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Aug 30, 2010 06:23 AM

Gigi (Midtown Miami)

I know a few of us have gone, here's thoughts:

Food: First a comment on the kitchen. They're freaking fast! We tempered expectations as it was only the 2nd night open so we were ready for long lulls between ordering, apps and mains but these people are on fire! Menu is split up into app-type plates to share and then noodle and rice bowls sized as an entree for 1 or can be shared. Ordered crispy chicken skin (couldn't resist) and to offset that and feign being healthy, local tomato and avocado salad as apps. Chicken skin was tasty, but some non-crispy parts made for a bit more of a chewy experience than anticipated. Also the asian romesco was thinner than I'd thought from a romesco. The salad was very good, especially with the addition of finely sliced fresh hearts of palm (which I still find difficult to find in Miami) and some rice "croutons" made from what looks to be the rice that burns at the bottom of the pan if you don't catch it in time (kind of like the crispy rice in a well made paella, but cooked longer and crispier and a perfect replacement for a bread crouton). For mains the softshell crab w/ red curry was very good, if maybe a bit rich for one person, and local cobia on fermented black bean rice - very tasty and excellent for fans of both fish and umami.

Drinks: Just beer and sake. Great compact list, including Rogue's soba-based ale.

Space: Mostly bar seating overlooking the vast open kitchen. Great way to talk to cooks about the food while they're carving intricate flowers out of carrots using the longest knife you've ever seen. Floor to ceiling windows in the main dining room make it feel airy and open with a view of happening Miami Ave.

Service: waiters friendly and efficient and kitchen extremely efficient considering it was only the 2nd day.

Pricing: Ridiculously fair. Don't think anything was over $15.

3470 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127

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  1. Ditto. We were there Friday (first night officially open) and I was very impressed with how smoothly it was running and how knowledgeable the staff was on the menu. Between 4 of us we ate probably more than half the menu. Some highlights -

    - a very nice salad with seriously perky lettuces, edamame, Asian vinaigrette
    - the chicken skins we had were nicely crisp, almost like chicharrones (they're listed in the grilled section of the menu but seemed fried?), though I wasn't entirely sold on the romesco
    - pulled chicken buns were good, though not as explosively flavorful as Sakaya's (not as messy either - decide for yourself if that's a plus or minus).
    - I really enjoyed the melon, compressed with lime (and a touch of vinegar?) and sprinkled with togarashi and thai basil
    - the "1 lb. of southern boy bbq ribs" were very tasty, more Asian than Southern to me (reminiscent of the "Chinatown" ribs at Pacific Time).
    - sweet corn with a tofu shmeer was surprisingly good, the corn picking up some nice smoky flavor and the tofu mimicking a chile/mayo (or maybe cotija) Mexican style elote
    - I also enjoyed the pork ramen, nice broth, good amount of shredded roasted pork belly, some fresh corn and snow peas, a 63° egg; the noodles I wasn't completely sold on (presumably not house-made).
    - grilled shiitake mushrooms with a sticky soy sauce didn't quite hit the mark. Sliced thin, they were sort of bouncy / slippery and I thought the sauce muted rather than enhanced their umami potential.

    Only real downer was the desserts. They offered a couple of soft-serves ice creams - green tea and yuzu - but both had pretty muted flavors and tasted more of "generic soft-serve ice cream." A banana cream pie also was very straightforward and unexceptional.

    Very good prices (pretty much everything under $15), the place has a funky, pseudo-industrial feel to it with big floor-to-ceiling windows, mostly counter / stool seating.

    It's all very Chang-ian, but I don't see that as being a bad thing. I will happily take as many budget-friendly, Asian-inspired, real-cooking places as the the restaurateurs are willing to throw out there. They've got a long way to go before they catch up on the steakhouses.

    1. I was also at Gigi on Friday night and enjoyed it.

      Pork buns -- very good. The buns themselves were better than Sakaya and the pork was good, but overall not as flavorful as Sakaya.

      Crispy Chicken Skin -- They were crispy, but didn''t have as much chicken flavor as I'd have liked. The asian romescu was nice.

      Chicken drumsticks -- Good, but not something I'd go out of my way for.

      Short Rib "Meatloaf" -- This was very good. Really a slice of braised shortrib, not a ground meat meatloaf. Served with a very nice spoke plaintain puree.

      Grilled corn -- Nice, but not something I'd rave about.

      Duck rice bowl -- This was the best meal of the night. Basically a duck leg confit in a coconut risotto and with a sauce that I can't really describe well, but worked very well with the duck and risotto.

      Shrimp pad thai -- The shrimp themsleves were small and weren't great. this was a less sweet and more tart version of pad thai than the norm. That could be because I squeezed a fair amount of lime into it. But I enjoyed it overall.

      The desserts were nothing special, but I did like that you could get a small cone of the soft serve for a buck. It was a small cone, but sometimes you just need a little bit of something sweet. That said, the soft serve itself was nothing special.

