Friday, June 11, 2021

Sunday Brunching In Brickell's Backyard - Welcome to AWA Miami

The words "backyard" and "Brickell" are usually not used interchangeably but there is a great new spot that's been open for a couple of months at 25 SE 5th Street in Brickell, featuring 6 bars and 8 foodie destinations, called Riverside. Riverside is a trendy, 120,000 square-foot waterfront venue that combines the best of Miami's entertainment, gastronomy, and culture in a beautifully landscaped setting in the heart of Brickell. It is here that we experienced AWA Miami, an Izakayan concept led by Chef Gonzalo Arganaras, that offers contemporary Japanese cuisine with Asian influences.

AWA Miami just started offering a Sunday Brunch that is a full-on Miami experience. Imagine sitting by the river, enjoying the warm breeze as you sip on Bottomless Mimosas. Sound appealing? I thought it would. There are two price fixed menus to choose from. The first is for two people - $94 (which is the one we shared) and the other is for three -$144. Two hours of Bottomless Mimosas are available for an additional $30 per person.

I'll start by saying the brunch includes an amazing sampling of dishes. They really combined a flavorful variety of their signature favorites to create a well-balanced and memorable brunch combination. For starters, we indulged in Edamame topped with Maldon Sea Salt, Brussel Sprouts, and Shrimp Panko served with Spicy Mayo. Between admiring the colorful plating of the dishes, and enjoying some good old people-watching, we couldn't think of a better place to spend a Sunday afternoon. Let me stop here to tell you that the Brussel Sprouts taste unbelievable. I could easily have taken some home to eat on the couch. Sweet and crispy, the tanginess of the balsamic tsume and the texture of the toasted almonds took each bite to a new level.

Since the dishes are served family style and as they are ready, next up we tried the four Main Courses. The first was the Awa Poke, a fresh salad prepared with green cabbage, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a boiled egg, then drizzled with wasabi oil vinegar. Our waiter also brought out the Chicken Bao Buns and the Awa Salmon Roll. The warm, fluffy steamed buns were harmonious on the palate, and the chicken was mixed with cabbage and a creamy spicy mayo that brought it all together. The maki salmon roll was made with avocado and tuna inside, then topped with crispy rice, aji amarillo, eel sauce and salmon. All of this was bathed in my favorite ingredient in the whole creation - truffle oil. Can you just imagine the flavor explosion? The last dish in the main course line up was the Pork Hot Stone, a flavorful blend of fried rice and pickled vegetables.

The dessert that was on the menu were the Thai Donuts, however, we got to enjoy their signature AWA Lava Cake. I don't have to tell you the smile on my face when our server brought it to the table- being the chocolate lover that I am. Even though we were both tugging at our tight clothing, we went to work on that happy ending. When we finished spooning the chocolate molten cake with the raspberry coulis and the scoop of vanilla ice-cream, we sat back, took a deep breath and smiled as we sipped our last drops of mimosa.

I highly recommend a trip out to Riverside, Brickell's Backyard, to treat yourself to an amazing Sunday Brunch at AWA Miami. You will be truly mesmerized. For more information, you can contact them at 786-859-8990.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Heaven Is Really A Place in Mykonos And Heaven Mykonos In CityPlace Doral Is The Place For Brunch

Have you ever awakened with the strong desire to enjoy brunch in a far out destination, while relaxing by blue-domed Cycladic buildings, sipping on mimosas and craft cocktails, and eating swordfish carpaccio and feta cheese? No? Too specific? Well, even if you just dream of venturing to Greece for a culinary brunch escape but can't necessarily fly nine hours to get there because you have to work the next day, I have found the perfect solution nestled in the heart of none other than Doral. Heaven is really a place in Mykonos, which in turn really is a place in Miami.

Heaven Mykonos, located in CityPlace Doral, features Mediterranean and Southern European cuisine and decor, including those notable blue-domed Cycladic buildings I visited about ten years ago in Mykonos and have since dreamt of many times as the backdrop of my romantic escape. We sat in a comfortable booth, our piece of Heaven for the trip, while admiring the lavish chandeliers and long colorful drapes. The saxophone and live DJ tunes provided auditory ambiance for our journey to the Old World, also known as their Rose Brunch Party, featuring 50% off bottles of champagne and rose wine during Sunday Brunch hours (just think Bodvar House of Roses). Boasting seafood creations that taste as if they were just fished from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean coast, you will temporarily forget that you didn’t even need a passport to enter.

We started our three hour brunch vacation by ordering mimosas because it was National Mimosa Day (in the United States, but we decided to celebrate it at Mykonos too). Mixed with the perfect amount of bubbly and orange juice, our taste buds were longing for another before our first dishes arrived. Remember those authentic seafood platters I mentioned earlier? We savored fresh Oysters and Swordfish Carpaccio while dipping homemade pita bread into a Feta Cheese Dip drizzled with olive oil and kalamata dust. Now I’m starting to wonder if that dream I had was just deja vu after all.

Next, we contrasted the seafood and fresh feta taste by introducing our palettes to a lustrous Beef Tartare topped with caviar. The presentation is unbelievable, as they bring it out underneath a glass dome, where they immerse all your senses in the smokiness of the dish, by slowly lifting the glass and allowing the delicious aroma to escape.  It is here where Heaven Mykonos conquered both the land and the sea. Check out my IG post to see a video of this amazing presentation. While we enjoyed this special treat, and eagerly our awaited our next course, our taste buds craved a bit more liquid creations to pair with our oncoming entrees. First, we imbibed on Flora, a specialized cocktail with tequila, raspberry syrup, lemon juice, and creme de violette. Just as the name implies, it was flowery, light, and sweet. We also decided to take a sip on the mythological side with the Medusa, which contained gin, Chambord, blueberry syrup, and lemon juice. Medusa may have been the villain of her story, but this cocktail was the hero of ours.

