Hot Plates: Camille Austin at Hakkasan
Camille Austin at Hakkasan.
Photo by Jacquelynn D. Powers
The moody, sexy, gourmet Hakkasan is known for its upscale Chinese cuisine and grownup cocktails. Bartender Camille Austin, 24, trained under a master mixologist from London for six months for the gig, and her handiwork behind the bar is quite impressive. The Cancun native has been pouring lychee libations since Hakkasan's debut last April. She gave Short Order some tips on what pairs well with dim sum and why she is a doppelganger for Bettie Page.
New Times: What is the sexiest item on Hakkasan's menu?
Camille Austin: My favorite dish is the jasmine tea smoked ribs. They are amazing. They are marinated for three days, and the meat just falls off the bone. I also love the yellowtail snapper. It's a savory dish, but it's light. And if you have a nice group to share it with you can't go wrong with the Peking duck.
What are some of the specialty cocktails at Hakkasan?
I love tequila. I'm a tequila girl. So, I love the Pink Mojito, which we do with tequila instead of rum. It also has cranberry juice. Another favorite is the Bitter Fortune, which has gin, aperol and grapefruit juice. The Hakka is very fruity with passion fruit, lychee juice, vodka, sake and coconut.
What type of cocktail pairs well with Chinese food?
Anything with exotic fruits and herbs like lychee, passion fruit, mango, ginger and cilantro. You could do also do a nice rose or any type of earthy wine. Chinese food has bold flavors, so you don't want the wine to overpower the meal.
Do you serve food at the bar?
People eat at the bar all of the time. We only have 11 seats at the bar, and it's been really busy. We don't have enough seats to keep up with the demand.
How often are you hit on? How do you handle lecherous customers?
We're hit on all the time. I like to play it cool; I joke around with them. No one has stepped out of line, though. It's a restaurant not a club.
What is your style?
I'm into the pinup look, I love the Bettie Page look. I always have to have on bright red lipstick. That's a must.
Describe the scene at Hakkasan.
It's very posh and I love it. We have many regulars. In fact, we have more regulars than hotel guests. People who come here enjoy food. And they enjoy a well-made, fresh cocktail. We have a great DJ on the weekends. It's very Londonesque.
How do you unwind after work?
I go out for a drink. My favorite spot is the Florida Room. They make great, fresh cocktails there, too.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Miami dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.