Phuc Yea One Last Phucing Time!

December 9, 2011

So the Pop Up restaurant that sprouted in Downtown Miami on September 8 is finally dwindling to its grand finale. Phuc Yea (pronounced as fook-yay, but who are we kidding?) was a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant that would take over the Crown Bistro at night and had no qualms with crossing the line or trying adventurous new things. From offering free entrees if you complete their cinnamon challenge successfully (ingesting an entire tablespoon of cinnamon in one shot) to serving up jellyfish salad, porchetta di testa (salted pig face) and even periwinkles (snails), these guys never held back. Some of this stuff was right up Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern's alley and definitely not up mine.

I was lucky enough to check out Phuc Yea's phucing menu a total of 3 times. They changed their menu almost weekly; keeping it funkdified phresh with constant hip-hop jams such as ODB, Jay-Z and even WuTang blasting in the sound system.

On my final visit I started out my meal with their Salt 'n Peppa Soft Shell Crab. Truth be told, I had never had soft shell crab so what I got was no where near what I expected. The menu states it comes with spicy aioli, coconut, beer and herbage, all the things I like so what could be so bad? What I got looked like something straight out of a Goosebumps book and all I could say to myself was, "What the fuck did I get myself into?!" The crab was perfectly preserved and fried in its entirety. Naturally, I poked at it with my chopsticks for a few seconds expecting it to jump up and run off my plate. Finally, I decided to close my eyes and dig in, what I got was a totally pleasant surprise. The crab meat was tender, fresh and even though it had been fried it didn't taste greasy at all. The spicy aioli gave the crab an awesome little kick and extra creaminess. The best part was to grab a little bit of everything in one harmonious bite, crispy coconut, aioli and crab. When I was done I felt both proud and satisfied, like I had just completed a tasty challenge on FearFactor.

Up next I decided to scale back and go with something less exciting but just as delicious, their Short Rib Bao Buns. These little guys are so cute and miniature that you almost don't want to eat them, but phuc it. Them thangs are good! The fluffy Bao bun comes filled with short rib, hoisin, fresh jalape├▒o and herbage. This Polly pocket sized sandwich packs a spicy punch. The short rib is well seasoned and the bun feels like your biting into a handheld cloud. An awesome little treat, definite not enough to share (especially if you're me).

Lastly, I had their dessert. A phenomenal mix of condensed milk ice cream, pound cake and sesame seeds. Although this dessert seems simple on paper, it's was phucing wonderful. The nutty and slightly saltiness of the sesame seeds mixed in with the rich condensed milk ice cream dance on your taste buds.

By the end of the night, we had eaten well and drank extremely well. We ended the night with hugs and kisses, but mainly lots of well wishes and luck for Daniel Treiman, Cesar Zapata and Ani├Ęce Meinhold and all of their future endeavors. Here's to adventurous new eats wherever they go. This place closes tomorrow night, December 10, 2011 so get y'all phucin asses over there and check it out before its gone forever!

Restaurant Details:
Phuc Yea (CLOSES ON 12/10/11)
19 SE 2 ave.
Miami, FL 33131

Phuc Yea! on Urbanspoon

Tapas Style Brunch at Sugarcane

November 10, 2011

The first time I wrote about Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, I wrote about their happy hour. This time around I’m going to write about their brunch. A couple of girlfriends and myself headed over on a Sunday afternoon eager to try their tapas style line up. Unlike the hustle and bustle this restaurant has on any given night, the Sunday morning flow is nice and easy coinciding with what a lazy Sunday should be. This restaurant has a completely different vibe during brunch, everything feels laid back and in slow motion. On the other hand, I might’ve still been drunk from the night before, which would explain the slow motion effects. Either way, I liked it.

