September 4, 2015

Florida Life - Dining

New global restaurant brands make their way into Florida

| 1/2/2014

Florida is already active in the culinary foreign exchange: Outback is in 20 countries, Tony Roma’s is in 30, Melting Pot plans to open in a half-dozen countries from the Middle East to Indonesia.

There’s a new trend, however. A new class of global culinary labels — “chains” may be too crass a label — is moving into Florida, most particularly to Miami. The first imported chain may have been BICE of Milan, which now has five Florida locations and outposts in South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

This newer group of restaurants is decidedly upper crust, with youthful accents of Asian spice and craft cocktails. The design is eye-popping glam. Menus are luxurious, with old school Dover sole and new-era Kobe beef, served in small-plate tapas and sushi or big sharing portions. Service is meticulous, yet the formats are informal, from bar snacks to breakfast and brunch. Those who need to ask the price may want to dine elsewhere.

Most started in Europe and spread to the modern circuit of the super rich, Dubai to Moscow and Hong Kong. In the U.S., Miami has become a mandatory stop, often the first and only U.S. location.


Beverly Hills, Miami, New York, San Francisco; Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, London, Mumbai

The spirit is elegant Chinese, but it didn’t become Hakkasan until chef Tong Chee Hwee came to London in 2001 and won a Michelin star. His first serving in America was in the Fontainebleau. The extravagance is evident in appetizers of tea-smoked short ribs and braised Japanese abalone. Main courses are just as uptown: Silver cod is dressed with champagne and Chinese honey. The beef in the stir fry is Wagyu.

Hakkasan steamed windmill prawn dumplings


Miami; Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London

The idea — combining high-class sushi bar and stylish grazing and watering hole — started in London with a German-born chef who spent years in Tokyo and Sydney and wanted to outdo London’s Nobu.

Zuma opened its only U.S. location in 2010 in a dramatic intimate space in the Miami’s Kimpton Epic. A network of lively rooms, framed with rice paper, feature bamboo walls, earthy granite and views of the Miami River (with yacht dockage). The menu ranges from bites as small as black cod gyoza and grilled baby artichokes to cedarroasted chicken. Steak and lobster are trimmed japonaise with sesame wafu sauce and shiso-ponzu butter.

Zuma’s bar stocks a long list of sakes, including an exclusive bottle made in house and stronger spirit shochu.

Tags: Dining & Travel

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