New wave of casual Asian eateries hits Miami

Jeff McInnis from Season 5 of Top Chef recently opened his own restaurant, gigi, in Miami's Wynwood Arts District.

Miami's culinary scene is punctuated by a number of big name chefs who appear on BravoTV's Top Chef, the FoodTV Network's Iron Chef America and at the annual autograph hunt that is the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. And now, a number of younger chefs who perfected their craft supporting the stars are branching out on their own at storefront Asian eateries from Midtown Miami to Surfside.

This is extremely good news for foodies who find themselves stranded in a city where Thai/Sushi is considered a cuisine. Chef Joshua Marcus left BLTSteak at the Betsy Hotel to open Surfside's Chow Down Grill, a tiny spot serving Chinese and Vietnamese-inspired dishes utilizing fresh local ingredients. Following a stint at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Chef Richard Hales opened Sakaya Kitchen, a fast-casual organic restaurant with Korean, Filipino and Chinese recipes he's collected from friends and family members.

Chef Michael Bloise spent years putting Wish Restaurant at Hotel of South Beach on the map and recently left to (finally) introduce Miami to its first American Noodle Bar. Drawing from his Vietnamese and Italian backgrounds, Bloise fills his menu with gourmet riffs on Asian street foods best paired with a few chilled beers. Finally, Chef Jeff McInnis set hearts a flutter on Season 5 of Top Chef before returning to his post as chef de cuisine at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. After five years preparing a Mediterranean tapas menu for the hotel's DiLido Beach Club, McInnis opens gigi in the Wynwood Arts District; a noodle, BBQ and beer joint serving communal comfort food with an Asian flair.

While any South Florida vacation can include a visit to a fancy hotel dining room, adventurous travelers should seek out these affordable eateries where the guys who helped make the famous chefs famous are finally stepping out into the spotlight.


[Photo Credit: Flickr/h-bomb]

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