First Bites

Vagabond Offers New Lunch Menu: Try the Tsukune Sandwich

Since its opening less than a year ago, the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar has challenged Miami's palates with everything from chapulines, which are spicy Mexican grasshoppers served with peanuts, to pan-seared beef hearts. Under the care of executive chef Alex Chang, the kitchen has turned out food that's colorful, playful, and exploratory. 

Now the Vagabond has introduced a new lunch menu featuring well-thought-out salads and sandwiches. Chef Chang says he designed the menu for guests to have a completely different experience from the one at dinner, with foods that are more streamlined for daytime dining. That's not to say the food isn't interesting. Chang's new menu still incorporates his trademark global influences, with surprising flavor profiles in even the most straightforward dishes. 

New Times was invited to sample some of the dishes on the new menu, which is served Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

Start with an order of avocado toast for the table. Served on Zak the Baker bread, the avocado is sprinkled with grated pecorino for zest ($6). 

Sea island pea salad is served with cubanelle pepper, celery, and goat cheese ($9). 

Smoked fish huarache with salsa campechana and lime ($10) is a creamy, bold take on the classic fish dip and crackers. 

Tabbouleh salad with couscous, red Russian kale, cauliflower, and lemon ($10) is a light, bright option that won't leave you feeling heavy the rest of the day.

Vegetarians seeking something more substantial will crave the whole-wheat vegetable roti, filled with chickpeas and fermented potatoes ($12).

The star of the menu is the tsukune sandwich ($14). This Japanese chicken meatball sub was inspired by that country's yakitori. The meatballs, topped with nori mayo and pickled cucumbers, rest on a toasted sub. The sandwich is served with Asian potato salad and is big enough for sharing (although you'd be hard-pressed to find someone willing to give up part of this sandwich). 

Why not have dessert at lunch? Date scones, served with honey butter ($4), are a sensible way to end a meal. They're also a solid side dish when paired with a salad.

The yuzu lemon bars ($3) are tart and summery. They're a great alternative to Miami's now-staid Key lime pie.

If you're going all out, try the tres leches with roselle sorbet ($10). The bright-red roselle is a cousin of the hibiscus and has a tangy, plum-like flavor.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss