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Sakaya Kitchen - Midtown Miami

lax2mia Jan 7, 2010 06:49 AM

Finally had a chance to go last night. Fast food place with healthy Asian is the concept. Menu is divided into appetizer type dishes, rice dishes and noodles. Latter two are basically build your own (first place I've seen where pork is more expensive than shrimp). Tried egg rolls which were decent, filling was light and dip sauce was good, but $4 for two is a lot. Had to try Korean style chicken wings. Flavor was good but since they arrived in a box they got a little soggy and $7 for 4 is pretty steep. Finally had ginger scallion noodles with galbi (marinated short rib). Seems similar to recipe in Momofuku cookbook. Noodles were good but addition of short rib was a joke and the add'l $5 meant four meager pieces of meat (bone attached). $12 for that dish.

You pretty much get the recurring theme here, food is tasty but prices are way out of whack. Also, serving food in to go boxes (i) makes eating noodles difficult as the leaves of the boxes stick out every which way and (ii) fried items served in closed boxes start steaming and get soggy. We'll see how they make out.

http://www.sakayakitchen.com/

  1. Icantread Jan 7, 2010 07:30 AM

    thanks for the report, lax2mia

    1. n
      nfood Jan 7, 2010 12:22 PM

      Thanks for report as well....I went a couple nights ago down from NYC to escape cold weather...bad idea! Went with a group so we were able to try many things from the menu and some Sake. I had the eggrolls which I also thought they were good and happy to see the dipping sauce is not some sort of sweet sludge from a bottle, plus the absence of cabbage is nice. Tried the short ribs with the combo though (jasmine rice, etc) and the meat was very tasty. The price was about $9 dollars and you Miami peeps must be spoiled because $9 for galbi short ribs is pretty cheap. I actually had them during my stay at Sra Martinez and they were about double the price for Tapas and less. We had the chinese ribs with orange and they had great flavor but a little on the sweeter side for me but most of the group thought they were great. We had the Korean Chicken wings (6 for $4.69 actually) and the flavor was good and were ate first so still crispy. BTW the box did get a little difficult to eat out of (rice) and we asked for share plates and they did not have them so we got more empty boxes. Kind of strange but we dealt with it, they reminded of the boxes from wholefoods takeout. Miso soup had good flavor and was hearty and sort of perfect for the cold weather. It came in a plastic containter more like a chinese takeout. We had the noodle dish with grilled pork (pork is actually pork belly which I was told when I asked what does "pork" mean) The girl at the counter said it is "cured in house and is sort of like a thick cut of bacon." It had good flavor and mixed well with the noodles. They were different then Momofuku ( i love momofuku noodle bar) for sure but very similiar to the classic china town scallion ginger noodle. Menu is a bit small but the consensus was the food was done well and tasty. The prices seemed good for organic to us and what we were eating. Overall a good experience and I wish them the best.

      1. Frodnesor Feb 2, 2010 09:23 PM

        I picked up takeout from Sakaya Kitchen this evening. Standout item for me were the pork buns. I liked the flavor of the Korean chicken wings, the marinade had really infused throughout, but like you I feel I can't address the crispy/soggy question because they travelled 10 minutes in a take-out box. I thought the "combo" which included 6 wings, jasmine rice, kimchi (really liked their kimchi by the way) and pickled cucumbers for about $7.50 was a perfectly fine value. I believe they may have tweaked their pricing some since you visited L2M.

        More of my thoughts here ->
        http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Frodnesor
          lax2mia Feb 3, 2010 04:39 PM

          I've been back a couple of times and noticed the changes. The menu has been simplified (gone are many of the offerings to accompany noodles, now just tofu, chicken or shrimp) which I usually relate to the place focusing on doing a few things well vs. a lot of things mediocrely (sp). I'm hooked on the noodles. Don't know why, I just am. I'm disappointed though with the additions. The chicken, which I believe is grilled breast, is sliced and laid on top of the noodles, almost as an afterthought. The chicken and noodles don't meld together. Instead it's a plate of noodles with chicken on top. Also looks like the jumbo wings have been taken off the menu. Those were one of my peeves as far as price went (but they were good). Solution to eating out of the boxes is take-out, which is what I've done the last couple of times.

          Glad to see they're focusing the menu and fine-tuning their dishes. I enjoyed the pork buns (think it's roast pork, not pork belly though). And who'dve thunk. A few weeks ago we had no roast pork buns to speak of, now there's two places w/i walking distance with good roast pork buns (the ones at Sugarcane, w/ pork belly and apple kimchi are ridiculously good). Our little dining destination is growing up!

