Peruvian Japanese Food in Miami
Plus: A Very Boca Thanksgiving, Sant Ambroeus Palm Beach, and Eric Kim on Lunch Therapy.
Hey newsletter friends,
Finally: we’re past Thanksgiving. No more turkey guides, no more annoying podcasts telling you how to get the food to your table hot (except for mine, of course), no more variations on the theme of cranberry sauce.
As most of you know, my family lives in Florida and so I spent Thanksgiving there hanging out with my niece Ella and my nephew Jordan. Maybe I’m biased, but they’re pretty much the best. Here I am making brownies with them and my dad (my mom wanted us to use a mix, which worked out great — highly recommend Ghiardelli’s):
And here I am feeding Jordan ice cream on Thanksgiving, the only thing he liked eating. (Who can blame him?)
But as cool as my niece and nephew are, that’s not today’s headline: today’s headline is the best meal that we ate in Florida, lunch at Itamae in the fashion district of Miami.
What led us to eat there? Well it’s one of The New York Times’s favorite restaurants of 2021, for starters. The restaurant, which is located in a plush courtyard surrounded by such high-end stores (Hermes, Pucci) we’re surprised that we were allowed to eat there, serves Nikkei cuisine: the cuisine of Japanese immigrants to Peru.
Imagine the sophisticated simplicity of Japanese food (specifically, seafood) paired with the spicy and refreshing Peruvian food and you’ll get the idea. We started with kue tiradito with cucumber, pickled radish, cacao, and granadilla which you can see at the top of this post (that’s grouper sashimi, in case you’re not familiar with kue or tiradito).
Next up we had the Hokkaido scallop tiradito with sake lees, roasted banana, and caper leaves.
I thought I’d notice the roasted banana more, but the fried caper leaves were the most surprising element: they were crunchy but had the brininess of capers.
The waiter said we had to try the octopus bandadito with avocado, botija olive, and sarza criolla and he didn’t steer us wrong.
The most mind-blowing dish was the conchitas a la parmesana with Hokkaido scallop, Parmesan, and lime.
I never thought that scallops with broiled cheese over it would work, but it totally worked: it almost had tuna casserole vibes, with much fresher flavors.
Finally, we had the spicy tuna maki with avocado, shiitake mushroom, kimchi, aji rocoto, and sweet soy.
This was the most conventional bite of the meal — it reminded me of the first sushi that I ever ate in college, giant rolls loaded up with stuff — but here it was way more polished and nourishing. Loved every bite.
For dessert, we had to try the cremolata with tangerine, jojo tea, and manjar blanco.
This was like a Creamsicle had a baby with a granita with mysterious white confetti being thrown at the baby shower (just go with me here). I loved every bite.
And we also had the torta helada with red mamey, mamey seed, and hibiscus.
These desserts were such works of art… actually, everything there was a work of art. And it all tasted as good as it looked. So I highly recommend a trip to Itamae the next time you’re in Miami.
As for the rest of our Florida Thanksgiving, my parents took us to lunch at Sant Ambroeus in Palm Beach, a sister restaurant of the Sant Ambroeus we used to live near in the West Village.
The scene there is really wild. We saw a woman walking around in a designer dress while holding a rabbit. Not joking.
Craig and I shared this watermelon and Feta salad, which was a bit too heavy on the cheese.
We also shared this burger which came on a housemate bun and had exemplary fries.
For dessert, we all got our own gelato: I chose stracciatella which has chocolate swirled into it, plus a macchiato which made me look very sophisticated.
All-in-all, it was a great trip to Florida… though we came back with colds. (I almost always get a cold when going home for Thanksgiving, though this one, thankfully, came at the end.)
Hey, guess who’s on Lunch Therapy this week? NYT food columnist and author of Korean American: A Cookbook, Eric Kim!
Eric and I have a really in-depth talk about everything from whether food writing can be taught (he thinks it can, I have my doubts) to experiencing racism in food media. CLICK HERE to listen and, as always, if you can find it in your heart to leave a nice review on Apple podcasts, I always appreciate that.
No links this week — sorry, was busy with family! — but I’ll have some for you next time around.
Have a great one….