South Florida’s selection of Asian restaurants may not be as diverse as other major metropolitan areas, but that’s starting to change. Here are three new ones to consider...
The Hot Pot in Davie (pictured) is trying to introduce more Americans to its namesake cooking style, a sort of Asian fondue in which diners cook protein and vegetables in a communal pot of broth before placing them over noodles or rice. Most popular are the family-style hot pot meals for two to eight people. The choice of broths, meats, seafood, vegetables and starches varies with the size of the party. Hot pot items can also be ordered individually. The restaurant is also known for its fresh crawfish, crab and seafood by the pound, and their is an eclectic list of entrees including chicken katsu, Korean-style short ribs and Garlic Butta Shrimp, a Hawaiian favorite. We went with the basic hot pot for two, adding an extra protein. That gave us a mix of shrimp, scallops and steak plus mushrooms, bean sprouts, brown rice and rice noodles. The food is fresh and light, not drowning in heavy sauces, and it’s easy to customize the meal. Be aware that the hot and spicy broth packs a punch. Mixing it with the house broth, we got a combination that was flavorful but not on fire.
The intersection of University Drive and Inverrary Boulevard in Lauderhill is turning into Korean Corner, with Republic of Korea (ROK) one of three Korean restaurants located here. Open just over two months, the small spot bills itself as the only all-you-can eat Korean barbecue restaurant in Florida.There’s also a full menu of pan-Asian small plates popular with the late-night crowd. For $22, diners can get as many orders as they want of marinated beef, marinated chicken, spicy marinated pork and pork belly. Add $5 to include marinated beef ribs. Each plate comes to the table on a hot skillet. The meal also comes with Korean miso stew, green salad with sesame dressing, scallion salad and assorted banchan (small plates) including two kinds of kimchee, omelet, fish cakes, potato salad and caramelized black beans. Everything was incredibly flavorful, and the portions were generous. It’s a great way for anyone unfamiliar with Korean food to get a good sampling. Servers were also friendly and very good at explaining dishes. Our favorites were the spicy pork, flavored with a not-overwhelming hot pepper paste, and the beef marinated in a mix of soy sauce and sesame oil with an underlying sweetness.
The owners of Pembroke Pines’ Pho 78 have opened a second location in Sunrise with the focus on the namesake Vietnamese soup. We started with summer rolls of shrimp and pork, a simple, healthy appetizer with the lettuce, protein and rice noodles rolled in a rice paper wrapper. For those unfamiliar with pho, the beef, chicken or seafood broth comes with the corresponding protein and rice or egg noodles. We opted for one of each. The restaurant’s website explains how to add the accompanying spices, herbs and vegetables for the desired flavor. Unfortunately, on a busy Saturday night our herbs and vegetables didn’t arrive until five to 10 minutes after the soup, which was beginning to get cold. The house-special beef was our favorite, a hearty beef stock loaded with eye-round steak, brisket, meatballs, flank steak and more. (We skipped the tripe.) Chicken was a simple dish with an abundance of white meat chicken in a mild broth. The shrimp-seafood pho was a disappointment, lacking flavor and with only eight shrimp for two people, but the grilled chicken noodle bowl was another winner that works well for kids and less adventurous eaters.