Chino-Latino No Go

Here’s a sound machine for Gloria Estefan: the cash register — Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Duck is also available atop one of the designer pizzas, mixed with a medley of mushrooms, scallions, shredded carrots, mozzarella cheese, and hoisin sauce. I passed on this one — sounded too much like something a Survivor contestant would be forced to eat — and went with the margherita pie, which was burdened by an overly crackerlike crust rim but otherwise savorily sauced and satisfyingly cheesy.

"Latin pad thai" wasn't bad either; the usual mix of rice noodles, peanut sauce, and "Asian veggies" (in this case scallions, carrots, and peppers) was tossed with plump shrimp and squares of chicken breast that were a little overcooked. The Latin infusion comes via chorizo, which contributed a welcome hint of smokiness. While I'm stressing Oriente's positives, let me add that the kitchen crew here presses a heckuva good Cuban sandwich, nicely crisped bread heftily filled with roast pork, ham, mustard, and pickles — and skewered closed with toothpicks bearing large Spanish green olives.

A mojito-glazed twelve-ounce New York strip is plated with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a grilled tomato, and another crisp fried plantain — not particularly alluring accompaniments, and even less so for $29. You can save a ten-spot by choosing Mongolian beef steak instead, but I wouldn't necessarily suggest doing so. The portion of skirt steak, cut into meaty strips and piled into a large white bowl, was inarguably generous (as are all of the entrées, most of which go for less than $20). But the meat was too heavily marinated in soy and overbearing spices. And although a pair of chopsticks and a Chinese take-out container of fried rice on the side make for a clever presentation, the rice was pale, weak, and mushy — as lifeless as Fidel.

JOE ROCCO

Location Info

Map

Oriente at Cardozo

1300 Ocean Dr
Miami Beach, FL 33139-4210

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: South Beach

Details

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sunday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8:00 a.m. to midnight
Cardozo Hotel, 1300 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach; 305-695-2822

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As if dulce de leche cheesecake weren't sweet enough with its thick center of caramelized milk between layers of cream-cheesy fluff, Oriente's signature dessert also comes with a puff of canned, sweetened whipped cream on top, another puff to the side, and is drizzled with a different iridescent red goo, this one's flavor suggestive of Robitussin cough syrup. Another offering, fried cheesecake with guava sauce, is at least original, which is more than one can say for the rest of the lineup of key lime pie, chocolate fudge cake, and crême brulée.

The only sound machine in Gloria and Emilio's lives nowadays is the cash register — Ka-ching! Ka-ching! — each time a tourist takes a seat at Bongos or Casa Larios or Oriente. Actually I'm not at all sure what kind of cut the couple ekes from these eateries, but whatever it is can't be worth the embarrassment they must feel whenever they think of real Cuban people, lured by the Estefan name, actually eating in one of these establishments. Then again, that's easily enough solved: They probably never think of this at all. Oriente is where Cuba meets the Far East, all right — and together they decide to dine someplace else.

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