The goods: The team behind South Miami’s Town Kitchen & Bar and Smoke’t brings us Sake Blue Asian Kitchen & Bar, a tsunami of sushi, noodles and sake — Miami’s biggest collection, they claim – just behind the Village of Merrick Park.
Ambience: Set in old Chispa space, the raw-fish temple kept the colorful tile floors and massive bar, adding a coterie of sushi chefs at the center of the restaurant. A DJ supplies Buddha Bar house music on the weekend.
The grub: Modern Asian cooking. Chef Robert Pagan, who worked with Jonathan Eismann and Douglas Rodriguez, has put together a lengthy menu of about 10 maki rolls, a dozen “to share” plates and a handful of noodle and main dishes. Prices are on par with other sleek Asian spots: maki rolls average $14, small plates are $6-$14 and most mains are about $20.
If you’re not afraid of spice, go for the wok-fried shisito peppers, a Tokyo bar snack. Then it’s on to steamed buns made with slabs of sugar-cured pork belly topped with apples, cucumber and cilantro. The sushi rolls stretch the bounds of fusion with combos like the Soflo (crispy white fish, roasted tomato and vanilla pineapple sauce) and eel coconut (broiled eel, toasted coconut and avocado). The tuna poke is a spicy mélange of yellowfin, mango, kimchee peanuts and togarashi potato chips while the hamachi tataki is accompanied by chayote squash and radish slices. Hearty mains include seared cobia in a dashi broth, wok-charred salmon with crispy bok choy and braised short rib with chickpea puree. Latin influences poke through with the oxtail wonton soup with beef broth and scallion and the Madagascar shrimp with aji amarillo sauce.
Desserts include a banana spring roll with salted toffee, Nutella, candied peanuts and praline ice cream and a candied Asian pear confit with hazelnut cookie and guanabana sorbet.
Verdict: A sleek, clubby atmosphere and epic list of sakes bring a mod-Asian scene to the Gables.