Tag Archives: Asian cuisine

Limited-Time Menu & Prizes at Tin Drum Asiacafé

Flavorful Asian street food-inspired dishes served up fast. Tin Drum Asiacafé does it so well, and the AG is a big fan.

Two of the reasons — the new Smokin’ Korean BBQ Steak Bowls that offer a Tin Drum twist on Korean cuisine. Try them soon, as the bowls will be on the menu only until Sunday, October 19th.

Tin Drum Seoul Steak BowlThe Seoul Steak Bowl is Korean barbecue steak with soba noodles, red pepper and daikon salad, bean sprouts and fresh spinach sprinkled with sesame seeds.

For the Kickin’ Kimchi Steak Bowl, Korean barbecue steak is served with steamed rice and Tin Drum Tin Drum Kickin’ Kimchi Steak Bowlkimchi, topped with a fried egg and a dash of seaweed.

Enjoy the steak bowls with the new sweet ginger peach tea, a refreshing mix of Southern and Asian flavors. On Wednesdays order a steak bowl and tea (or a fountain drink) together for $6.

Generous portions on all bowls, noodles, curries mean you won’t leave hungry. Check out more AG recommendations below.

Get social with Tin Drum during the Smokin’ BBQ promotion for a chance to win! One lucky customer will win a large Big Green Egg Grill and Deluxe Grill Kit, and one local business (per Tin Drum location) will win a catered lunch for up to 20 people. To enter either sweepstakes and check out daily giveaways visit Tin Drum’s Facebook page.

Tin Drum Asiacafé has twelve locations in the Atlanta metro area, including its newest location on Briarcliff Road in North Druid Hills. The restaurant specializes in affordable and authentic Asian street food cooked fresh to order in an open kitchen.

For more information, menus and locations visit tindrumcafe.com.

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Miami's Best Brunches

You can’t beat brunch.  A great brunch is the most sumptuous meal of the week and it’s the best excuse to have all of your favorite foods at one time.

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, just think how important brunch must be!

Looking to plan your Sunday brunch?  Here are my favorite spots in Miami:

Acqua at Four Seasons Miami
An elegant setting to enjoy brunch favorites with a Mediterranean flair.  With extensive cheese, carving, Asian food stations and more, there’s truly something for any taste.  If you’re not in the mood for a Mimosa or Bloody Mary get a mojito — all are unlimited.  Request a table by the window for nice views of Brickell and the bay.
$70 per person.  Located in the Four Seasons Miami, 1435 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 381-3190

Area 31
Chef John Critchley’s brunch is a gourmet buffet featuring caviar, paté, cold cuts and cooked dishes like roast chicken breast and steak frites.  While sipping on unlimited Mimosas or Bellinis you can enjoy live music.
$50 per person.  Located in the EPIC Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami.  (305) 424-5234

Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, Balans has it all.  You can’t go wrong with one of the four kinds of eggs benedict or the enormous breakfast burrito, though you may be tempted by the lobster club wrap or the chili beef salad.  The à la carte menu ranges from around $8 to $15.  To get your day started there’s a full menu of cocktails for $11 each.  Just be sure to arrive early otherwise you could have a long wait (especially at the Miami Beach location).
Both Saturday & Sunday.  Two locations: 901 South Miami Avenue, Brickell and 1022 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 534-9191

Biltmore Hotel
It doesn’t get any more lavish than Sunday Champagne brunch at the Biltmore Hotel.  The array of selections include carving, omelet, sushi and tapas stations, plus a wall of desserts.
$75 per person.  Located in Fontana Restaurant at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables.  (305) 913-3202

Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove
The Ritz-Carlton always gets brunch right.  Here you’ll enjoy all the traditional favorites plus made-to-order sushi and sashimi and grilled-to-order fresh fish — all in a gorgeous setting that includes a cascading waterfall.  And of course, you’ll be able to take in the view with free-flowing Champagne.
$52 per person, $25 for kids 4 to 12 years old.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove, 3300 Southwest 27th Avenue, Coconut Grove.  (305) 644-4680

Cioppino at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
A buffet so big you’ll be full just looking at it.  Go easy on the pasta, salads and grilled meats so you can save room for caviar (three different types), raw oysters and sushi.  Of course there are unlimited Bloody Marys and Champagne cocktails (Mimosas, Bellinis and a few more), and an entire room just for dessert.
$72 for adults, $36 for children under 12.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, 455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne.  (305) 365-4286

