In grand Miami tradition, Wynwood, like so many in-demand neighborhoods, seems to be becoming increasingly inhospitable to local businesses as developers trade and speculate land to the point where few businesses other than those with the deepest pockets can survive. There have been some bright spots, though, and late last month, Hollywood's GoBistro
opened on 25th Street. The eatery dishes out steamed buns filled with pork belly ($11) and soft-shell crab ($12), a panoply of the far-from-traditional sushi that Miamians seem to adore, and, best of all, ramen (a second choice to 1-800-Lucky
's Hayato) in four formats, and nearly all are priced at a reasonable $15.
Here, the specialty is tonkotsu, a pork-based broth that requires the hard boiling of bones to liquify the attached fat and sinew. The process creates a rich, creamy broth that sticks to the lips and warms the soul.
Owner Andrew Gong's ramen chops come from the years he spent working with Momi Ramen
's Jeffrey Z. Chen in helping to open the Brickell noodle shop. Gong, who is 34 and can be found working the sushi counter late at night, had little restaurant experience other than serving for a catering operation and holding a business degree, but he and Chen hit it off after being introduced by a mutual friend. Soon they were headed on a plane bound for Japan to buy and learn how to use the noodle machine that produced the thick, wavy strands that quickly became Momi's signature.
Eventually, Chen and Gong parted ways, and the latter, with a few partners, launched a small Asian restaurant empire in Broward County that, along with GoBistro, includes GoBento, Poke & Go in Aventura, and, one of their most recent, Go Gai in Hollywood, which specializes in that many incomparable ways chicken is prepared across Asia.
Behold GoBistro's buns.
Courtesy of GoBistro
But back to the ramen. As one might expect, Gong closely guards his secret. What's in the tonkotsu? Pork bones. What's in the miso ramen? Miso — although it is thinned with that tonkotsu ramen broth, and if you're a vegetarian, there's a meat-free broth too. Such practice is commonplace in the ramen business, where any hope of discerning a shop's recipes means one must hope the spot's stockpot simmers in plain sight and one can get a peak of its contents. For the spicy curry ramen ($15), the thick tonkotsu broth is spiked with coconut milk and an aggressive red curry paste that could snap even the sloppiest drunken tourist back to reality. The noodles are of medium thickness, wavy and perfectly cooked. The char siu is thickly sliced with a nice balance of fat and meat, and the soy-marinated egg yolk is a creamy wonder. For those in search of a lighter experience, the shoyu vegetable ($15) is a solid choice, with a light, soy-based broth filled with scallions, bamboo shoots, enoki mushrooms, and the briny black-green sheets of seaweed called nori.
If soup isn't your thing, there's also GoBistro's avocado fries ($8), which have earned a cult following; crispy pork gyoza ($8); and Korean-style gangam wings ($11). The kitchen has also begun turning out a variety of yakitori such as beef tenderloin skewers, chicken, and aged tofu ($2 to $6).
And if Wywnood has become a bit too much for you, simply bide your time until GoBistro opens in Little Havana. Gong and partner Niti Masintapan have secured a space on SW Eighth Street at 19th Avenue, in the InTown Apartments building.
GoBistro. 315 NE 25th St., Miami; 786-332-3597; eatgobistro.com. Daily 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.