Before I even arrived in Miami for Thanksgiving my mother informed me that we would be eating at a restaurant my first night in town (Wednesday) to, "Give your father a break before the holiday." Translation - we'll allow Dad one evening out of the kitchen before we banish him there for three days to feed us the food we've been dreaming of all year.
I got to choose the restaurant and I selected Yuga, a Japanese place in Coral Gables.
We arrived around 8:00pm and there were only three or four other tables that were occupied. Yuga's decor is very simple. The walls are a bright shade of honeydew melon and each dark wood table is garnished with one small vase of red carnations.
There were four of us around the table and we each received a menu and Yuga branded chopsticks. Confession: I don't know how to eat with chopsticks. I've embarrassed myself on many a date pretending that I do, but clearly the jig is up.
To get in the spirit of the evening my dad ordered a Kirin Ichiban beer. You can see him in the photo below being very impatient as I photographed his libation. He really wanted that beer.
Since I was in town for a feast themed weekend, we decided to start it off right and order half of the appetizers on the menu. Our first dish was baby green beans tossed in roasted sesame sauce and garnished with white and black sesame seeds.
The dish was served cold and had the perfect amount of sesame flavor both from the sauce and the crunch from the seeds.
The next appetizer was the tuna sandwiches which were grilled tuna, mayonnaise, scallion and masago served between rice and seaweed. The sandwiches are battered and fried then drizzled with a soy glaze. My father said, "These are a great combo of crunchy and chewy textures. I love the tempura taste from the batter."
We also ordered the vegetarian spring rolls which were served in rice paper as opposed to the traditional crispy shell. The rolls were stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, avocado, fried tofu, rice noodles and fresh herbs. The rolls arrived on a sea of black bean sauce.
The final plate of round one was the roasted eggplant and tofu salad. No one particularly liked this dish except for my father, so we subtly pushed the dish towards his corner of the table.
For dinner we decided to pick two carnivore dishes and two vegetarian dishes. Though my grandmother is still in complete denial that I don't eat meat, my parents are very accommodating.
The first dish to arrive was the Korean short ribs. These ribs were off the bone, which is unusual. My mother described them as, "Juicy, flavorful and delicious. I'd like to eat these every week!"
Next to arrive were the lemon black bean prawns, which was jumbo shrimp served over chopped asparagus. Our family friend picked out this dish and he said, "The shrimp were cooked very well. They were tasty, but not too spicy and I loved the asparagus."
Then came the ma po tofu, a dish of silken tofu, mushrooms, snow peas and spinach in a spicy bean sauce. I loved the heat in the sauce and the whole dish tasted amazing spooned over brown rice.
Now, I have saved the best dish for last. Our fourth entree choice was the miso ramen. Before this dinner, my only experience with ramen was the kind you buy in bulk in the supermarket and make in your college dorm room in a hot pot.
This ramen was magnificent. It came in a bowl the size of a soup pot and the broth was the most delicious host to fresh egg noodles, tofu steak, bok chou, snow peas and mushrooms.
These noodles were miles long! Our waiter brought us a huge ladle to serve the ramen from the large bowl into personal bowls and you had to lift the ladle at least a solid foot above the bowl to get to the end of even one noodle.
We each had a smaller bowl for our own personal ramen. After one spoonful of this dish, all four of us abandoned what we had been noshing on to turn our full focus to the ramen. You heard it hear first, I will never eat supermarket ramen again. I have been ramen enlightened.
After this incredible Japanese feast, I took a surprise out from my bag and placed it in the center of the table. The night before flying to Miami I picked up my November CSC from EHChocolatier. Rather than devour it myself (as I did with my October share), I decided not to open it and save it for tonight's dinner.
We opened the box and shared this month's treats together. We also gave pieces to our waiter, the waitress in the next section and the restaurant owner.
Dinner at Yuga was the perfect way to start my long weekend in Miami. I am now officially on a quest to find new, amazing, ramen places.
Other than Wagamama, do you know of any places that serve exceptional ramen in Boston?