Ghee Indian Kitchen In Miami

Indian cuisine is one of my favorites, so when my mother told me about Ghee Indian Kitchen, we could not wait to pay a visit. I had to break my “lunch rule” and go for dinner as they open at 5 pm except for Sundays when they open for Brunch at noon.

The restaurant is beautiful and very modern, a sprinkling of Indian artifacts reminds you of the type of food they serve. One wall was lined with a shelve replete with bottles containing anything from ghee to tomato sauce to lentils, a splendid idea that I wish I could use at home. The venue is also the perfect size, not massive, but not too tiny either. There is also outdoor seating, but the day was too muggy to sit outside.

We started our culinary adventure with Garlic Naan. It was delicious with a pronounced taste of garlic and a little sprinkling of chives.

Garlic Naan

The Chicken Tikka Masala was also excellent; prepared with heirloom tomatoes and roasted peppers, it was tasty in the extreme and very generous with the sauce. We only wished that it had some more chicken.

Chicken Tikka Masala

As usual, I always have something very specific to order when I go to a new restaurant, and this time it was the Lamb Shank Biryani. This was a real work of art, both to behold and to savor. Slices of perfectly seasoned lamb were sandwiched in a golden tower of rice and topped with brilliantly red pomegranate seeds, chopped pistachios, and currants. It was a masterpiece. This dish was served with the best raita ( a yogurt and cucumber condiment) that I have ever had, which had some little balls floating in it that added tons of texture. I forgot to ask what they were.

Lamb Shank Biryani with Raita

For dessert, we had the Chocolate Chai Cake, topped with whipped shrikand (sweet strained yogurt), cherries, pumpkin seed brittle. In my book, chocolate + chai = magic, and this piece of cake, dripping with cherries, did not disappoint.

Chocolate Chai Cake – Photo by Ghee Indian Kitchen

Chef Niven Patel is the driving force behind the collection of delicious food on the menu. He is a true believer in making his guests feel at home by offering traditional Indian dishes made with local ingredients.

Eating at Ghee Indian Kitchen was quite an experience – the food, the service, the ambiance made it an unforgettable place that we will visit again very soon.

Miss G. with one of the chickens, wondering what to order.
Miss G.

Great wine selection
A feast for all the senses

GHEE INDIAN KITCHEN

8965 SW 72ND PL

Miami, FL 33156

305-968-1850

http://gheemiami.com/

Shokudo By World Resources Café in Miami

I had a mad desire to taste and take a pretty picture of a bowl of ramen in Miami. I have not been to Shokudo in over three years and saw that they had Shiroshoyu Ramen on the menu, so the decision to re-visit this restaurant was inevitable.

We had to have some appetizers first, so we started with some glorious dumplings, always satisfying with an implicit guarantee of deliciousness.

The Pork and Shrimp Sui Mai were plump and chunky, exploding with flavor and personality, appetizing and so good-looking.

Pork and Shrimp Sui Mai

Then we had Momos, curried potato momos to be exact. I never had momos before, and the only ones on the menu were vegetarian. Looking at YouTube videos made me curious to taste them, and these dumplings were so superb. Another dumpling to add to the collection of favorites. They were floating in an orange sauce that was mouthwatering, but my bad, I don’t know what the sauce was and forgot to ask.

Curry Potato Momo

The little one had to order Calamari, one of her usual favorites. It was good, and the Sriracha Rémoulade sauce was an excellent accompaniment for the otherwise commonplace fried calamari. I liked the presentation, the calamari cuddling in large strips of newspapers. Genius!

Calamari, with Sriracha Rémoulade

The Sugarcane Chicken was a new item on the menu. These little sticks of well-seasoned minced chicken were very enticing. Nice addition to the selection of dishes offered; loved the micro-greens nested in the center of the plate.

Sugarcane Chicken

The Orange Chicken was very orange indeed. The chicken was sitting in a swirl of thin strips of carrots. It was slightly glazed with a not-too-sweet orange sauce and drizzled with black and white sesame seeds. A large chili pepper sat atop, waiting for the fearless eater to sink their teeth into it.