The à la carte menu features a variety of frittatas and egg dishes that start at $12.  Or try the buttermilk pancakes that are topped with caramelized apples and spiced candied walnuts.  Plus you get to enjoy complimentary Mimosas or Bloody Marys with your meal.  Bonus: brunch gets you free entrance to Club 50’s Sunday Refresher party where you can groove to a live DJ and enjoy light bites until 5pm (it’s normally $30).
Located in the Viceroy Hotel, 485 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 503-0373

Rusty Pelican
Go for the great view of downtown and Brickell, stay for the enormous fresh seafood spread.  If you’re not in the mood for peel and eat shrimp, raw oysters or steamed crab, there’s always the assortment of cold salads and ham or beef at the carving station.  Enjoy the view with unlimited Champagne, Mimosas or orange juice.
$33.95 per person, $13.95 for kids 5 to 10 years old, under 5 free.  3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne.  (305) 361-3818

The Setai
Craving Asian cuisine?  Check out Sunday brunch at the Setai.  In addition to eggs, pancakes and traditional brunch breads, there’s a wide assortment of Indian, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian dishes.
$67 per person, $34 for kids 5 to 12 years old.  2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.  (305) 520-6400

Escape the craziness of South Beach at this cozy brunch.  The buffet is set up on the restaurant’s garden patio and features a carving station, pasta, fresh local fish, breakfast favorites like waffles and pancakes and an elaborate display of homemade desserts.
$29 per person which includes juice and coffee.  210 23rd Street, Miami Beach.  (305) 672-0778

Tre Italian Bistro
A great value and a convenient spot for people who live in downtown.  A la carte items are $12 and come with a complimentary Mimosa, Bloody Mary, sangria, orange juice or cappuccino (each additional drink is $3).
270 East Flagler Street, Downtown Miami.  (305) 373-3303

Tropical Chinese Restaurant
It’s a bit of a drive from downtown and Miami Beach but it’s the best dim sum in the area.  A word of advice: don’t get too much off of the baked and fried items cart so you can load up on delicious steamed dumplings.  Dishes range between $3 and $7 so your bill can be as small or as big as your appetite.
Both Saturday & Sunday.  7991 Southwest 40th Street, Miami.  (305) 262-7576

8 oz Burger Bar
I could eat 8 oz’s juicy burgers any time of the day (my favorite is the Niman Ranch lamb), but they’re even better with Bloody Marys that you can customize at the Bloody Mary bar.  Unlimited Bloody Marys cost $20.
1080 Alton Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 397-8246

Have a favorite brunch spot that’s not on the list?  Send an email to tips@amateurgastronomer.com.

Dining at the Fontainebleau: Blade Sushi Bar

This article is part of a series on dining and nightlife at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

If you prefer Asian fare, there are a couple of dining options at the Fontainebleau.

blade sushi barBlade Sushi Bar is located on the ground floor of the Chateau.  You can access it from the pool area (where there’s also outdoor seating), or by walking down a staircase near the entrance to LIV.  The dimly lit lounge is a great spot to cozy up to a date or have drinks and a bite to eat with friends before heading to the nightclub.

Besides the seating at the bar and sushi bar, the tables are low to the ground (about knee-level when you’re sitting down), which can make eating sushi difficult.  You’ll have to do a lot of leaning over the table so you don’t drip soy sauce on your lap.

If you’re looking for a nice glass of sake, prepare to spend a lot.  The sake list is pretty limited and a single glass costs between $20 and $30.  I’d recommend sticking to standard cocktails.

Blade’s menu features upscale Japanese fare and sushi that’s caught daily.  It’s fairly more expensive than most sushi restaurants in Miami Beach so you may not want to go there on an empty stomach.

Whatever you do, stay away from the seared toro sashimi.  I ordered this and couldn’t eat more than a couple of bites.  I don’t know if the chef sliced the fish wrong or if it wasn’t actually toro, but I bit into the fish and it felt like I was biting into gristle.  I didn’t know it was possible for fish to have this kind of texture.  It was so unpleasant that it made me nauseated and I couldn’t eat any more of the dish.  Toro, the fatty part of the tuna, has a great texture that melts in your mouth if it’s fresh and of high quality.  If this dish can’t be prepared properly it shouldn’t be on the menu.

blade sushi barBlade does get bonus points for its cool menus, which automatically light up when you open them so you can actually read them in the dark.  It seems like a no-brainer idea that more dimly lit restaurants should use.

For upscale Chinese fare, Hakkasan will be opening in mid to late February.  It’s the U.S. debut of Alan Yau’s London restaurant and Britain’s only Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant.  I’m really looking forward to Hakkasan and have high hopes for the restaurant.  I had a delicious meal at Yau’s other restaurant in London, Yauatcha.  I highly recommend it if you’re visiting there.