We started off brunch with alcohol, naturally. One of my friends went with the Passion Fruit Bubbles, I had my ever faithful Blackberry Toast and my other friend had their Hibiscus Blossom. The Passion Fruit Bubbles is a wonderful combination of passion fruit juice, strawberries and plum sake. It’s a great, girly and tropical start to any lazy weekend. The flavors in this drink play on your tongue like kids playing hopscotch. My drink, the Blackberry Toast, is a more hearty drink. There’s nothing like starting your day with a little bourbon if you ask me. This is my favorite cocktail at Sugarcane, it’s Jim Beam Bourbon, muddled blackberries, their “secret syrup” and thyme. The last drink of the bunch is a bit more flowery, literally; the Hibiscus Blossom is made from hibiscus infused cachaca, citrus essence and mint. One thing I can say is Sugarcane’s bar is one of the most inventive I’ve seen in a while. Their bar has no qualms with going out on a limb and trying radical new things. Which is one of the reasons why I enjoy this place so much.

When it came to the food, we started out with their sweet bread basket. The breads featured in their bread basket change daily and in our basket was zucchini, banana breads and a raspberry/blueberry muffin. The jams and butters that came along with our bread basket were pumpkin butter, nutella and a fresh made cranberry marmalade. All three of the breads were soft, flavorful and freshly baked. The pumpkin butter, although creative, could have used slightly more pumpkin flavor and seasoning. The nutella was, well it was nutella. It was great but nothing really unique about serving nutella. The cranberry marmalade was by far my favorite with a playful combination of both tart and sweet flavors which went perfectly with the blueberry/raspberry muffin.

Up next we had their Goat Cheese Croquettes, which are also available on their regular menu. This is one of my ‘old reliable’ dishes at Sugarcane. The sharp taste of the goat cheese is paired well with a sweet membrillo marmalade. The texture of the soft and warm goat cheese is contrasted nicely by the crispy outside of these piping hot croquettes.

We then moved into heavier dishes with the Duck and Waffles. This is Sugarcane’s take on fried chicken and waffles. I personally really liked this. The waffles are piled high with fried, bone-in duck meat and a fried duck egg over the top. There is also a side of mustard maple syrup served along with this dish that compliments it in a flavorful yet subtle way. This definitely isn’t your typical southern chicken and waffles. The seasoning on the duck is slightly more spicy and it went well with the mustard infused maple syrup. The waffles were soft and warm and did a good job of soaking up the maple syrup and runny yolk from the fried duck egg. My girlfriends and I were all impressed with this dish and the interesting twist Sugarcane brought to this southern staple.

After that hearty plate, we moved on to their house made chorizo. This bad boy came out served whole in all of its phallic glory saying, “Hello ladies, don’t be shy and put me in your mouth.” Of course, leave it to me to be the first one to dig in. The flavors were very reminiscent to a Colombian chorizo. The chorizo was completely different to any typical American sausage that most people are accustomed to and nothing like your McDonalds sausage patty. Both of my girlfriends and I are at least part Colombian and we really enjoyed it. The flavor was slightly subtle at first but picked up heat and intensity as you chewed. By the time we were done eating it we were left wanting so much more than what we got, much like how some girls feel about the chorizo's phallic look alike.

We then moved onto the Truffled Toad in the Hole. For this dish, Sugarcane used a thick slice of fresh brioche with an organic egg cooked right in the middle then topped with fresh melted Robiola cheese and black truffle. There are very few things (and even people) that I like more than brioche and melted cheese. Again, Sugarcane knocked it out of the park with this innovative twist on an old school dish. The best part of this dish was when you were lucky enough to get a little bit of everything in one bite. The only criticism I do have about this dish is that I felt the egg was a little undercooked for my personal preference. None the less, the flavor of the robiola cheese and the earthy almost nutty flavor of the truffle went perfectly together. This was probably my favorite dish of the day.