      One gripe that shocked me: several in our party order regular tap water. They charged us $1 per person. I don't recall ever being charged for tap water before. I chose not to make a fuss about it, but in retrospect probably should have.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Fineas

        It is increasingly common in local restaurants that have installed filtration systems to charge $1/pp for filtered water, which is what I believe is the deal at Gigi. I should also have noted that they had home-made "spritzers" that were prepared by vacuuming the flavoring agent (we tried star anise, they also had a basil one) with a syrup and using it to flavor carbonated water. It was really quite nice, brightly flavored but not very sweet. Our server was great, too, he brought out a jar of star anise pods so my daughter could smell the original source material for the soda.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          I don't recall seeing the charge for tap water before. I don't usually "order" water, so maybe that's why. I still don't like it, especially if they are not giving you the option of the free stuff from the tap or telling you that they will charge you for it.

          1. re: Fineas

            While it is often bad form to order only tap water in Europe, the entire structure is different. If these guys charge and they have written it in the menu, then I think it is fair. If not, it is a bad practice and they should be corrected.

            1. re: taiga

              I'll pay the dollar for filtered tap water. I'm sure you can ask for the "free" tap water, I will promise you don't want to see that faucet!

      2. I stopped by Gigi on Saturday night and agree w/ the above comments, this place is going to be real good! We tried several items, including the melon, chicken skin, roasted corn, drumsticks, pork buns, ribs, blt, and ramen.

        The buns were very good, pork topped with crushed peanuts. Good but not as good as Sakaya's.

        The pork belly blt was awesome! Thick slice of (braised?) pork belly between two grilled bao opened flat, with lettuce tomato and some good aioli. Unctuous!

        Would skip the fried chicken skin (menu does say Grilled which would be 100x better) and drumsticks which were fine but nothing special.

        Would definitely get melon (surprisingly good kick!) and corn again (tofu shmear worked well).

        Ribs were real tasty but definitely wouldn't call em "Southern Boy" unless you mean Southern(Asian). Ramen was good, thought broth was a little light but when I ate it as leftovers the next day it tasted better so maybe my buds were just fried the night before. Noodles are not home made. I love noodles and if they are serious about the noodle bar thing I'm sure they will start making their own eventually.

        LOVE that they are open late, this will be THE after hours food spot on this side of town.

        Be back soon.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dmo305

          sounds promising but you have to love Miami. One person starts serving pork buns and then all of a sudden, everyone serves pork buns (et al). Cant anyone be a little inventive?

        2. I love this place, the food is great. My real reason for commenting is because I NEED the recipe for the braised Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts! I've tried duplicating it at home, but the sauce is where I need help. I know it's made with bacon, and then the drippings (maybe) soysauce, sugar??? Not sure, I've tried adding a bit of fish sauce? Although all my attempts have been tasty, it is still not the same. Please help! To think I did not like brussels sprouts before this dish. I am hoping one of their staff reads this and comes to the rescue. I <3 you.

          3470 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127

          1. Bumping this thread as I'm here from out of town and considering Gigi tomorrow night.

            Would a person who is very familiar with real Asian cuisines (not fusion) think this place is a joke? I can get cha siu bao in California anytime I want for $2/bun - does this place use good enough ingredients and technique to live up to their reputation? I've been disappointed in the past by more mid-range "Asian fusion" joints in Miami that are either:

            a) barely passable versions of authentic Thai, Chinese, Japanese cuisines (cf: Asian Fusion Cafe in Palmetto Bay, which clearly subs out real Thai ingredients for the sake of not freaking out their clientele)

            b) total and indescribable hot messes that would never fly in cities used to these cuisines (cf: Stir Moon, albeit the now-closed Dadeland location).

            From the reviews, I'm expecting that Gigi will not necessarily be 100% "authentic," but WILL be flavorful, nuanced, and interesting enough to justify paying fine dining-type prices. Does it truly live up to that expectation?

            1 Reply
            1. re: bigwheel042

              "Would a person who is very familiar with real Asian cuisines (not fusion) think this place is a joke?"

              Probably. Perhaps that's not fair, as I haven't been there in ages (my comments above from 3 years ago are in no way representative of the place now, I'm sure), but even those ages ago it was drifting away from the semi-Asian-fusion theme into just a sort of hodge podge of stuff that occasionally has some Asian connection to it. And not particularly well done. Though there has been turnover in the kitchen since I was last there, so YMMV.

              If you want to dip your toes in the Asian fusion waters again, I'd sooner suggest you go to Pubbelly. Or for something less fusion-y:
              Makoto (Japanese, Bal Harbour)
              Hakkasan (Chinese, Mid-Beach; overpriced but some things can be very good)
              Momi (ramen, Brickell)
              Sumi (yakitori, Brickell - same owner as Momi)
              Hiro's Yakko-San (izakaya, North Miami Beach)