Miami is finally getting the much needed push to be taken seriously as an emerging North American food destination.
Alongside the growing Wynwood Craft Beer movement, gourmet street food is finding a home in the trendy neighborhood; from twice fried Korean chicken served with freshly made donuts, to Matcha Green tea Ice cream that comes in a fish shaped cone.
From Brickell to Broward, fine dining is popping up across the city.
One of the most exciting of these restaurants to open in recent times was Dale Talde’s eponymous restaurant at The Confidante in Miami Beach.
Founder Dale Talde is best known for his appearance on two seasons of the Bravo reality show Top Chef and competing in Iron Chef America.
Chef Talde’s wealth of knowledge on Asian Cuisine is vast and gained from decades of experience; He grew up in a first-generation Filipino household where he learned his way around the kitchen. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in the late 90s, he got his start in Chicago at Le Anne, a Vietnamese bistro and the Thai-Inspired French Restaurant Vong-Chicago.
Following this, he worked with both Kevin Shikami and Masaharu Morimoto before serving as Chef de Cuisine at Buddakan; a fine dining restaurant inspired by the flavors of the Far East and the flamboyance of 16th century Paris.
As the Director of Asian Concepts for STARR Restaurants, Chef Talde consulted on numerous projects for a group that boasts leading Contemporary Pan Asian and Modern Asian restaurants in their portfolio of award-winning restaurants.
In 2012, along with business partners David Massoni and John Bush; Talde Brooklyn was created.
The Talde concept was then expanded to different cities and forms part of over ten restaurants that the trio has opened since then.
The menu features Asian-American classics that reflect the chef’s heritage and culinary training and also showcases his approachable and fun take on the food that he creates.
Being invited to sample the Happy Hour Menu at the Talde was exciting since it also meant getting to check out the beach-house inspired hotel that houses the restaurant.
The Confidante is a part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt and combines the glamor of Miami’s past, the amenities of a modern hotel, and the trust of the Hyatt Brand.
Walking into Talde Miami from a hotel lobby inspired by the Golden Era of Miami Beach is like stepping into another world. Street Art covers most of the walls and one is simply exposed brick with a brass Chinese dragon bolted on.
Hip-Hop beats pulse in the background and on shelves behind the bar, jade lion figurines are juxtaposed against books on Rap.
I start with their Signature Rum Cocktail, the Bondi Kelly. It’s the quintessential light rum cocktail done right. Luxardo Maraschino Liquor, Carpano Antica, and charred pineapple syrup add ideal depth to the mix of lime juice, pineapple juice and lightly aged Puerto Rican Rum.
While enjoying this drink, the kitchen sends out two delicately soft bao buns. One is stuffed with slow-cooked pork belly marinated in sticky hoisin sauce, the other has an avocado fritter with a panko breadcrumb coating. Pickled squash and spicy mayo perfectly contrast the creamy avocado and house made pickles give the pork bao just enough crunch.
The bao buns are followed up by the surprisingly refreshing Green Lightning; a combination of house made green tea infused vodka, Chinese green tea, cucumber juice and lime. A cucumber slice and fresh mint leaves give this cocktail a light, herbal aroma.
The accompanying dishes are typical Chinese-American comfort food.
Kung Pao chicken wings in a sticky and zesty sauce topped with peanuts and chillies in one plate and pork and chive dumplings made with pretzel dough in the other. The wings are accompanied by a cool and creamy ranch sauce. The dumplings are served with spicy mustard reminiscent of wasabi. It’s easy to bite into these appetizers and think about the quaint yet high quality Chinese Restaurants that can be found all across the United States.
At the recommendation of the bartender, I try out a Plum Basil Margarita next. It’s a traditional margarita mixed with house made plum puree syrup steeped with thai basil. This twist on a margarita perfectly captures Dave Missoni’s vision of creating East meets West cocktails for Talde Miami.
The next appetizer is evidence that Chef Talde’s expertise in Asian cuisine also expands into South Asia; two golden sweet pea samosas fried to flaky perfection and served with kaffir lime yogurt and golden raisin chutney.
The final appetizer was the one that I was excited about, since locals actually rave about the Late Night Noodles at Talde Miami and the idea of a spot to get amazing ramen at two in the morning was part of the inspiration behind the restaurant. The Miso Cashew Noodles were elegantly simple, noodles served in an earthy and creamy miso sauce and topped with toasted cashew chunks and Szechuan peppercorns.
The final cocktail was just as impressive and a reminder that John Bush has been involved with bartending and mixology since 1995.
The flavors of Bourbon, cinnamon and apple always go well together but to use them in something truly outstanding and unique is difficult. Similarly, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail that’s perfect in its simplicity with just whisky, Angostura Bitters and a sugar cube.
The Apple Old Fashion meets these challenges head on and stands out as a tart and complex cocktail with robust whisky flavor throughout. The secret of this cocktail is a syrup that includes over nine ingredients and over a day of preparation that’s then combined with Bourbon, Applejack, and Carpano Antica.
To complete an amazing meal, the kitchen sends out one of the few deserts made by Chef Talde and explains the significance behind it.
The 5G cookie won the chef Five Thousand Dollars in a cooking contest. It’s made with potato chips, caramel, chocolate ganache and sea salt giving it the perfect balance of sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy.