Spice it up

12 Aug

Many cities around the United States have restaurant week. Miami’s version of “restaurant week” is called Miami Spice and lasts two months, August 1st- September 30th. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, restaurants around the city offer a multi-course menu for a fixed price ($22/person for lunch, $35/person for dinner).

Last night, I took advantage of Miami Spice and went to Hakkasan with a group of great friends. We were getting together because one of my best friends and her fiance are moving to New York City tomorrow. On a side note, I am very sad that they are leaving Miami. She is the person I moved to Miami with over four years ago! I wish them the best in their next endeavor and I can’t wait to visit them in NYC soon!

Back to the Miami Spice…As a vegetarian, it’s difficult to truly enjoy Miami Spice because most of the restaurant fixed price meals feature dishes that contain fish or meat. For non-vegetarians, Miami Spice is a great opportunity to try dishes (i.e. – steak) at a fraction of the normal cost at the more expensive restaurants around the city. Also, I find that as a vegetarian it’s difficult to justify spending $35 on a fixed-price meal of vegetables…

Hakkasan, which is known for its contemporary Chinese fare, caters to the vegetarian in their Miami Spice menu. As an appetizer, I chose the Vegetarian Dim Sum Platter. This consisted of three steamed dumplings, pumpkin, carrot and assorted vegetable. Steamed dumplings are a great and healthy option at a chinese restaurant, but unfortunately, I found these particular dumplings to be somewhat bland.

For the next course, I had the vegetarian Hot and Sour soup, a dish I’ve never tried before. I enjoyed the flavors of the soup, it had a thicker texture to it and I liked that it was somewhat sweet, yet it also had a kick to it.

I chose Stir-Fry Lotus Root, Asparagus and Lily Bulb in Black Pepper as my main course, essentially a plate of sauteed vegetables. The flavors were good, but I think that if given the the same vegetables, I could cook this dish fairly similarly in my own kitchen. As a table, we were able to choose a rice and noodle dish to be served family style. We went with the vegetable fried rice and the wild mushroom handpulled noodles. I like the sauce and the diced mushrooms with the noodles…

but I’ve seen handpulled noodles in Chinatown in Washington DC (Chinatown Express, anyone?) and these definitely did not live up to those noodles, mmm….

Chinatown Express Handpulled Noodles

There was only one option for dessert – Jasmine and Exotic Fruit Soup Lemon Verbena Sorbet and a Financier. I opted out altogether, as a fancy fruit cocktail doesn’t properly hit my sweet tooth. To tell you the truth, I was plotting where else we could get dessert from as everyone else enjoyed their dessert course.

Overall, the food was marginal at best. Since Hakkasan is Michelin-star rated in London, I had high expectations for this meal. The portions were small and the food lacked the true pizazz and bold flavors that I was seeking in Hakkasan. However, the greatest part about Miami Spice is that I was able to try a top restaurant in Miami and I only walked away spending $35 in food.

Does the city you live in have restaurant week? Have you enjoyed the restaurants that you’ve tried during the week?

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5 Responses to “Spice it up”

  1. Damaris August 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    love the posting raquel! i concur that the meal was a disappointment, except of course, for the company!!! i was underwhelmed and found the food to be too salty and the portions too small. my favorite dish was probably the vegetables. the steamed seabass was nice and tender, but too small a portion to really have it be enjoyable. my vote is that we try another restaurant for miami spice 😉

  2. Janna August 12, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    bummer that dinner was mediocre. i looooove hot and sour soup, except usually it’s made with pork. when i can find a vegetarian version at a restaurant, i’m always a happy camper. similarly, i also love a thai vegetarian tom yum soup. the flavors are amazing.

  3. Hillary August 13, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    DC has a restaurant week and I hate it! In fact I choose not to eat out during the time period any more. I am not a vegetarian and still find slim pickens in the menu choices. The food is always mediocre and never outstanding. But worst of all is the service. I have NEVER experienced good service during restaurant week. My hunch is that he servers are all mad that their tips suffer do to thoes great restaurant week deals.

    How was the service at Hakkasan during Miami Spice?

  4. vmacandcheese August 13, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    SF has one, and I’m pretty meh on it. I’ve found that in an effort to ensure they still make money off the “deals,” the prix fixe menus for restaurant week tend to offer boring, pared down options, often with a lot smaller portions than normal. Also, because they anticipate hordes of people coming in and ordering the prix fixe, a lot of the stuff is made way in advance and not so tasty. Wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happened with your dumplings.

    Vegetarian options in restaurants is another issue entirely! Don’t you find it infuriating when the veg option is ill-conceived and really boring?

  5. liz August 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    the only thing i can say to this post is, you’ve never had hot & sour soup before?!!??!

    i feel like i have failed as a friend, and once i tell my dad, i’m sure he’s going to give YOUR dad an earful…as he does anyway.

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