Thai-Japanese hybrids have become the norm from Toronto to Tampa. And though it is easy to dismiss them as less than authentic, Bonsai makes it worth forgetting whatever you might have learned in world history class. The stunning new sibling of the Tamiami Trail original is a surprisingly sexy spot with delicious food and a young, eager staff.
The vast menu includes plenty of goofy only-in-Miami rolls like a mango and tuna topped soy paper roll stuffed with cream cheese and shrimp tempura, but also lots of delicious renditions of favorites, from a lemon grass-laden tom yum soup with tender strips of white chicken, lots of lime, plump straw mushrooms, and sweet Thai basil. I am not a fan of crazy rolls stuffed with more items than you find on a brunch buffet, but for those who are, there are nearly 50 to choose from along with classics from salmon skin to tekka rolls.
Ambience: A pair of the namesake gnarly-trunked, dwarf trees surrounded by smooth, black, river stones flank the open kitchen, tucked into dramatically lighted, recessed wall boxes. In Japanese culture, bonsai represents harmony and balance between man and nature, an apt symbol for this peaceful oasis in a fluorescent-flooded Kendal strip mall. Guests are welcomed by a team of hostesses with wide smiles and easy manners standing in front of a beautifully lighted glass waterfall. The setting could qualify as one of the coolest I have seen in Kendall. In fact, it would be easy to think you were in a South Beach club with the gray, subtly iridescent concrete floor, stark white plates, cool paper lanterns and black lacquered tables, cozy booths and even hipster house music piped through the airy space.