Orange Chicken

The ramen, the Shiroshoyu Ramen to be precise, was what I was really here for. It was a wondrous bowl of ramen, such a dream to behold. The chashu pork, bamboo shoots, hard-boiled egg, burdock, “nori” seaweed,  and fish cake were floating in a konbu broth, perfectly presented with a mass of thinly sliced scallions. The ramen was shyly peeking thru the broth, barely visible, almost flirting with the anticipation of being eaten.

I was not disappointed with the flavors and textures of this generous bowl of goodness. I must say that I have never had authentic ramen before – only the ones from the package – so I  do not have a benchmark to compare this dish to.

Shiroshoyu Ramen

I did not taste the Crab Fried Rice, but Miss G. said that is was very flavorsome.

Crab Fried Rice

The dessert had to be no other than the Thai Donuts; this one served with condensed milk topped with crushed peanuts. These little darling donuts were so cute – tiny balls of dough covered in sugar, perfect for popping in the mouth in one go.

Thai Donuts

Shokudo is an Asian Bistro Restaurant that specializes in offering  “a broad range of comfort food favorites from across the Orient.” It is a relaxed and comfortable restaurant with a full bar and cozy atmosphere.

Outdoor seating
No pics for me today mommy!

Chef Armando Litiatco

Shokudo By World Resources Café

4740 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137

(305) 758-7782

http://www.shokudomiami.com

Lunch At ZEST Restaurant by Chef Cindy Hutson In Downtown Miami

My brother sent me a link about a major new Caribbean restaurant opening in Miami, and he encouraged  me to visit Zest about a year ago. I can’t believe that it took me so long to actually step into this tropical food paradise. An eclectic fusion of global cuisine, focusing on island flavors, is what awaits any hungry eater who crosses their threshold.

This time, my dining companion was Miss E. She had been here before – I was a Zest virgin.

The  Cast Iron Charred Calamari was our first choice – grilled lemon, blistered shishito peppers and preserved orange glaze. I cannot express in words what this dish did to me. It affected all my senses: my taste buds were tingling, eyes were fascinated by the green shishito peppers and the brilliant orange glaze, the nose was dancing, and my soul was riveted with gladness. I have never tasted calamari like this before, never-ever. It’s ridiculous – I am crying with happiness as I write this.

I think that what got me was the texture of the calamari. It was chewy in the right way, almost “conkish,” tender and slippery – slipping and sliding down my throat in a joyride towards my stomach. The orange flavor is something that I  would use at home, except that this version was on over-the-top- flavor-steroids. This dish alone was worth the trip.

Cast Iron Charred Calamari

West Indian Curry Crab Cake was one of the specials, and it was very special indeed. I have never had curry in a crab cake before – the cake itself was chunky, enveloped in the smell of curry, infused with the flavors of the Caribbean. I am a curry-head, anything with curry is always a winner in my book.  It was Miss E.’s favorite dish – “my fav, solid meat, no fillers, yummy.”

West Indian Curry Crab Cake
Miss E. focusing on the crab cake

The Pan Seared Local Snapper was served with escarole, and butter beans. It was also another special. I would never think of pairing snapper with butter beans, but it was a fantastic combination. I don’t know what exactly was in the sauce that was swirling all around the plate, it was on the sweetish side, which I enjoyed.

The Pan Seared Local Snapper

The dessert was epic –  Orange Chocolate Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce. They make different cheesecake flavors every day, and this one was insanely delicious.

Orange Chocolate Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

I was also fortunate enough to catch a waiter who was on the way to another table.  He said to me: “you want a picture? Take it quickly; I have to serve these dishes right away.”  I took the photos on the fly and was surprised that they were in focus.  One of the dishes was the Baby Berg B.L.T. Salad – baby iceberg with house made lardons, radishes, blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, 7-minute egg and pink peppercorn ranch dressing, and this one had shrimp in it. I caught another dish but was not sure what it was. It did look like something I would devour in minutes though.

Baby Berg B.L.T. Salad
Beautiful Dish, don’t know what it was…

Zest Restaurant also has a full bar that offers an extensive selection of wines and cocktails. There is live music too; you can check the website for days and hours.

