Restaurant Reviews

Drunken Dragon Fires Up Trendy Korean Barbecue in South Beach

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You'll pay at least $5 more for bibimbap at Drunken Dragon than you would in western Broward, where there's a cluster of more traditional Korean spots, but the version here is just as good. However, if it's Korean barbecue you're after, a 45-minute drive is still your best bet.

Korean barbecue is something of an experience: You char paper-thin slices of marinated protein over a circular grill embedded in the center of your table. Drunken Dragon's dimly lit dining room -- decorated with Asian-themed bric-a-brac and boasting a vaulted ceiling reinforced with hulking oak beams -- has seven barbecue tables, or "ondols," lining walls on either side. You can order barbecue dishes at all of the restaurant's 74 seats, but unless you snag an ondol (you need a minimum of four people), the grilling will be done in the kitchen under the guidance of executive chef Xavier Torres, a Nobu and Dutch alumnus who staged under triple-starred Basque toque Martín Berasategui.

Given such a resumé, one would expect $3-per-piece drunken shrimp to be cooked flawlessly, but they arrived underdone. The succulent crustaceans, marinated in a smoky-sour blend of orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, and Old Bay seasoning, lacked the slight chew that should give way to buttery flesh. A small slab of skirt steak cooked medium-rare oozed its succulent juices like the marbled cap on a dry-aged rib eye. Ask for an extra dish of the refreshing chimichurri, brightened with plenty of lime juice, cilantro, and the sting of Fresno chilies. The barbecue list also includes beef tongue with sesame oil, chicken doused with lemon and soy sauce, and octopus coins with a spicy fermented Gochujang barbecue sauce.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson