By Linda Bladholm
Many who have discovered Fifi’s Place return often for the happening vibe and fish
and lobsters that are often just hours out of the ocean. Many dishes have a Japanese twist, while others are solidly Latin. Every table gets a small sampler of rock shrimp tempura in spicy mayo sauce to start, and meals end with a complimentary slice of homemade flan. The water is filtered in-house and free.
A key to the restaurant’s success is their supply network, which includes Yunieski Gonzalez, a former Cuban free-diving champ. Almost every day, the 28-year-old surfer paddles a mile out into the ocean and dives to spear hog snapper and grouper and, in season, to collect lobster. Rich Nichols of Port Royal Trading Co., west of the airport, supplies Alaskan black cod, blue fin tuna, Prince Edwards Island Malpec oysters, soft-shell crab and more. Nichols buys stone crabs from the Keys, and Fifi’s cooks them daily — most with the coveted "pink butter” (crab fat).
Fifi’s house specialties include Nova Scotia scallops baked in the shell in a creamy mayo sauce with sautéed mushrooms; black cod marinated and baked in a mixture of miso, mirin and sugar; and hog snapper sashimi in yuzu and soy sauce with fried chips of elephant ear garlic. (The snapper is also served whole and as fillets.) Lunch specials consist mostly of sandwiches, salads and pastas. There’s also a choice of grilled chicken breast, fish fillet or New York strip steak served with brown rice and salad. Dinner specials come with rice and black beans or mashed potatoes with salad. A few, like the seafood paella and mixed seafood parrillada (grill), are for two.
Blue fin toro (tuna belly) comes baked in miso with jalapeño salsa or grilled. Florida lobster is cut into chunks, grilled, tossed in a spicy mayo sauce and stuffed back in the shell. Turf lovers can enjoy aged USDA prime steak and grilled free-range chicken breast. But it is the fresh-from-the-ocean catch — displayed on ice in big coolers near the kitchen — that lures most customers to the party that unfolds here each day.
Fifi’s Place, 6934 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-865-5665. Open daily from noon until the last customer leaves (usually midnight or later). Lunch specials $7.99-$10.99, dinner $5.99-$45.99, stone crabs and lobster market price
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