I did not get the pleasure of meeting Chef Cindy Hutson when I visited. Her passion for cooking is reflected in the dishes she composes. She has been sharing her signature island flavors with us for a long time in Miami and has propelled the concept of “savoring the good life” with a dedication that is almost explosive. In her own words  “I thrive on teaching about our earth’s bounties, edible history and utilizing indigenous ingredients that are regionally prepared.” Chef Hutson has also written a cookbook that is on my bucket list to buy.

Chef Cindy Hutson – Photo by Zest

And here is another picture of The  Cast Iron Charred Calamari:  just because it was so extraordinarily magnificent and I cannot get the flavor and texture out of my mind. I almost ordered one to go, but I had a long drive and was not sure how it would travel. If I were a song writer, I would compose a song, even a poem,  about charred calamari swimming in orange glaze. It would be a hit for sure.

I love you – Cast Iron Charred Calamari
Great place for a business lunch
Also a great chill-out spot

ZEST Restaurant by Chef Cindy Hutson

Southeast Financial Center

200 South Biscayne Boulevard

Miami, FL 33131

305-374-9378

https://zestmiami.com/

Brunch At Essensia Restaurant & Lounge At The Palms Hotel In Miami Beach

I was longing to go back to Essensia as I had not been there in a while. When I heard that Chef Julie Frans was again responsible for menu creation, that was all the excuse I needed to revisit this restaurant that specializes in multicultural Miami Cuisine using local and sustainable ingredients. Working alongside Executive Chef Richard Earle, the dishes that emerge from the kitchen are just magical.

Chef Frans just launched a new Spring menu, and I was eager to try some of the items offered for Brunch. This time my dining companion was Miss G., who was back in town.

We started with the French Toast Bread Pudding  –  Croissant French toast squares, maple syrup, and strawberries. The pudding itself was sweet and moist, with a homemade taste reminiscent of the one my Mom makes. Pure comfort food.

French Toast Bread Pudding

The Whole Grain & Coconut Waffle brought back memories of home, and by home I mean Grenada, where I was born. One bite and I was back in my Auntie’s house; it was the coconut waffle that triggered the fond food recollections. The waffles were topped with Greek Yogurt, fresh strawberries, basil, and lavender honey.

Whole Grain & Coconut Waffle

My all-time favorite was the Burrata & Fried Green Tomatoes – Heirloom cherry tomatoes, arugula, basil oil, and aged balsamic. We added shrimp to this dish, which was a brilliant move. The co-mingling of the flavors was phenomenal – one shrimp, a piece of burrata, and some arugula was the perfect one-biter. It had been ages since I had balsamic vinegar, and this one was especially pleasing.

Burrata & Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp

Next, we had the Grilled Island Fish Sandwich –  Grilled pineapple, chayote and jicama slaw, and green harissa sauce. Including pineapple in the mix was a very Caribbean move, and it was delightful.

Grilled Island Fish Sandwich
The Ceviche that I forgot to order. Photo by Essensia
Smoothies & Juices – Photo by Essensia
Chef Julie Frans – photo by Essensia

In Chef Frans own words, the Spring menu “follows a very Miami Vibe with lots of Caribbean and Latin influences, but always with a fresh, healthy, veg-forward focus with lots of plant-based options and the majority of items on the menu are Gluten free. The backyard garden and local sourcing helps to make the farm-to-table happen… possible even at a hotel on the beach! “

Outdoor seating is best

Miss G. is into taking photos too!
I can sit in the lounge all day

The menu follows a farm-to-table philosophy and offers a selection of fresh ingredients primarily sourced from within the State of Florida. Essensia also has an extensive wine list, signature cocktails and healthy juices and smoothies made with all-natural ingredients. The restaurant is located inside The Palms Hotel & Spa, so a walk after brunch was essential.

We visited the resident parrots, Sunshine and Chance, who have been living in the hotel since forever. Then we took a peek at the pool and the happy sunbathers, and being so close to the beach, we had to take a stroll on the boardwalk. I love this little paradise in Miami Beach and look forward to the next visit with delicious anticipation.

Chance
Sunshine
Pretty flowers in the garden

Scenes at the pool

The Beach from the Boardwalk


Essensia Restaurant & Lounge

3025 Collins Avenue,

Miami Beach, FL 33140

305.908.5458

www.essensiarestaurant.com.

*Cover photo by Essensia*