10. Moon Thai & Japanese Cuisine
For newcomers to this casual Coral Gables outpost, offerings from not one but two menus have proven to be a bit overwhelming. Located across the street from the University of Miami at 1118 S. Dixie Highway, Moon Thai & Japanese Cuisine serves a chock-full of budget-friendly Asian delights. Start your Southeast Asian culinary journey with
9. Nikko by Sunshine
A great contribution to the dining options in Brickell, master chef Sunchai "Sunshine" Naknoon's 50-seat eatery adds a modern yet whimsical touch to cross-cultural Asian cuisine from Japan, China, and Thailand – Sunshine's home country. At Nikko (186 SE 12th Ter.), expect to find art in the form of bento-style plates, intricate food carvings, inventive sushi rolls and fruit embellishments too beautiful to eat. But once you get past the artistry and into the first bite, robust flavors and textures will soon take over. Try the roasted duck ($20) with crisp skin and juicy meat paired alongside tasty Thai fried rice ($17). And for heaven on earth, Sunshine's warm and fluffy Thai donuts ($8) dipped in sweet condensed milk are the perfect ending to a savory meal.
8. Lotus Garden
This laid-back joint at 318 Miracle Mile continues to lure locals in with its wide selection of inexpensive menu items and light crowds even on a Friday night. Minus the outdated decor, Lotus Garden blossoms in their house specialties like Myra's Pond ($22.95), snapper chunks seasoned in wine sauce and ginger, served on a bed of string beans and clear noodles that are steamed, and their stand-out dish, the Jumbo Shrimp a la King ($17.95), succulent jumbo shrimps doused in egg, ginger, sweet pepper, scallions and a pinch of chili.
7. Lung Yai Thai Tapas
Not even six months since its opening, this snug Little Havana haven has been bringing the heat to Calle Ocho. Hot, salty, sweet and sour flavors wake up taste buds with affordable dishes like seafood noodle soup and spicy curries loaded with your choice of meat or vegetables. If you choose to dine alfresco, hanging lights and wooden picnic tables welcome patrons as they slurp on chef-recommended stunners such as the khao
6. Thai House II Restaurant
Asian tea house-style décor, friendly waiters, and traditional Thai food at this always-busy North Miami Beach establishment keep regulars coming back for a unique, homelike experience. Nestled at 2250 NE 163rd St., Thai House II boasts lunch and dinner options at exceptional prices for the quality of food served. The barbecue chicken satay ($11.25) with creamy peanut sauce is a hit starter, while the duck curry ($24.25), a deep-fried half duck drenched in Thai curry, coconut milk, pineapple, baby corn, sweet peas, zucchini, and carrots, leaves a palatable impression. And if it's your birthday, enjoy live singing and dancing – tambourines and drums included – by the entire staff to celebrate.