Minty Z is a fresh addition to the diverse culinary community of Coconut Grove, offering plant-based Asian fusion plates with a focus on dim sum.
Located just across the street from the Grove's post office on Grand Avenue, the full-service, bistro-style restaurant opened in December 2020, giving the 305 a much-needed solution to an absence of vegan dim sum options across Miami.
Minty Z is a creation by ex-New Yorkers Alex Falco, the executive chef behind the delicious vegan dishes, and his wife Minty Zhu whom the restaurant is creatively named after. Deciding to leave New York with the purpose of opening their own business, the couple landed in Miami in the summer of 2018 and began to cook up ideas for their new venture.
With over ten years of restaurant experience plus a business and culinary degree from Oxford University, the 31-year-old chef Falco contemplated many plant-based gastronomic schemes, from a food truck to a Mediterranean-focused menu, before settling on an Asian fusion style inspired by Zhu's family history.
"When we started going out to eat after living here a while, we realized we couldn't eat Asian food anymore because there's no options for us," shares Falco, commenting on Miami's need for vegan Asian food.
"Asian food has a lot of varieties and we had this passion to create something new," adds Zhu, who takes on the restaurant's administrative responsibilities.
Falling in love with the quirky neighborhood and friendly locals, the couple jumped at the opportunity to sign a lease once the restaurant location became available. "The locals appreciate having something new in general," shares Falco.
There was one slight hiccup to their plans.
When signing the lease, Falco and Zhu weren't aware that the Asian-focused vegan restaurant Planta Queen, a sister to Planta in South Beach, would open in CocoWalk — just a few blocks away from their dream location. The duo proceeded with their plans, with the mindset that healthy competition is good.
"It makes us want to do better," Zhu claims. The couple reports that their little restaurant has expanded its hours since opening in order to accommodate more guests, and the teams in the kitchen and on the floor have grown.
"We've had good feedback on replicating flavors and textures of the proteins like the vegan shrimp or prosperity beef," says Falco. "But we've gotten more feedback about how we don't rely on those things. We're not just about replacing meat here."
"Everything is created on our own," notes Zhu. The vegan couple took their time to conceptualize the menu while cooped up during the pandemic, resulting in one-of-a-kind menus for lunch, dinner, and brunch.
Served Wednesdays through Fridays, lunch specials allow diners to order one choice of dim sum, a salad, a bowl or banh mi option, plus sangria to wash it down for $34. The weekend brunch menu is similar to lunch, with the addition of gluten-free matcha pancakes topped with strawberries and agave.
The longer dinner menu, offered Wednesday through Monday, features small starter plates such as sesame seitan wings, rice or tofu bowls, and veggie-focused plates such as the spicy cauliflower kimchi dish, or barbecue Chinese eggplant.
The most impressive section on the dinner menu is the long list of dim sum options, including a variety of bao buns, wontons, shumai, avocado spring rolls, "beef" gyoza, and many more ($10 to $14). The dumpling feast ($36) offers a chance to try a bit of everything.
A vegan dim sum omakase is also available ($72 per person) and includes a seven-course tasting menu of the restaurant's best sellers.
To top it off, Minty Z features an ever-changing dessert menu of sweets created by Falco who's always experimenting with new ideas and recipes. Currently available are bao beignets, matcha crème brûlée, chocolate ganache dumplings, and a sesame bubble sundae.
And if you needed an excuse to pull you in, "Wonton Wednesdays" feature one-dollar wontons and 50 percent off the mushroom wonton soup.
"People who walk around — even if they're not vegans, they see that there's a new place with a new concept and they become interested in trying it," says Falco.
Although Minty Z is "proud to be a completely vegan establishment," a motif that can be found printed on the menu, the restaurant welcomes all types of food fanatics to experience the plant-based dishes, whether they're vegan or not.
"Some people aren't accepting of the vegan concept yet, but I really want to tell those people to give it a try, it's not going to hurt," says Zhu.
Minty Z. 3206 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove; 786-409-7151; mintyz.com. Lunch Wednesday through Friday noon to 4 p.m.; dinner Monday 5:30 to 10 p.m., Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday 5:30 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11 p.m.; brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.