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dimanche 2 décembre 2012


An Evening Out Dining in Miami
We are in the habit of lamenting the disappearing scene of restaurants, we get attached to a particular restaurant, only to find that they have closed. In Miami, many of the fine eateries have closed. What has mushroomed are clever “ethnic” eateries, riding on the popularity of the belief that American food is not worth paying for, plus haute cuisine is considered a realm for the rich palate.
Apart from these Ethnic restaurants mushrooming, the clever chefs are creating Fusion cuisine which sits well with the American palate and sensibilities. Such fusion cuisine are seldom present in France for example.
In the last couple of months, I have had the pleasure of visiting Miami on a few occasions and a summary follows:
Jewish Cuban, modern American   at Books and Books at Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.
LAN, an Asian fusion restaurant in South Miami, headed by a Chinese Filipino Chef.
Both are highly recommended, for a get together with friends or family.
Maroush, the essential Lebanese eatery in Coral Gables is a sure bet if you wish to impress a visitor.
A well established Thai restaurant, Siam palace, in Kendall off Sunset Dr, which has now added a Sushi Bar to its repertoire, is always a good bet.

The pleasure of eating out includes adventure eating and one is always looking for new tastes. Here is where one has to be prepared to face disappointment at the blandness of the food or the lack of innovation: Il Piccolo and Bagel Bar in North Miami serve unimaginative food. There is a Thai Sushi restaurant nearby which has tasty but not exciting food. These are neighbourhood restaurants serving the needs of the local people, I cant imagine driving 20 miles to eat there! Morgans at Wynwood is imaginative and is worth the drive there..
It is always good to eat with people who appreciate food… Once I ate with someone, who said the Fusion food was not as good as the food he had in Hong Kong.. poor gentleman was comparing apples with oranges apart from destroying the ambience of our apetites.

The sad state of dining, or disappointment in dining was evident last night when we drove down to the area of The Falls to taste some Indian food at Ayesha at 14151 South Dixie Highway.  Situated in a strip mall, near a bustling artery of traffic, would cater to the large number of people who now make this area home. In Miami, with its large Latin population, the ethnic foods have a different meaning: Cuban food is not considered Ethnic, neither is Colombian or Peruvian or Brasilian or Jamaican, but they mainly cater for the nationality of origin..
Thai Food has cornered the Ethnic Food market and Miami with its lack of South Asian Immigrants always lagged behind other large cities for Indian food, which would be considered truly Ethnic Food here.
I was sharing the table with my sister and her husband and our last Indian meal was at the wonderfully tasty Kazaan, near the Heathrow Airport in London. I suppose we are spoiled by the fact that “Indian” food which has trained our palates are all of Bangladeshi origin, since more than 90 per cent of the Indian restaurants in England are owned and operated by Bangladeshis. And the cooking has a distinct Mogul ancestry such as a Lamb Karahi and usually not a Vindaloo, which is anglo indian modification  for  a goan dish, Carne de Vinha d’Alho.
As befitting of the Portugese, they meat was Pork, something not suitable for an Indian Resto.
The Restaurant, Ayesha, is way overpriced, most of the dishes around 20 usd, far more expensive than London itself. The appetizers were frozen and the vegetables were not fresh, the Naan and the Roti were not up to par. We had one Chicken Tandoori and two vegetable dish with one Naan and one Roti with no drinks and the bill was 75 usd, ie 50 English Pounds.
By looking at the menu it was evident that there is hardly any Mogul influences in the menu and the dishes were bland, much the same quality as the food one gets at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, just more expensive. The wait staff were pleasant and seemed to be recent migrants to this Latin Metropolis.
There would be no rush to go back there, even if someone else is paying. I want to try Mint Leaf which had a menus similar to London.
This phenomenon of hiding behind Ethnic food is blossoming everywhere, the best example of which are the Chinese owned and run, Restaurante Japonaise, ubiquitous in Paris. I avoid places which have the word Sushi tagged on to them, unless they are in Japan. As more and more Indians and chinese begin to invest in the west, be prepared to see these second rate restaurants springing everywhere..
If you have a palate for Cuban food, you have come to the right place. The day before I leave for La Habana and the day after I arrive, I usually visit one of my favourite Cuban Restaurants and just yesterday had a lovely Cuban breakfast, Pan con Tortilla at Sergios in  Coral Way.
And no coffee in the USA, neither Starbucks or Seattle coffee company or any other imitations, can hold a candle to a well made Cuban cortadito..
To me, Miami would always be associated with my begging the lady behind the walk up coffee stalls in Miami: Cortadito por favour, estilo la Habana, bien caliente! Gracias..

As I come out of the immigration and customs at KLIA I plan to go up to the second floor to the food court to the corner of the Tamouls.. and look forward to my Roti canai and Teh Tahrek.. about one dollar for both..and tastier than any of the dishes at Ayesha “Indian” Restaurant in Pine Crest in Miami..