Returning to our ocean roots, our first entree was the Grilled Octopus. Soft and matched with a creamy romesco sauce, our forks were twirling the remnants before the plate was switched with Huevos Rotos,  a dish from their new brunch menu. Truffled potato chips, fried egg and jamón were assorted together in a paradise born from the Spanish countryside. We ended our holiday with French Toast, a happy ending comprised of a brioche soaked overnight with jamón ibérico syrup, and cinnamon ice cream. It was the sweetest end to our travels across the culinary cobblestones.

By the end of our time at Heaven Mykonos, I didn’t want to pack up and go. Though our vacation was quite short, I will be visiting Mykonos much more often now that Miami has a culinary embassy representing it, without having to partake in the nine hour flight!

For more information, visit

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

From NYC to Miami - Let's Give Temakase a Hand....Roll

Or actually....Temakase is giving you a handroll - or many of them I should say.

Straight from the East Village in New York, Temakase has made its way to the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach, bringing us in the 305 their ever popular omakase-style handrolls. Restaurateurs Liron Michaeli and Anthony Shnayderman have opened a South Beach outpost of the beloved hand roll bar, featuring the same menu as the one in the Big Apple. 

From a-la-carte menu options, to preset menus, diners can choose whether they want to pick what they're having, or be adventurous (like me) and let the chef decide (omakase). Depending on how hungry you are, you can choose from the I Could Eat, Hungry, Starving or Hangry. Guess which one we had? The Hangry of course.

The cocktails are fantastic as well, and my personal favorite way to enjoy the experience is starting off with an appetizer from the menu (like the Crispy Tuna), and then going for the omakase. The freshness of the fish is outstanding - and what truly stood out for me was the crispy seaweed that literally crackled when we bit into it coupled with their signature soft, warm rice. There was truly a flavor explosion in each handroll and we couldn't stop talking about the Truffle Blue Crab, the Toro, the Lobster Roll and the Spicy Scallop. Best part is that you literally enjoy each handroll within 30 seconds of the chef preparing it, which elevates the experience to new heights.

Hurry on over to the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach and treat yourself to an amazing experience at Temakase. Their plans are to be there for a year, so don't miss out. Because of limited capacity, reservations are highly encouraged and they can be made on Open Table. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Brickell's Newest Sushi Hot Spot - Paperfish Brickell - No Passport Needed

Ever since traveling abroad has become so difficult, wouldn't it be nice to get in your car, drive a few miles, bypass the passport, and enter the land of sushi? Well now you can...

Grand Opening 

Grand Opening

Grand Opening

Grand Opening

New Tokyo-inspired Izakaya hot spot, Paperfish Sushi, recently opened their doors at 1421 S. Miami Avenue.  You have to make sure to be looking in the right direction or you will miss it. And you certainly don't want to do that. Offering a modern-meets-traditional combination of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, Paperfish Sushi brings a warm, original feel to the Nikkei experience, while incorporating traditional tastes and ingredients.

The first thing you will notice are the red torii gates - symbolically marking the tradition from the mundane to the sacred. Once you walk up the steps, you will find yourself approaching the open-aired terrace, adorned with draping plants, Japanese street signs and a sea of soft-lit paper lanterns. The music and the ambiance give the place a special vibe that signal the beginning of a magical experience.

Inside, a clean palate of natural materials, wood accents and handcrafted ceramics offset the pink petals of an enchanting cherry blossom tree-lined dining room.  Cherry blossoms (or sakura, as they're known in Japan) are a special flower for the people of the country, and they symbolize a time of renewal. That is exactly what we felt when we sat down and began our culinary adventure at Paperfish Sushi - a warm, social dining experience highlighting the beginning of a renewed time for everyone.  At the back of the room, a large screen plays black and white images. We loved it.

Let me start with the cocktails. Sweet and refreshing, the Japanese spirits mix with tropical flavors, making each sip just as amazing as the last. You really can't go wrong with any of them. My personal favorites were the Flower Blossom and the Paper Mule but the cocktail menu is so extensive, I will need to visit several more times to really choose.

As for the food... the menu consists of a mix of small and main plates perfect for sharing. It is broken up into sections of Zensai (appetizers), Raw Bar, Salads, Sushi and Tokusen (main dishes) with daily executive lunch and Omakase tasting menus available. On our adventure, we sampled a variety of appetizers, Nigiri, and Sushi Rolls. They were outstanding. The flavor and freshness of the fish were evident in every bite, and the chef truly is a master at creating a balance of tastes in every roll. The ingredients worked so well together that we downright closed our eyes to enjoy each succulent bite. Just take a look for yourself. (If you're reading this at work, please don't drool on your keyboard.)

Tiradito Apasionado

Nikkei Ceviche

Wagyu P.F. Bao

Ishiyaki Del Mar

Salmon Furai

Salmon Aburi

Maguro Foie

Ebi Katsu

Tuna Toro

Toban Yaki

For more information on Paperfish Brickell or to make reservations, visit their website. Enjoy!!