MIKEY TAKES MIAMI: Day Three and Four

Mikey showcases his third and fourth day on the Miami Food Tour

Day three consisted of a trip to Miami Beach and it was exactly as you’d picture. Muscle beach area, people on roller blades and cars dripping the strip. We also had a trip on a private yacht – the Miami vibe got me!


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On the evening after a day at the beach on the sea was a trip to a restaurant called Hutong - where fiery Northern Chinese cuisine meets artisanal dim sum and exotic signature cocktails - Chinese ‘yin' and Miami ‘yang’.

100-year-old Chinese bricks mingle with vivid pop-art colors, smooth dark chocolate mousse rub shoulders with heady Sichuan peppercorn and the Great Wall of hand-carved wood panels pulsate to Miami’s latest Latin lounge music.

The setting is very beautiful and the food trumps that. The pricing was extreme, but I had some of the most beautiful food I have ever tasted. The best place yet for food for me.

We had a real treat from Chef Martin Mak, who with 50 years of culinary experience, presented a showstopping display of a whole duck at table side. Flames bring out an intense fragrance of aromatic chilies releasing a distinctive and peppery aroma as your flame engulfed duck is artfully carved tableside, while adding a new layer of crispy texture to the duck. It was immense to watch and the flavors and melt in your mouth texture was amazing.

The next day (day four), I went for breakfast with a brand I'm familiar with - Starbucks, the only place is Miami that still uses poster menus!

In comparison to our stores, mobile order and pay services are much more popular. The food showcase wasn’t as impressive though. I really liked their approach by only showing you the Grande price. When you order beverages come as a Grande as standard – very clever.

Then we headed to our second Q&A of the trip, in a gorgeous setting. Amara – Yeah we had a conference on the rooftop – that’s a first for me.

Michael Schwartz Genuine Restaurant was the first restaurant to be built in the design and district. He was recognised as the best chef in Miami South back in 2010 when his new establishment Amara was built to appeal to the Latin community based locally. A heavy Latin American themed menu for the Caribbean and Florida Keys was integral to his approach.

Michael spoke about his new brand ‘Harrys pizzas’ and how he created the brand from scratch to go on and franchise, which unfortunately failed. He then scaled the brand right back and now only has two restaurants left. Both are very powerful and regularly collaborate with celebrity restaurants, which are everywhere in Miami.

He does not agree with cloud kitchens and feels they are killing the market with bad food. Michael really believes that pizza is a trend that is going to stay high in demand for Miami.

I learnt lots during this Q&A, including:

  • Exec chefs’ salaries in Miami are between 80-120k USD.
  • A line chef makes between 35-50k USD.
  • Miami food prices have risen by 9% overall
  • White Claw Vodka – a Chicago based brand inspired by the waves - will compete with Grey Goose in 2-3 years’ time
  • People act like they care about sustainability – but not at all in the same levels as the UK and other global counterparts.
  • Allergens are in place and its was on every server's question list to see if we have them but not much consideration is given to this in buffet approach menus.

Then we headed to the Design & District to visit Michaels first restaurant and try his amazing food and experience. Best known for its array of designer shops, Miami’s Design District is easily overlooked when it comes to dining out, but it absolutely shouldn’t be.

A city stalwart, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is often hailed as being the restaurant to have put the Design District on the culinary roadmap. In more recent years, the district has seen an influx of New York groups opening their Miami outposts here. LeAtelier, as well as sister restaurant Le Jardinier, have both created a well-deserved buzz, as well as fellow Big Apple import, Cote.

This area is like Bicester Village. You can tell Michael’s made it when his restaurant is nestled between a Rolex and Bape brand. We tried his taster menu, and all of the little plates were packed with character and flavor. The octopus was my firm favourite – immense!

Then we moved over to an area once known as Miami’s gritty art district, Wynwood – just north of Downtown. This area has been developed into one of the city's trendiest, most exciting areas. Today, every corner of the district is adorned with striking art pieces, both in the form of impressive galleries and breathtaking street murals.

The culinary scene in Wynwood is almost as impressive as it’s art, with it being home to some of the city’s most bustling restaurant concepts, such as KYU and Asian Food Hall.

We then went to a restaurant called Pez Loco. The building and walk through was a real treat. I asked for a hand battered chicken burger only and this is exactly what I got. Even full, I finished it all.

Keep your eyes peeled to read more about the fifth and final day!