Manny Sulbaran is making one of the best soups in Miami.
It starts with a chocolate-hued mushroom broth that's infused with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, star anise, kaffir lime, and a touch of soy. It's filled out with egg noodles, cabbage, herbs, crispy garlic, and a soft-boiled egg. It can be enhanced with pork belly, duck, brisket, pork shoulder, or chicken thigh for another $4, though it's perfect without them.
Several years ago Sulbaran, who is 45, was known as
Eventually, Manny was moved to open the first location of what is now Schwartz's Genuine Pizzeria in the Design District. Then, he left, seeming to vanish into the traffic-racked abyss that is Doral. For the last few years, his pocket-sized lunch spot Bubble Cafe & Tea Lounge, which was awarded best inexpensive restaurant back in 2017, has catered to the surrounding community and office workers with sandwiches, salads, wraps, pastries, and occasional plated dishes featuring thoughtfully prepared proteins and vegetables reminiscent of his days working with Schwartz.
Lately, it hasn't been working out, so he retrofitted the restaurant and revamped the menu to an Asian concept that pulls flavors from the region's east and southeast. New Times was invited for a look.
Alongside the soup come spring rolls with
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The other main attractions here are the pairs of bao buns and baguette sandwiches ($8) filled with everything from pork belly and roasted duck to braised brisket and pork bánh mì. The duck, which is best tucked into a fluffy steamed bun, combines the tender juiciness you expect of Peking and roast duck with the aromatic notes of French confit. Taiwanese pork belly comes crowned with house pickled mustard greens, crushed peanut brittle, cilantro, and Kewpie mayonnaise, while the pork shoulder in the bánh mì sandwich is roasted for six hours in a blend of five spices, soy, and ginger. In lieu of the baguette, Sulbaran opts here for a toasted hoagie roll that does an OK job of rounding out a sandwich but doesn't quite mimic the city's best, which can be found at Ani Meinhold and Cesar Zapata's Phuc Yea.
"We wanted something that would be crispy, but also with a bit of fluffiness to absorb the juices of all the meats," Sulbaran said. "If you look closely, you'll see ingredients and flavors from all parts of Asia being blended here, and we're trying to respect them and put them together in the right way."
Bubble Cafe & Tea Lounge. 11402 NW 41st St., Doral; 305-722-0501; mkt.com/bubblecafe.