For more information on Blade Sushi Bar click here.

For more information on Hakkasan click here.

Bali Cafe: Exotic Eats in Downtown Miami

Walking around downtown Miami is like taking a culinary trip around the world. You can try dishes from Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, India, Japan, the Philippines and more.

I’ve been longing for a return visit to Bali since I went there for my honeymoon and I found it at Bali Café. For such a small restaurant, it creates full-flavored, delicious food. The friendly service and sounds of traditional music will transport you to the enchanting island half a world away.

Indonesian food is an intoxicating mix of spices and sauces. Chili, cardamom, turmeric and coconut milk combine for complex and aromatic dishes.

If you like curry, you’ll want to try Opor Ayam, chicken stewed in yellow spices and coconut milk. The chicken is so tender it falls right off the bone and the sauce is so flavorful you’ll wish you had more.

Fans of fish will have a tough time deciding between Ikan Pesmol (fish stewed in a variety of aromatic Indonesian spices) and Ikan Goreng Balado (pan fried grouper in a mild chili sauce).

There are several beef dishes, from Rendang Sapi (beef slowly cooked in coconut milk and mild spices), to Soto Betawi (beef soup seasoned with ginger, sweet soy sauce and lemon). Can’t decide between beef or chicken? Several dishes offer both.

One dish not to miss if you like noodles is the delicious and filling Bihun Ayam Jakarta. Chicken, mushrooms, spinach and quail eggs are piled high on a bed of rice noodles served with beef broth.

Some of the main plates come with a choice of miso soup or salad. Go for the salad – the house orange sesame dressing is tasty and refreshing.

Like many Asian restaurants in Miami, Bali Café also serves a variety of sushi and rolls.

If you’re feeling adventurous (and you have room for dessert), try the unique durian fruit served with vanilla ice cream.

Bali Café is located at 109 NE 2nd Avenue (between NE 1st and 2nd Streets) in downtown Miami. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday (though may soon expand weekend hours to include dinner). Only cash is accepted.

We Want Wagamama!

Dear Wagamama: please bring more restaurants to the United States!

Since discovering this restaurant chain during a semester abroad in London I have been craving their delicious noodle dishes and patiently waiting for them to come to the U.S.

Wagamama is an Asian-inspired noodle bar with dishes that include dumplings, ramen noodle soup and stir-fried udon noodles. The first restaurant opened in London in 1992 with the idea “to combine great, fresh and nutritious food in an sleek yet simple setting with helpful, friendly service and value for money.” While I was living in London, Wagamama quickly became my favorite place for a meal with friends, family visiting from the U.S., or even on my own.

Wagamama restaurants feature sleek and modern dining spaces that resemble high school cafeterias. Long wooden tables with benches fill the room, leaving little to no space between separate groups. Most of the restaurants are located below the street level entrance so there are no windows. The open kitchen shows a flurry of cooks stir-frying vegetables and stirring soup broth. There are no paper pads here – servers write down your order on wireless handheld devices that send it directly to the kitchen. The dishes come out quickly and as soon as they’re ready, so one person may get theirs before the rest of the group. If you’re thirsty, there is a variety of freshly squeezed juices to choose from. Everything on the menu is reasonably priced.

Currently there are more than 60 Wagamamas around the UK. There are many locations around the world including in Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and the UAE. I always thought if Wagamama could travel to these far away places, why not to the United States? Wagamama’s recipe for good food served quickly surely would translate to success here. I know I’d certainly keep one near me in business!

The good news is Wagamama has finally arrived here! The first two restaurants opened in the Boston/Cambridge area in the spring and summer of 2007. I recently checked out the Harvard Square location and found the great dining experience wasn’t lost in the trip across the pond.

I started with the duck gyoza. The deep fried duck and leek dumplings are served with a spicy hoisin sauce. They’re crunchy and not too oily, with plenty of tender meat inside. For my main course, I ordered the dish I always ordered in London: yaki udon. Udon noodles are cooked on a hot, flat griddle with curry oil, along with chicken, egg, shrimp, bean sprouts, red and green peppers and shitake mushrooms. It’s garnished with spicy ground fish powder and pickled ginger. Each bite is a different combination of flavors: the spice of the curry oil, the saltiness of the shrimp, the woodsy taste of the mushrooms. It’s a huge portion that somehow, I’m always able to finish.

Wagamama is located at 57 JFK Street in Cambridge and in the Quincy Market building in Boston. Hopefully other U.S. locations will be coming soon!