          1. re: lax2mia
            Frodnesor Feb 3, 2010 06:36 PM

            When I initially wrote my comments on the pork buns I had a question mark by "belly." Not sure if it survived to the final edit, as I may have convinced myself that's what it was.

            Sounds like I'll have to try Sugarcane as well.

        2. Icantread Feb 3, 2010 01:32 PM

          Got to eat lunch on-site today and the wings are crispy. All the prices were under $10 and, while I initially felt like prices were $1 or so high, when compared to similar fast-casuals like Chicken-Kitchen or Qdoba, etc., there's no comparison. Food was really good at that price point. We tried the aforementioned wings, as well as the ribs (similar to a honey-garlic sauce), and the buns. We really liked everything but found the wings and ribs to be a little too sweet. Kimchee, for kimchee fans, was properly funky. We'll be going back and often.

          1. j
            juanlb Feb 7, 2010 08:19 AM

            Dined there for the first time on Friday night and found it interesting, generally good but a little uneven. Two of us split egg rolls ( regular as they were out of the kimchee variety) which were tasty, but a little greasy and the accompanying dipping sauce too salty. We then had the pork buns, which are made with slow-roasted pork shoulder in a spicy sauce and pickles. These were very good but nowhere near Momofuku quality, the pork belly makes all the difference. For entrees we had the honey glazed ribs and beef bulgogi. The ribs alone merit a return visit, they were falling off the bone but somehow kept a crips exterior. The glaze was a bit cloying, but they were so perfectly cooked it seemed unimportant. The beef was very good as well, but the take-out containers made it uncomfortable to prepare as lettuce wrap. The meal cost around $35, though it's not a huge quantity of food, as portions are modest, it was sufficient. I found their concept a little strange, since it's trying to be fast food (everything in take-out containers, self serve drinks, clean up your own table) but at the same time prices are bit high and since all the food is prepared to order you get the dishes staggered, requiring multiple trips back to the counter to pick your stuff up. The owners seem nice and the chef is obviously talented (worked under Jean-Georges at Vong), they just need to work out some kinks. Will certainly visit again and recommend.

            2 Replies
            1. re: juanlb
              Icantread Feb 7, 2010 09:50 AM

              Thanks for the feedback Juan. . .you described the ribs perfectly.

              1. re: Icantread
                c
                chevrehead Feb 9, 2010 06:03 AM

                We tried it Sunday night, and generally really liked it. My only complaint was that most things were too sweet, especially the salad dressing. I really like the attention to using high quality ingredients. This is why their prices may be a little higher than other fast food concepts. I also don't mind eating out of the boxes at all, I think it's great that they are using highly degradable materials. We will definitely return.

            2. The Chowfather Feb 19, 2010 02:04 PM

              Stopped by for lunch today and left happy. I went with the ika geso age w/ssamjang sauce (calamari) and the aforementioned pork buns. Both dishes were very good. I was a little concerned when ordering b/c I'm not a big fan of sweet tasting food but neither dish was too sweet for me. I'm looking forward to going back and trying the rest of the menu.

              1. Frodnesor Mar 15, 2010 08:59 PM

                I went this past Sunday for the opening day of the "Dim Ssam Brunch" and thought it was just fantastic. The menu expands upon their usual offerings with some more breakfasty items (kimchi scrambled eggs, scallion waffle with Korean fried chicken) as well as just a number of additional items, done in smaller portions (like dim sum) and with smaller prices to match. They're doing table service for the brunch instead of the usual counter service.

                Most expensive thing on the menu was the banchan for $6 which brought seven different items, all delicious (a couple different kimchis, dried cuttlefish, dried anchovies, marinated tofu, bean sprouts, etc.). The Korean pancake with pork, topped with daikon kimchi and ssamjang, was delicious, as were the few other things I tried (beef bulgogi ssam, kimchi scrambled eggs, Korean hot dog.

                The "Dim Ssam" brunch is a great idea, especially if you're ready for some bold flavors to wake you up Sunday morning.

                More about it here ->
                http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Frodnesor
                  g
                  gingersnap Apr 29, 2010 06:54 PM

                  tried sakaya today. pork buns were okay- one was delicious with a wonderful gingery bite while the other was very bland? not sure about that.

                  but the angus beef lettuce wrap may be my new favorite meal in miami. the beef was so flavorful, perfectly cooked and delicious wrapped in a fresh romaine leaf. served with great homemade pickles, rice slathered in a spicy sriacha type sauce, and a decent kim chee.

                  i will be back for this again soon!

