LISTED: Bon Appétit Magazine lists Sakaya Kitchen as The Top 6 Places in the country to Taste the New Asian Fusion

I still remember the wasabi mashed potatoes. The year was 1993 and I was visiting New York City with my mother, eating at the inimitable Union Square Cafe. The slightly spicy, green-hued potatoes represented the big trend of the day—Asian fusion, a culinary movement defined by its East-meets-West mashup of ingredients and techniques. Union Square Cafe was never even an Asian fusion restaurant, but in the same way that a restaurant today must nod to sustainable ingredients, a restaurant menu in 1993 had to include soy, ginger, or wasabi. (Wolfgang Puck is credited with starting the culinary food style at his Chinois on Main in Santa Monica in 1983.) Before long, every chef was dumping sesame oil on this and infusing lemongrass with that—oftentimes with silly, overly sweet, and complicated results. Though the culinary trend appeared promising in the hands of a capable chef, it had jumped the shark. READ MORE

  • Sakaya Miami Chef Richard Hales mines the Korean pantry for his creative take on Asian-street-food-inspired dishes, including calamari with ssamjang, a spicy paste. What to order: popcorn shrimp ssäm3401 North Miami Avenue; 305-576-8096;

AWARDED: Best Healthful Fast Food – 2010 – (Reposted from The Miami New Times)

Healthful fast food used to be an oxymoron. Nowadays, you would have to be a moron not to have noticed the influx of fresher, more nutritious fare being dished behind counters at a new wave of casual, inexpensive eateries. Sakaya Kitchen, for instance, offers a concise menu of Asian/Southeast Asian goodies such as egg rolls, pork buns, orange/honey-glazed ribs, ginger/scallion noodles, and Korean street foods such as kim chees, Angus beef bulgogi wraps, and spicy chicken wings. Natural meat, poultry, and seafoods are used, as are organic dairy and produce, some culled from local farms. All menu items are made from scratch: meats cured, vegetables pickled, ssamjangs … READ MORE…

REVIEW Miami New Times: Sakaya kitchen, Serious Asian Food with No Frills in Wynwood -  by Lee Klein – April 8, 2010 – (Reposted from The Miami New Times)

High-quality fast food continues to be American gastronomy’s answer to 21st-century economics and tastes. We’re not referring to chains such as Chipotle and its ilk, but rather local, independently owned operations that put out limited menus of global street foods prepared with high-level ingredients and skill. The precursor to this national culinary craze manifested itself in these parts via an explosion of “gourmet” pizza and hamburger joints. Now the gastro trucks, originally popularized years ago in L.A., have pulled into our eager little town, as have the new generation of ethnic counter-service eateries such as Wok Town and Sakaya Kitchen… READ MORE…

REVIEW Miami Herald: “A Fork in the Road” - Asian Street Food at Midtown’s Sakaya Kitchen – by Linda Bladholm – May 27, 2010 – (Reposted from Miami Herald)

A towering man with tattooed arms, Richard Hales looks more like an NBA player than a chef, let alone one with a finely honed Asian sensibility. Yet since December customers have been coming to Sakaya Kitchen at Midtown Miami for his boldly flavored takes on traditional Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese and Japanese snacks.

The name means “sake shop” in Japanese, but Sakaya is more of an izakaya (drinking restaurant) with Asian tapas. A Tampa native whose maternal grandmother is Filipino, Hales was turned onto Asian street food on a trip to Manila when he was 19.

His culinary training was classical, at the French Culinary Institute in New York and in the Manhattan kitchen of Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. A job as wine director at the Mandarin Oriental brought Hales to South Florida in 2001, where he met his Cuban-Venezuelan wife, Jenny. She does the bookkeeping and bakes chocolate chip cookies and mini banana breads for Sakaya.

Prominent in Hales’ arsenal are Korean ingredients such as gochujang (chile paste), fish sauce and kimchi (fiery fermented cabbage) … READ MORE…

REVIEW Food for Thought – Review 1 – by David Rosendorf – February 3, 2010

It is not often that I am at a loss for what to have for dinner. Yet I found myself driving home from work this evening, knowing there was not much in the fridge to cook (yes, there are some pig trotters, but that’s more of a project than a quick Tuesday night meal), pondering: “What’s for dinner tonight?” Fortunately an idea occurred to me before I made it home to the near-empty fridge: Sakaya Kitchen, one of several new places that have recently opened in the Midtown Shops. (While the Five Guys next door has been open for some time, the Cheese Course and Sugarcane Raw Bar have finally come online after extended waits, and Mercadito is supposedly close)… READ MORE…