On Friday, Nov. 15 the annual Lucky Rice event, that highlights Asian culture in food and cocktails, returns to Miami for the second consecutive year. (The event also happens in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.) Held at the Raleigh Hotel on Miami Beach (1775 Collins Ave.; 7:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.), guests will be able to taste various Asian dishes from local and national restaurants, including Restaurant Michael Schwartz, Khong River House, Juvia, The Setai Grill and Phuc Yea, a new Vietnamese concept from The Federal).
At the bar cocktails will be created by eight mixologists using Bombay Sapphire East, the night's official spirit, and serve a total of 16 custom drinks, released throughout the evening. Also served at the bar will be Asahi Beer, Wines from Bordeaux, Champagne Nicholas Feuillatte and Bruce Cost ginger ales
We chatted with Lucky Rice founder Danielle Chang, mixologist Ryan Goodspeed of Restaurant Michael Schwartz and iconic chef Morimoto, all of whom will be in attendance at Lucky Rice Miami. (Morimoto is co-hosting with Miami favorite Chef Michael Schwartz.) General admission tickets are $88 and $125 for VIP. (VIP access is from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. and provides all-evening access to Katsuya's VIP Dragon Lounge). A limited number of American Express VIP tickets (which includes early access from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. and a private demo and meet-and-greet opportunity with Iron Chef Morimoto prior to the start of the event) are available for $150. Tickets can be purchased at www.luckyrice.com
You can win a pair of tickets to the event from Miami.com - just leave a Facebook comment on why we should pick you.
Founder Danielle Chang says…
What was the original inspiration for creating this event?
I've always wanted to find a way to bring Asian cultures to America, since I was born in Asia but grew up in the US, and I found that food is the most accessible and appetizing way to bring that culture to life. Through the lens of food, we've learned so much about people, history, culture, geography, in addition to new flavors, restaurants and chefs. I'm excited to use Lucky Rice as a platform to bring together chefs, foodies and cultural enthusiasts through the lens of Asian food.
What took so long in bringing Lucky Rice to Miami, now in it's 2nd year?
I don't think Miami is an obvious destination for an Asian food festival but I am so excited that Miamians have embraced us with such open arms! There is less than a 2 percent Asian population in Miami (versus 14 percent in New York) so naturally there is less Asian influence. However, when it comes to food I find that some of Miami's most exciting culinary destinations are all Asian-inspired: Hakkasan, Juvia, Khong River House. Miami is such a hip, international destination so it makes sense that the flavors and dining culture reflects that.
Why do the Asian and Latin cultures work so well together when it comes to food?
Both Asian and Latin cultures are so diverse, yet celebratory - and spicy! We are encouraging guests to dress in "chili pepper red" as a nod to the affinity for chili peppers as a flavor profile in both Asian and Latino cuisines. I think this will be particularly highlighted with our cocktails - Bombay Sapphire East is the main spirit in our cocktails for the evening and the gin already has a spicy, tangy undertone due to the Vietnamese peppercorns and Thai lemongrass botanicals. I'm excited to see how the 8 mixologists we're bringing on board will play with the gin in their cocktails.
Mixologist Ryan Godspeed says…
How is Bombay Sapphire East different from the original Bombay?
Bombay Sapphire East is the first new gin to launch from the House of Bombay in over 25 years. It has two newly infused Asian botanicals - Thai Lemongrass and Vietnamese Black Peppercorns from the original 10 in Bombay Sapphire. Both are sourced in East Asia, thus the inspiration behind Bombay Sapphire East's moniker. This makes it the perfect official spirit for Lucky Rice since it brings out all the unique flavor profiles of the variety of Asian dishes being served throughout the festival each year.
Coming up with the custom cocktail recipes for the event - is it just a lot of trial and error or is there a secret to the science?
It's a little of both. Start with a spirit - in this case, Bombay Sapphire East - the number of people attending, how many bartenders you will have, what's available for produce in season and how much is available, glassware, hours of event. It's all part of cocktail design or should be, in my opinion. This is the science. Hopefully, one's knowledge of everything above lessens the trial and error. That said, you never quite end up where you started.
What cocktail inspirations should we expect at Lucky Rice?
The Bombay Sapphire East cocktails will be light and refreshing with bold flavors and subtle presentations. It's great to wow people but the cocktail needs to be balanced and tasteful. Since the gin itself is infused with 12 different botanicals, it really lends itself to a plethora of mix and matching to complement each dish.
Chef Morimoto says...
How did you get involved with Lucky Rice Miami?
First, we participated in Lucky Rice New York with Bombay Sapphire East. We've had a great relationship with the organization since then, and continue to participate in all of the other festivals. I think that Lucky Rice is a great festival and organization because it shines a spotlight on Asian culinary culture throughout the country and the world. It's a way for industry members and consumers to be immersed in the Asian culinary world through a series of unique and exciting events that highlight Asian chefs, dishes, and cocktails.
If not eating at your own restaurant, where do you like to dine when in Miami and why?
I don't have specific restaurants in mind, but I love to explore the city and try different local restaurants and sample the variety of cuisines. My first thought is to always go for Cuban food. I've had some really delicious and authentic Cuban food in Miami.
Will you be featuring any food from your upcoming restaurant at the Shelborne?
We're still working on creating dishes for the Shelborne, so we're not sure just yet.
Who wins in a samurai sword fight - you or chef Michael Schwartz?
That would definitely be a close fight, but of course, I have to bet on myself.
Lucky Rice Miami 2013 Tasting Menu
AZUCAR ICE CREAM
"Que Arroz Con Mango!" - Sticky Rice with Black Beans topped with a Scoop of Mango Sorbet and Black Bean Sauce
BARLEY & SWINE
Pork Sisig Vaca Frita with Kimchi Rice Grits
THE BAZAAR BY JOSE ANDRES
Watermelon and Tomato Skewers with Pistachios and Caramelized Tomatoes
Kueh Pai Ti - Shrimp, Peanuts, Chili Sauce
Mahi Mahi Tacos - Wonton Shell, Tomatillo, and Lime
Baked Crispy Char Siew Bun
Pan-fried Foie Gras Chicken Dumpling
Rock Shrimp Tiradito
KATSUYA'S VIP DRAGON LOUNGE
Toro Hand Rolls with Fresh Wasabi and Nikiri Soy
Salmon Caviar Hand Rolls with Sashimi Soy
Pork and Truffle Tsukune Robata with Asian Pear and Yuzu Garlic Aioli
Baby Corn Robata with Parmesan and Smoke Paprika
KHONG RIVER HOUSE
Burmese Noodle Wraps
MICHY'S MIAMI BEACH POP UP ART BASEL
Duck Confit Lettuce Wraps
ORTANIQUE ON THE MILE
Hibiscus Flower Glazed Pork Shoulder with Mofongo Roulade & Pickled Red Onion
PHUC YEA! by The Federal
Roasted Pork Belly Bun - Char Sui Roasted Pork Belly, Rice Noodles, Cucumbers, Carrots, Pork Cracklings, Fresh Herbs, Nuac Cham
RESTAURANT MICHAEL SCHWARTZ
“Lucky Rice Salad”
THE SETAI GRILL
Chawanmushi - Warm Egg Custard, Japanese Vegetables, Alaskan King Crab, Uma Dashi Broth, Fresh Yuzu Citrus
Foa Gura To Unagi - Pressed Terrine of Foie Gras and Caramelized Eel with Radish Salad & Kinome Leaves
Pork Belly Nigiri, Moro, Colada Glaze, Sweet Plantain Wasabi
Scene from Lucky Rice Miami 2012