                  1. re: gingersnap
                    a
                    Auger May 6, 2010 01:22 PM

                    I went to try the new “Banh Mi” Buns a couple of weeks ago, they were ok, and the regular pork buns, were just meh this time. But to be fair the people who were cooking didn't seem to know what they were doing. One thing I've never really liked were the buns themselves, they seemed a little heavy, and sometimes they have a toast marks as if they reheat them in an over, or on the stove, instead of steaming. But when I went there the last time, I saw on the counter that they used frozen buns. They were in a green and clear package. I think David Chang, buys his buns from someone, so this isn't a criticism. But you can buy a different brand from Luckys, but they're twice as big, so you have to cut them in half. And the PK market in North Miami, doesn't carry any.

                2. dmo305 May 4, 2010 11:57 AM

                  Sakaya remains one of my favorite new spots to open in recent months. I need it weekly. Had the Angus Bulgogi Burger, korean tater tots, and Bo Ssam on my last visit. The burger is a well seasoned patty topped with roasted pork butt, cheese, tots, and spicy mayo. It is ABSURDLY GOOD! Instant top 5 burger in MIA. The tater tots are addictive, and the Bo Ssam was delicious. It came with several chunks of pork, fried oysters, jasmine rice, pickles, kim chee, and bibb lettuce to wrap it up in.

                  Also highly recommend the Dim Ssam Sundays at Sakaya. This is a good opportunity to try lots of different dishes as they offer some smaller portions. Just make sure you get the Spicy Korean Chicken Wings w/ Scallion Waffles. You will thank me later!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: dmo305
                    taiga May 6, 2010 08:52 AM

                    Really good little place.

                    1. re: dmo305
                      s
                      sobeiam Jun 2, 2010 05:31 AM

                      I went the other night and was extremely pleased. I am from NYC and have despaired in finding good Asian food other than Sushi. I had the pork buns and the fried softshell crab buns - delicious. The spicy mayo could've been spicier for the softshell crab. As some noted, the orange-honey ribs were too sweet, not cloying, but on the sweet side for my tastes. The Korean Wings are fantastic. Just delicious - spicy, with light crispy breading. I had the ginger broccoli, fully expecting the traditional kind but was pleasantly surprised with either brocolli rabe or asian version of brocolli. That was great but expensive for the serving size. Overall, I was very satisfied. The prices weren't crazy. Its in a high rent area and the food is of excellent quality. Sakaya goes for quality ingredients - local or organic where it can. As for the packaging? A little inconvenience to spare more plastic from going into the garbage dumb is fine with me. It really is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.

                      1. re: sobeiam
                        HabaneroJane Jun 3, 2010 09:59 AM

                        long story short, I love, love, love this place. Love.

                    2. c
                      czjohnson Jun 9, 2010 01:10 PM

                      I walked by this place many times and never had the urge to go in. Now I'm kicking myself that I didn't try it earlier. My recommendation is the Beef lettuce wraps. Comes with jasmine rice and kimchi. The beef is really tender and delicious. Pretty good food for a pretty good price.

                      1. tarepanda Jul 3, 2010 06:43 PM

                        THe chicken wings are really good, with lots of ginger and garlic.
                        THe bugolgi lettuce wrap is quite tasty. It uses jasmine rather than short grained rice as a real Korean restaurant would, but the rice is nicely cooked. Have to complain about the lettuce though - limp, small and torn pieces, totally useless for wrapping.
                        Heard great things abut the pork bun but were disappointed. The meat was not tender at all and the flavor came from the sauce and not the meat itself.
                        Still, overall happy enough to want to go back for a second try.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: tarepanda
                          y
                          YonaShyml Sep 18, 2010 06:45 PM

                          Have been three times, and each time the experience has been better. Terrific ribs and brussell sprout rice bowl. Place over-indexes in a major way in the price vs quality ratio.

                          1. re: YonaShyml
                            taiga Sep 20, 2010 06:19 PM

                            That just shows how low your expectations are. In our beloved MIA, delicious and stylish places which are affordable are too rare. Maybe Sakaya and such will multiply.

                        2. m
                          miaedu Sep 22, 2010 09:13 PM

                          I'm addicted to the ginger brussel sprouts.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: miaedu
                            lax2mia Sep 23, 2010 02:11 PM

                            Ditto. But I suggest you eat them there and not drive home with them in your car, otherwise you'll have to air out your vehicle for a few hours before allowing humans back in. Those things are delicious, and they're potent!

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