Beyond The Best Of Miami 2011: Top Five Animal Parts

We christened pig ears as our ultimate animal part in the New Times' Best of Miami 2011 issue, naming a tie between chefs Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine) and Timon Balloo (Sugarcane). But there are plenty of other parts we love, of course, so here's our list of the other restaurants who make offal something to shout about.

5. The chicken feet ($5) at Tropical Chinese are darkly lacquered with a black bean sauce, and while they do look a bit creepy, like little legs, they taste just like...chicken. It's not really so different than eating a wing really, which are buffalo-ed up and served by the millions. If you desire to be adventurous, Tropical is the place to do it. The food here is as close as Miami gets to a Chinatown restaurant in San Fran. Go for dim sum on Sundays, but get there early. This place is packed and wait times can be treacherous.

4. The "chicken liver itame" ($7) at Hiro's Yakko-San is surprisingly tasty, even for non-liver lovers. Lumps of liver are stir-fried in a wok (stir-fry is actually what itame means in Japanese) Fresh chive and bean sprouts cover the plate, providing a nice opposing taste in between bites. Now bigger digs ensure a quicker route to the table, less waiting in line equals happy fans in the neighborhood.

3. The roasted Florida grouper cheeks ($23) at Tudor House are delightful nuggets of that prized little soft spot on a fish. This plate is a visual stunner, with multi-hued chunks of cauliflower and mini pearl onions. A romesco sauce finishes things off without overwhelming the fish flesh, making it truly delicious. Fish don't really smile, so they don't need those cheeks anyway.

2. Sugarcane makes our list twice, because those pig ears may be tasty, but

the roasted bone marrow with veal cheek marmalade ($15) simply cannot

be ignored. First you scoop out a gelatinous glob of fatty marrow, then

usher a little of what looks like short ribs, on to your spoon (highly

recommend you farrow out the marrow with a fork, and then transfer to a

spoon before piling on the "marmalade," more good stuff in one bite!).

It's smushy and meaty and undeniably delicious - the entrance to an

animal part equivalent of a cave of wonders.

1. The sweetbreads ($17) at Michy's are firm on the inside, crispy on the outside, and are the prettiest thymus glands we've ever seen on a plate. Plus, the other flavor components rotate with the season, so it's almost like eating an entirely new dish every time. Right now they are being served "Milanesa" style, with black eyed peas with a hint of smoky bacon, cippolini onions and apples, then drizzled with a cider gastrique. We've eaten them with a dusting of fennel in a carrot-orange sauce, we've eaten them with fresh fava beans, and we've eaten them cassoulet-style; we'd even eat them with green eggs and ham. We are very happy that sweetbreads are always on the menu (particularly since they are not exactly as popular in Miami as say, croquettas). So, thank you Chef Bernstein.

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