$ (PRB)

16265 Biscayne Blvd.
From the outside, this strip-mall Mexican eatery couldn’t be easier to overlook. Inside, however, its festivity is impossible to resist. Every inch of wall space seems to be covered with South of the Border knickknacks. And if the kitschy décor alone doesn’t cheer you, the quickly arriving basket of fresh (not packaged) taco chips, or the mariachi band, or the knockout margaritas will. Food ranges from Tex-Mex burritos and a party-size fajita platter to authentic Mexican moles and harder-to-find traditional preparations like albóndigas – spicy, ultra-savory meatballs. $$-$$$ (PRB)

17010 W. Dixie Hwy.
Run -- don’t walk -- to this hidden North Miami Beach gem that boasts a bevy of Vietnamese staples like pho and bahn mis. Given the name, such selections should come as no surprise. What is surprising, though, is the pricing. The majority of items cost less than $10, but their quality warrants a higher valuation. No meal here is complete without an order of 5-spice chicken wings or egg rolls, either of which can be had for less than a Lincoln. $ (MFP)

Roasters & Toasters
18515 NE 18th Ave.
Attention ex-New Yorkers: Is your idea of food porn one of the Carnegie Deli’s mile-high pastrami sandwiches? Well, Roasters will dwarf them. Consider the “Carnegie-style” monster containing, according to the menu, a full pound of succulent meat (really 1.4 pounds; we weighed it), for a mere 15 bucks. All the other Jewish deli classics are here too, including perfectly sour pickles, silky hand-sliced nova or lox, truly red-rare roast beef, and the cutest two-bite mini-potato pancakes ever — eight per order, served with sour cream and applesauce. $$ (PRB)

Sang’s Chinese Restaurant
1925 NE 163rd St.
Sang’s has three menus. The pink menu is Americanized Chinese food, from chop suey to honey garlic chicken. The white menu permits the chef to show off his authentic Chinese fare: salt and pepper prawns, rich beef/turnip casserole, tender salt-baked chicken, even esoterica like abalone with sea cucumber. The extensive third menu offers dim sum, served until 4:00 p.m. A live tank allows seasonal seafood dishes like lobster with ginger and scallion. Recently installed: a Chinese barbecue case, displaying savory items like crispy pork with crackling attached. $$$ (PRB)

Siam Square
54 NE 167th St.
This addition to North Miami Beach’s “Chinatown” strip has become a popular late-night gathering spot for chefs from other Asian restaurants. And why not? The food is fresh, nicely presented, and reasonably priced. The kitchen staff is willing to customize dishes upon request, and the serving staff is reliably fast. Perhaps most important, karaoke equipment is in place when the mood strikes. $-$$ (PRB)

Sushi House
15911 Biscayne Blvd.
In terms of décor drama, this sushi spot seems to have taken its cue from Philippe Starck: sheer floor-to-ceiling drapes, for starters. The sushi list, too, is over the top, featuring monster makis like the Cubbie Comfort: spicy tuna, soft-shell crab, shrimp and eel tempura, plus avocado, jalapeños, and cilantro, topped with not one but three sauces: wasabi, teriyaki, and spicy mayo. Hawaiian King Crab contains unprecedented ingredients like tomatoes, green peppers, and pineapple. Boutique wines, artisan sakes, and cocktails are as exotic as the cuisine. $$$-$$$$ (PRB)

Sushi Sake
13551 Biscayne Blvd.
Chic Asian-accented décor, video screens, 99-cent drink deals, and late-night hours make this hip hangout not just a sushi bar but sort of a neighborhood bar, too. That said, the sushi is impressive, mainly because seafood is delivered daily and all except the shrimp is fresh, not frozen (as is customary at most Miami sushi places). Also notable: All sauces are housemade. Cooked makis like a crunch-topped Miami Heat are most popular, but it’s as sashimi that the fish’s freshness truly shines. $$-$$$ (PRB)

Tania’s Table
18685 W. Dixie Hwy.
A location at the tail end of a tiny, tired-looking strip mall makes this weekday lunch-only kosher eatery easy to miss. But the cute bistro, an extension of chef Tania Sigal’s catering company, is well worth seeking for its unusually varied daily-changing menus -- not just familiar Eastern European-derived dishes (chicken matzoh ball soup, blintzes, etc.) but numerous Latin American specialties (zesty ropa vieja), Asian-influenced items (Thai chicken/noodle salad), lightened universal Ladies-Who-Lunch classics (custardy quiches, grilled trout with mustard sauce), and homemade baked goods. $$ (PRB)

Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin
73 NE 167th St.
Too often purist vegetarian food is unskillfully crafted bland stuff, spiced with little but sanctimonious intent. Not at this modest-looking vegan (dairy-free vegetarian) restaurant and smoothie bar. Dishes from breakfast's blueberry-packed pancakes to Caribbean vegetable stews sparkle with vivid flavors. Especially impressive: mock meat (and fake fish) wheat-gluten items that beat many carnivorous competitors. Skeptical? Rightly. But we taste-tested a “Philly cheese steak" sandwich on the toughest of critics -- an inflexibly burger-crazy six year-old. She cleaned her plate. $$ (PRB)

3881 NE 163rd. St. (Intracoastal Mall)
After sushi chefs close up their own restaurants for the night, many come here for a rare taste of Japanese home cooking, served in grazing portions. Try glistening-fresh strips of raw tuna can be had in maguro nuta – mixed with scallions and dressed with habit-forming honey-miso mustard sauce. Other favorites include goma ae (wilted spinach, chilled and dressed in sesame sauce), garlic stem and beef (mild young shoots flash-fried with tender steak bits), or perhaps just-caught grouper with hot/sweet/tangy chili sauce. Open till around 3:00 a.m. $$ (PRB)


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