Red Koi Thai & Sushi Lounge’s interior is as striking and colorful as the symbolic fish it takes its name from. Walking inside, you'll find a high-hanging chandelier illuminating Japanese paintings and ornamental bamboo suspended against a backdrop of tomato-red walls. The Japanese minimalism that defines the first-floor dining area also features upstairs in a slick, straight-lined lounge, where a full bar stands ready to complement a candlelit meal or add spice to weekly jazz, karaoke, and DJ events.
This dramatic presentation extends to the Coral Gables restaurant's cuisine: diners may find their rolls arranged to resemble petals on a flower or stacked into a tower shaped like tragedy. That’s thanks to Bangkok native and resident chef Tasha Tang, who also incorporates creative, globally inspired ingredients such as guava paste and sweet plantains. In addition to artfully wrapped sushi, diners can also sample traditional Thai dishes, including five types of curry and pad thai.
From the moment you walk in, it's clear that Moonchine Asian Bistro is up to far more than pan-Asian eats. High-backed banquettes, jet-black walls, and soft red lighting all give rise to a clubby vibe; after 9 p.m., Moonchine turns into a full-on lounge with the help of dance DJs, bottle service, and even the occasional poetry performance or high-stakes geography bee. Miami New Times hailed Moonchine as "the gem of the Mimo District," advising guests to "arrive around 6 p.m., have a few rolls, and then head to the music lounge to warm up the dancing shoes."
Indoors and in the huge garden area, bartenders keep spirits high by mixing specialty cocktails and recommending bottles of sake from an extensive list. Which isn't to say that food's an afterthought—indeed, chefs have a lot on their plates, so to speak, juggling Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Korean culinary traditions. House-made kimchi mingles with creative sushi rolls, classic Thai and Indochinese dishes anchor one large corner of the menu, and there's even an almost-traditional bistro section: mussels, duck, and a "thai burger," each given light Asian accents of their own.
At 2B Asian Bistro, it's actually possible to begin your dinner with a bag of gold. That's because the Bag of Gold appetizer uncannily resembles its namesake—its tiny fried pouches contain shrimp, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. The appetizer paves the way for the menu's larger dishes, which present diners with a choice: Japanese or Thai? The former category covers teriyaki entrees as well as sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls. Specialty rolls include the Golden Dragon—spicy tuna and mango topped with plantain slices—and the Pink Snow Roll, smoked salmon and avocado wrapped in soy paper. As for the Thai plates, they range from curry to Bangkok duck paired with cinnamon-plum sauce. You can even order your pad thai accompanied by an entire lobster, rather than just its tail and signature top hat.
Mr. Yum stands out in Little Havana, and not just because it's surrounded by Latin restaurants. The chefs at Mr. Yum embellish each plate with elegant drizzles of sauce and sprigs of herbs placed just so, elevating each meal to high art. Paper-thin salmon and beef tataki prime appetites for tempura-battered seafood and Thai dishes such as panang and massaman curries. In addition to slicing fresh sashimi, sushi chefs coil specialty rolls such as the sun-dried tomato roll and the alfalfa roll, whose tuna and salmon are topped with one stray sprout cowlick. Chandeliers cast a soft glow across the dining room, where an abstract red-heart motif decorates walls and upholstery, creating the vibe of a "mod NYC sushi parlor," according to Thrillist.
The delicate scent of lemongrass and galangal wafts from a bowl of jumbo shrimp, whose coconut-milk broth belies the fiery undercurrent of jalapeño chilies. Nuanced dishes such as these have earned Chef Johnson Teh's Yuga Restaurant its status as Best Japanese Restaurant in 2011. His pan-Asian dishes were heralded in a New Times article as “subtle yet stunning, a dainty but daring calibration of sweet, tart, salty, and spicy that ignites into singular bursts of exquisite taste.” Not content to linger in the kitchen, Chef Teh further deepens the public's appreciation of Asian traditions by hosting themed dinners whose topics have included macrobiotic cooking, Filipino comfort food, and tips for discerning cryptic fortune cookies.
For John Offerdahl, the aroma of meat sizzling on the grill stirs memories of his family's barbecues in rural Wisconsin. Even when John grew up and became a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, he couldn't escape that enticing smell—it would waft into the stadium from fans tailgating outside and the mascots who secretly stuffed their costumes with cheeseburgers. So it was only natural that, after retiring from football, John would once again find himself at the grill when he and his wife Lynn opened Offerdahl's Cafe Grill in 2000. The couple were no strangers to the restaurant business; they had previously owned a chain of bagel shops. This venture, however, would prove more ambitious—they devised menus of classic American cuisine that could be served up fast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a focus on fresh-grilled fare.
Today, Offerdahl's Cafe Grill has expanded to seven locations, but its flavorful, no-frills meals remain the same. "Johnny O's Famous Bagels" still take the starring roles during breakfast, waking diners up with flavors like cinnamon crumb, pumpernickel, and fruit-and-nut. But once breakfast turns to lunch and dinner, the grill takes over. Chefs swiftly cook up steak, chicken, and salmon, serving the proteins over rice, pasta, or salad with homemade dressings. They also grill chicken sandwiches and burgers, in a nod to the café's backyard barbecue roots.