Lastly we had waffles yet again. We didn’t really plan this well and had a total waffle overload. We went with their Belgian Waffle with bananas, strawberries and nutella. This dish isn’t very original, but it’s great and well executed either way. If we weren’t so full by the time this dish was served, we would’ve eaten every last bite. The waffles were fresh and warm; the combination of nutella, strawberries and bananas is ALWAYS a winner. Together they worked wonderfully, if only we hadn’t been so full.

Overall, I truly enjoyed my brunch at Sugarcane. I love the inventiveness of the chefs and bartenders. Several of the brunch items are old school favorites with a new school twist. The drinks were refreshing and interesting. The items are fresh and cooked to order. The items are brought out as they’re ready in no particular order. This is one of the few places that I always recommend when someone is looking for a fun and different place to go to, I’m glad to see that they’re brunch offerings are just as good as their dinner/lunch menu. Plus who doesn’t like starting their day with a full bar?!

Restaurant Details:
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
(786) 369-0353
3250 NE 1st Ave
Miami, FL 33137

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill on Urbanspoon

Pubbelly Sushi brings funkdified sushi to SOBE: PART 2

October 26, 2011

As promised, here is the second half of my Pubbelly Sushi review. As mentioned in the last post, when I went to this restaurant we ordered so much food it was almost embarrassing. Since my date and I had such a gluttonous amount of food, I decided to break up the review into two different posts. I’m going to pick up exactly where the last post left off.

After the Wedge Salad, we decided to try their BBQ Short ribs and Pork Belly. The short ribs are served with a nashi pear remoulade and were great. The flavor was fresh and different from any short ribs I’ve had in recent memory. The Pork Belly though, I completely fell in love with. The pork belly is seasoned with orange peels and tobanjan and was cooked perfectly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. The pork belly is skewered for hand held ease. I loved the tiny hint of orange flavor that went along with the saltiness of the pork belly and the tobanjan. After all of this food I was left wondering how I could have a wheelbarrow delivered to the restaurant so I could be carried out to my car.

The next roll we ordered was the Wagyu Beef roll. This roll consists of Wagyu beef tartare, gochujang, mustard, avocado, sesame with a poached egg on the side. This was probably my least favorite dish out of the 200 dishes we had. There was a lot going on flavor-wise and the flavor of the beef is completely lost in my opinion. When you first bite into the roll you taste a slight sweetness from the avocado and then the spiciness from the gochujang and mustard kicks you in the back of the throat like a Jackie Chan sequel. The poached egg that came alongside this roll didn’t seem poached at all and in all honesty seemed completely raw. None the less, this may have been the least favorite out of the milieu of plates we had, it was still better than most of the sushi out in the rest of the community.

If that wasn’t enough food, my date also dug into two New England style rolls. First he had the rockshrimp roll, which is tempura rock shrimp tossed in spicy mayo and served on a homemade toasted bun. He seemed very happy with his roll; he said the bun was perfectly toasted and slightly buttery. Then, he had their spicy tuna roll which is thinly sliced spicy tuna, scallions, and frites on the toasted bun. The tuna was very fresh but according to my date, he did mumble that he would have the rock shrimp roll any day of the week over the tuna roll. I’m guessing these two rolls were very good overall; he didn’t really talk much and just kept nodding his head while he was inhaling them.

We couldn’t leave without having dessert though, even though we were on the verge of having our stomachs burst. The restaurant doesn’t have a printed dessert menu and all of the desserts are written on chalkboard over the bar. We decided to try their Mochi ice cream. You can never go wrong with mochi; Pubbelly Sushi offers three types of mochi, green tea, passion fruit and red kidney bean. Mochi ice cream is a Japanese confection that boils down to a rice paste filled with ice cream. It’s handheld, no mess ice cream. The passion fruit flavor was by far my favorite. Mochi isn’t exactly a unique dessert, but it was good either way.

