Peking Turkey for Thanksgiving? Yep, you heard right. Bazi Miami, an Asian-inspired restaurant in South Beach opened by an Italian Chef was offering an Asian Thanksgiving and I fell for it. A pretty daring challenge since duck is a very fatty bird and turkey is not! If you’ve never had Peking Duck, it’s all about the crispy skin, more about this later. To top it all, my hubby was willing to sacrifice his once a year all time favorite dinner to experience an Asian Thanksgiving with me, what a guy!
Here’s how our dinner unfolded…
I had put in a request for dark meat only, PLEASE! So when Justin, the manager greeted us and starts off by saying, we got your request and just to let you know, the chef has put all the dark meat into the turkey wontons for the soup dish, gulp, we were REALLY anxious, I mean really ANXIOUS!
1st Course: Turkey Wonton Soup…pure heaven, you could taste all the turkey goodness, so I totally got why the chef decided to use dark meat in this dish! But we needed more soup and a little hotter. In Asia, soup is served piping hot, especially for my hubby, he must’ve been Chinese in his previous life (that’s what my mom said when she first met him.) On hind sight, it was the perfect amount because it would have filled us up.
While waiting for our 2nd course, Jen (the GM) sent over Tuna Tataki lettuce wrap appetizer with jicama and creamy wasabi, a little flavor burst to get us going! Delightful. Jen has the finger on the pulse of what’s happening at Bazi, socializing here and there, and keeping us all happy, we loved her energy and smile.
2nd Course & 3rd Course came together…XO Long Green Beans, Sweet Potato Dumplings, Brussel Sprouts with Lemon Foam, Wasabi Mashed Potatoes (no photo, too busy eating), my hubby added the creamy wasabi from Tuna Tataki cause he likes his mash extra spicy!
I couldn’t believe all night, he never once mentioned there was no stuffing? For him, it’s not Thanksgiving if there’s no stuffing. Maybe the sweet potato dumplings were the stuffing replacement, they were out of this world good. So were the long green beans with xo sauce, it’s a very classic Chinese dish and they didn’t put a spin on this at all. Just enough crunch but still tender. I let hubby have most of the brussel sprouts cause they’re his favorite.
If you’ve never had Peking Duck, it’s the most fun dish. It’s eaten three ways: first, the whole duck is brought to you and the crispy skin is carved off, I was so impressed with how fast they carved, I videotaped it when I was last in Hong Kong. The skin is eaten with pancakes slathered with hoisin sauce and slivers of chives and cucumber. Next up, soup made from the duck bones and meat and lastly, shredded duck meat with veggies and noodles, YUMMY! Bazi Miami does serve Peking Duck on their a la carte menu and it’s farm raised. Salivating just thinking about it and one of these days, we’ll have to treat ourselves to it.
About the Peking Turkey…
Turkey doesn’t have that nice layer of fat under the skin that duck has which keeps even the white meat moist and was the reason for our anxiety. However, the turkey breasts were not dry but quite tender and tasty and we think it’s because they’re farm raised turkeys, yay. There was a nice portion for two.
I noticed the turkey skin was separated from the white meat which tells me they cooked it separately, very wise because crisping up the skin still attached to the flesh would’ve dried out the white meat. The skin wasn’t as crispy as I had hoped but I truly appreciated their efforts.
The scallion pancakes were the right consistency, very light and bouncy, served warm wrapped in a napkin, good job! The pickled ginger was a refreshing and nice contrast to the sweet Hoisin Sauce. It’s not normally served with Peking Duck, so I appreciated this little twist.
4th Course: Sweet Rubies – jackfruit, dragon fruit, papaya & coconut cream
Bazi Ices – pineapple rum ice, guava sauce, mint custard, kiwi, white chocolate puffed rice
We decided to go light after pigging out and so relieved they had fresh fruit, not just any fruit, they were tropical, exotic fruit and were a perfect end and very cooling.
Here’s a bit about Bazi Miami’s concept…
So, why did Italian Chef Michael Pirolo (chef/owner of Macchialina) and his managing partner, Jen Chaefsky want to open an Asian-inspired restaurant in South Beach? They love to cook Asian at home and as Chef Michael explains, “Bazi is a place you can come for your fanciest celebration dinner and go all out or stop by for a bowl of noodles & a beer at the bar on your way home. It’s here for everyone and every occasion.” We actually witnessed a couple next to us doing just that, they had more cocktails than food!
I admire a chef who would stick his neck out and experiment with a style of cooking that he wasn’t trained in. In my books, he’s a WOK STAR, someone who’s not afraid of breaking the rules and putting his personal spin on it. I love that!
Chef Michael and Jen were lucky finding Chef de Cuisine, Brett Collier who honed his skills at the Bazaar and 50 Eggs and able to execute their philosophy of Bazi, meaning the four pillars of one’s destiny. A menu that’s family style where you can mix and match and completely complements one another. They like to call it Asian classics with a modern twist. Bazi is inside the legendary art deco Marlin Hotel, right on the main drag in South Beach with parking garage across the street, how convenient. They’ve revamped it, 1930’s Hong Kong style with dragons and gold accents but modern and sleek looking. We’ve dined at Bazi once before and already familiar with their Asian-inspired menu, so we felt confident their Asian Thanksgiving would be just as good! I’ve also experienced Chef Michael Pirolo’s delicious Italian cooking at Macchialina on Alton Road and recently at a private catered event. Interestingly enough, in recent months, I had been experimenting with Asian Fusion Italian cooking in my wok. I wanted to illustrate how a wok can be used for all styles of cooking and actually gave a class on Asian Fusion Italian, you can find out more about it here.
What a hugely successful Asian Thanksgiving dinner at Bazi Miami and glad we didn’t turn our nose up at turkey breasts! Bazi, we like what you’re doing, keep it up!
I highly recommend dining at Bazi Miami for a cozy evening with a wait staff that’s well trained and personable. There’s a wonderful ambience and the music is not so loud you can’t talk, that’s my pet peeve. The food is exciting and well executed and tell them Wok Star sent you!
P.S. our fav table for 2 is the round one on the right beside the stairwell, the Feng Shui is right on, a power table, you can view everything. Just don’t be sitting at our table when we go!
Full disclosure: we paid for our Thanksgiving dinner but our first dinner at Bazi was complimentary.