The goods: Miami’s noodle wars are officially on with the opening of American Noodle Bar, a casual, chef-driven Asian eatery that joins Midtown’s Gigi and Surfside’s Chow Down Grill. Chef Michael Bloise, formerly of Wish, brings his Vietnamese-Italian heritage to bear on a wallet-friendly menu of Asian comfort food.
Ambience: Occupying an unlikely spot in the Biscayne Inn at 67th and the Boulevard, ANB feels like an urban Zen diner. A Bruce Lee portrait greets you, as do aromas from the open kitchen, and a chalkboard menu, communal tables and small bonsai plants add homey touches. Hipsters, noodle lovers and besuited locals have been packing the divey digs, where free parking is a welcome perk.
The grub: Japanese noodles by way of a Floribbean barbecue, with more than a soupçon of French technique. Slabs of pork, long-simmered stock and add-ins like basil butter and smoked lobster sauce drive the flavor. Prices are low, with noodles bowls $7, sandwiches $5 and snacks $3-$6.
There are hundreds of possible noodle combos with nine sauces, from siracha butter to bacon sauce, and 10 add-ins like smoked duck, oxtail and Chinese sausage (a bit sweeter than most). Starters include playful takes on classics like cheeseburger dumplings with curry mayo and scallion hush puppies with a tahini-like dipping sauce. Choice can be overwhelming, but stick with the duck, pork shoulder and braised oxtail for the heartiest bowls. Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are composed of traditional crispy French bread, pâté and pickled vegetables.
Verdict: All that choice may be daunting, but American Noodle Bar is leading Miami’s Asian noodle wave.