If one dessert wasn’t enough, we ordered their Green Tea Parfait. This parfait was great and original, from the bottom layer of Mango, to the mascarpone cheese to the green tea cookie crumble over the top; there was no bad bite to be had. The texture was reminiscent to that of a key lime pie, but the flavor was completely refreshing. The green tea crumble over the top was fun and crunchy in contrast to the creamy and soothing texture of the mango and mascarpone. The presentation of this dish was also very neat; it’s served in a cute jar that my date was quick to break. When our waiter asked who broke the jar, I didn’t hesitate in driving that bus straight over him and pointing directly at him. Yea, I threw his ass under the bus and would do it again in a heartbeat.

This place was not only inventive in their presentation of each plate but in their signature twists on each dish. I loved the contrast in flavors and textures. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to this place in a moment’s notice and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and different sushi restaurant. Things to keep in mind is that this place does NOT take reservations and that this place is basically located on Purdy ave (in other words, parking is a raging bitch). I also really liked the graffiti on the walls, the outfits the staff wears and the music this place has playing. Fun place all around.

Restaurant Details:
Pubbelly Sushi
1424 20th st.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Pubbelly Sushi on Urbanspoon

Pubbelly Sushi brings funkdified sushi to SOBE: PART 1

October 24, 2011

I’ve been putting off this post because I’m a lazy bum and a procrastinator. That and when I went to the newly opened Pubbelly Sushi, my date and I ate through pretty much half of their menu. That being said, this post will be broken up into two, part 1 covering the first half of dinner. The restaurant is a sushi inspired spinoff of its next door neighbor, Pubbelly. The same owners of course, but Pubbelly Sushi is a bigger space with lots of character. There’s graffiti on the walls, the specials are all written on the wall behind the bar. All of the chefs wear bandana-like head garments, which makes them look like they’re about to karate chop you like Bruce Lee. There’s even a posted schedule of the kind of music they play, the night I went was alternative music night.

Our waiter was really friendly. He kind of looked like a jersey shore reject, but none the less was really knowledgeable and eager to answer any questions we had. We ordered a couple of beers off their impressive craft beer list and worked our way through the menu. Our waiter did explain that the way the kitchen is set up, plates roll out as they are ready in no particular order. Our poor waiter seemed a bit overwhelmed with all of the food we ordered, but it was nothing our Pauly D wannabe couldn’t handle.

We rattled off a ton of dishes, but the first one I’ll cover is their Tostones de Pana. The dish itself is himachi ceviche tossed in ginger soy, cilantro and crispy breadfruit tostones. The presentation on this was really cute, the ceviche is served in a small jar with a miniature spoon and the tostones are standing up in a small wooden bin. The ceviche alone was really refreshing and flavorful. Throw the ceviche on a hot and slightly salty toston and the flavor explodes. The freshness of the ceviche beams through when contrasted against the saltiness of the toston. My friend was lucky I let him try a piece, I really wasn’t planning on sharing but lucky for him I’m on this “play nice” kick.

Next up we had the Snow Crab roll. The rolls looks like a little sushi burrito, wrapped in goma soy paper, the inside is filled with perfectly warm snowcrab and served with a small container of ponzu clarified butter. Yes, I said butter. You dip that sucker in butter and call it a day. The crab was perfectly seasoned and tasted great; the ponzu butter went very with the flavor of the crab and didn’t taste greasy in any way. My favorite was double dipping this roll in a little bit of their house soy sauce and then in the butter. I wouldn’t really recommend this dish for sharing because it’s relative small and trying to split it in half gets kind of messy. Plus, it’s really good so you’re not going to want to share it anyway.

Up next, we ordered the Yellowtail roll. This roll was insane, the minute they placed it on our table you could smell the truffle oil emanating from the dish. The roll consists of yellowtail fish, snow crab, truffled yuzu, nori flakes and it’s all wrapped in green soy paper. The yellowtail fish was so fresh and the truffled yuzu exploded with flavor in your mouth it gave the roll a great complexity in flavor. In addition, the nori flakes and yuzu gave a variety in texture to the already flavorful roll. I fell in love with this roll in the first bite, I’m a sucker for anything truffled and this did not disappoint.

