Best Hidden Gem - 2012
Hidden off the street and out of sight, unless you happen to be strolling through the downtown Miami International Jewelry Center mall, Little Lotus sits amid stalls selling flowers, watches, and so forth. Still lost? The place is in the part of the mall directly across the street from Macy's. The gem: a surprisingly large menu of sushi and small Asian plates from owner Sari Maharani, from Jakarta. Rolls range from $3.95 to $15, which is a great deal. Fancier rolls include creative items such as the "Big Mac" — a crunchy spicy tuna with snow "krab" ($13.95). Other specialties include yaki tori, yaki udon, grilled eel, trigger fish jerky, salad with four types of seaweed, nasi rames (as a nod to the owner's Indonesian roots), and diced taro in coconut milk syrup for dessert. Lunch specials are just $7.95 and include dishes such as spicy braised beef with coconut, and fried Singapore rice noodles. "Japanese Amazing Lunch" ($8.50 to $13.50) includes sushi, sashimi, or a teriyaki bento box. This 40-seater (with some of the tables lined up in the mall hallway) serves delicious, well-priced Asian fare. Plus if you're in the Brickell or downtown area, Little Lotus will deliver — meaning they'll have to find you.