Bazi, Michael Pirolo and Jen Chaefsky's foray into Asian cuisine, opens at South Beach's Marlin Hotel (1200 Collins Ave.) on Thursday, September 10.
The restaurant name refers to the ancient system of astrology that forecasts the life paths of every person and controls everyone's destiny, is the culinary destination for the couple behind Macchialina Taverna Rustica, according to Pirolo, who says, “we love this style of food and have been playing with the idea of an Asian concept for years." The main dining room seats 70, and the bar and lounge seats up to 25 additional people. An outdoor patio seats 20, and a private dining room on the mezzanine level of the property can seat up to 16 guests.
Though influenced heavily by the flavors of the Far East, Pirolo stresses that he is not striving for diners to have an exacting, authentic experience, "Bazi is not a traditional restaurant by any means. It’s our take on Asian cuisine but it’s not about replicating a classic dish in every way; it’s about taking classic dishes, honoring their traditions and taking them in a new direction but never losing the heart and soul behind them.” Pirolo says the cuisine doesn't ascribe to a particular region. " We’re using Asian flavors and some traditional techniques and interpreting them in our own way."
Chef Pirolo, along with chef de cuisine Brett Collier, will offer progressive meals in categories like raw or starter, noodles and rice and vegetables, and final destiny. The chef explains the concept. "Bazi means the fourpillars that makes up a person’s destiny. The chef's specialties are your destiny, while the surrounding sections (raw, starters, noodles & rice) are the journey that leads you there. The menu at Bazi is designed as a shared concept. When we created the dishes we made sure they can be mixed and matched in any combination of ways so no matter what you order you’re having a seamless experience."
Dishes, sourced from local farms and purveyors whenever possible, will change with the seasons. Dishes will be accompanied by a trio of sauces made in-house with, "no MSG, nothing from a bottle, no shortcuts." Collier, by the way, has worked at some heavy hitters like 1826, the Bazaar, and at 50 Eggs Restaurant Group establishments.
Starters and raw items include tuna or hamachi sashimi ($18), green papaya salad ($14), Cantonese style Florida shrimp with ginger, chives and Shaoxing wine ($18); short rib buns with pickled vegetables ($15), and pan-seared pork belly gyozas ($14). Noodles include duck udon ($22) and peanut noodles with king crab and Florida shrimp ($28).
Main dishes include a lobster dish with black rice, happy butter and angry foam called Our Fickle Friend ($40) and whole fried snapper, caught fresh off the coast of Islamorada daily ($38).
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Bazi will also offer complete Peking duck dinners, at $96. The three course meal will duck lo mein, and the duck main course, served with Chinese pancakes, pickled melon and traditional Asian toppings. “We are obsessed with Peking duck and it had to be a staple here,” says partner Jen Chaefsky. “It’s a long process to make Peking duck and make it right but it was a must for us." A chef's tasting menu will also be available at $70 per person.
William Rivas will serve as beverage director at Bazi, creating cocktail, sake, and tea service made with JoJo teas. Pirolo says of the Rivas, "We have been a fan of his for years and always spoke about joining forces. Once we got our full liquor license at Macchialina, he was the first person we called."
All guests will be greeted with a complimentary cup of four seasons oolong tea from JoJo Tea Company. Pirolo says the cocktails will, "definitely embrace whimsy and, sometimes, extravagance. There are some classics, to pay homage to the storied Marlin Hotel, and new creations in keeping with the times and tastes. Cocktails include the Text an Uber, served frozen with Don Q rum, ginger syrup, lime, and a 151 floater. The Xiao Qungxin Fashion is made with lemongrass infused bourbon, kalamansi honey and five spice bitters. Other cocktails include a lychee martini with lychee shrub and a lychee sphere and the whiskey and tea highball with apple-infused Scotch, black tea, and apple air.
Bazi will open for dinner nightly at 6 p.m, with the bar opening at 5 p.m.