My date had their wedge salad. I personally wasn’t going to waste my time (or appetite) on a salad when there was so much food to eat, so I didn’t try it. The salad consisted of baby iceberg lettuce, ginger dressing and thinly sliced radishes. Although out of all the dishes that were had, this one seemed like the only one that didn’t have any pop or surprises. In-between bites, he mentioned the salad was very good and the dressing was light and creamy.

My next post will cover the rest of this dinner. We ate like true fatasses and I'm so proud of that. I will however say that this restaurant is a winner in my book. From the great music and fun vibe to unique food. Stay tuned.

Restaurant Details:
Pubbelly Sushi
1424 20th st.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Pubbelly Sushi on Urbanspoon

Buttercream: straight up great cupcakes

October 12, 2011

My best friend and I were on one of our usual fatass Sunday adventures recently when he dragged me to South Miami to introduce me to this tiny cupcake shop on Sunset Drive. Buttercream Cupcakes is located on a miniscule plaza on the more residential side of Sunset Drive. The shop is as small as can be with only room for one small table and a couple of stools on the inside, there are also a couple of outdoor patio tables outside of the store. They’re straight to the point and only offer cupcakes, tea and coffee. These people know what they’re good at and stick to it. The place, although very small, is brightly colored and offers a jovial and fun vibe.

The place is owned by a husband and wife duo who opened up Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee in early 2008. On the lazy Sunday that I went, there were two young and helpful women running the storefront. They were in the process of icing cupcakes and helping other customers. My friend and I got only 3 cupcakes and some coffee. I should mention they offer regular sized cupcakes not these one bite mini’s other places are currently offering. We sat in their only indoor table and dug in, while we ate we noticed a constant, never ending stream of people coming in and buying cupcakes. Just as fast as these girls were putting them on display they were being bought up by eager locals.

My coffee was simple black coffee, nothing extravagant or fancy. Just a good cup of joe. Their cupcakes on the other hand were rich in flavor. The first cupcake we had was their Orange cupcake. It looked simple to the naked eye, but upon close inspection you could see both the butter cream and cake were filled with fresh orange zest. The cake was soft, moist and bursting with flavor. Biting into this cupcake felt like you were standing in the middle of an orange grove in full bloom. The taste of fresh orange exploded in your mouth and is by far the best way to get a dose of Vitamin C that I‘ve ever encountered.

Up next we tried their Vanilla Pumpkin cupcake. The cupcake is a soft vanilla cake and topped with pumpkin flavored butter cream. The taste of authentic and fresh pumpkin really shined through the buttercream along with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The marriage between the vanilla cake and pumpkin cream went together greatly, in a way that makes you feel like autumn on the inside while you sweat your ass off in Miami on the outside.

Our last cupcake was their vanilla Oreo cupcake. My friend is an Oreo fanatic and his bitch ass only let me get one bite of this cupcake. The vanilla cake was the same one used in the Vanilla Pumpkin cupcake and a few other of their cupcake varieties. The cake is soft, moist and was topped with vanilla buttercream that features giant chunks of Oreo cookies. This cake was probably the simplest in flavor that we had, but great none the less. It was a good, old school cookies and cream cupcake like the ones your mom used to make when you were a kid.

There were several other flavors I wanted to try but was too full. I really liked the small accents some of their cupcakes had, such as the small fondant flower on top of the orange cupcake. It gave the cupcake a delicate and special touch. The freshness of the ingredients being used in their cupcakes really beams through in each bite and I have to admit I’m an instant fan of this place. With so many cupcake options in South Florida, this is a small mom and pop shop dishing out great quality that everyone should check out.

Restaurant Details:
Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee
(305) 669-8181
1411 Sunset Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33143

Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee on Urbanspoon