Short Order knows that when it comes to dining out, few people are pickier than a professional chef. We talk to some of Miami's top chefs to learn about their favorite restaurants in town and the dishes they recommend at each.
Timon Balloo, closing in on his third anniversary as exec chef and partner at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Midtown, has been attracting lots of attention and accolades since the place opened in early 2010. He was named "Miami's Best Up-and-Coming Chef" in Miami New Times' Short Order Awards and "Chef of The Year-Miami" by Eater, and was nominated in Food & Wine's "The People's Best New Chef" competition. Under Balloo's direction, Sugarcane has been named Miami New Times' "Best Restaurant" and Eater's "Restaurant of the Year," and was a semifinalist in the James Beard Foundation's "Best New Restaurant" category.
Clearly, Balloo knows what he's doing in the kitchen. So where does he like to go when he dines out? Short Order asked him to pick his five favorite restaurants in the Miami area, and his favorite dish at each. "Picking just five is hard, because I don't want to offend some of my friends who are doing great work at other restaurants," says the thoughtful chef. So instead, he gave us some of his favorite neighborhood spots in Miami-Dade and Broward:
Boba Station Truck
If bubble tea is for you, this has some of the best around, according to Balloo. "I love their milk tea, made with milk, Chinese black tea and, of course, those large tapioca pearls that give bubble tea its name." Boba Station Truck makes the rounds of Miami; follow them on Facebook and Twitter to see where they'll be next.
Myung Ga Tofu & BBQ
"This little Korean eatery in Weston has one of my favorite dishes," says Balloo. "I always order the Sogogi Soondubu, a hearty hot pot dish made with tofu and beef." Myung Ga used to have a location in Doral, but you can find it in Weston.
Some people swear by Tropical Chinese for dim sum, but Balloo prefers the dim sum at Kon Chau just down the road. "My favorite dish there is ginger and black bean tripe, but their chicken feet in black bean sauce is a close second."
Balloo is a big fan of beef cuts that haven't exactly been embraced (yet) by American diners. At this Vietnamese noodle shop in Lauderdale Lakes, he orders Pho, a classic and hearty soup with star anise and cinnamon-scented broth, noodles, vegetables and beef. "It's got a nice mix of beef parts, including tripe and tendon," Balloo says.
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If you like authentic Jamaican cuisine, this little hole-in-the-wall place right around the corner from Sugarcane is one of the best, says Balloo. "I love their oxtail with rice and peas."