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Phuket "Cake" Thongsodchareondee inside Cake Thai in Wynwood.
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Phuket "Cake" Thongsodchareondee inside Cake Thai in Wynwood.

Cake Thai

Phuket Thongsodchareondee followed his father, Tawin, into the kitchen, and in doing so is cooking Miami's most vibrant, exciting Thai food. It all began when Phuket, who goes by the nickname Cake, was 6 or 7, and his dad taught him to make a fluffy Thai fried omelet doused with fish sauce and white pepper. To this day, however, it's his father's pork soup, kway teow tom yum, that's on the menu. At Cake's pumpkin-orange restaurant, the process starts early each day when the chef or one of his cooks enters the compact, subway-tile-lined kitchen, throws on some hip-hop, fills a huge pot with water, and spikes it with garlic, black pepper, and cilantro root. Whereas his dad used almost every part of the pig, Cake uses the trotters, along with chicken feet and pork belly, to give the broth a rich, fatty texture. Then come crushed peanuts and fried peppers, a gulp of lime juice, and fish sauce. Poached ground pork and sliced pork loin are piled atop a knot of rice noodles that begin to soften and uncurl. They soon prove to be just the right vehicle for a broth that slowly sets your mouth to burning. The sliced pork gives the dish enough heft to make it a full meal, while the sour elements and crisp pig skin balance each other with precision. The soup's tang might be off-putting to some, but it's elegantly balanced and maintains the spirit of the food his father taught him to cook so many years ago.