by Sang Kim
Azul at the Mandarin Oriental
The first thing you see as you walk into the restaurant is its open kitchen, which sets the mood for the first-class offerings at Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. The kitchen is modern and chic and as you walk further into the restaurant, floor to ceiling windows offer a panoramic vision of Miami’s bay area. The transparency is a theme in the décor leaving Azul chefs and the city skyline of Miami to be visually consumed.
The experience of the meal was another showcase of the restaurant and Miami. The menu at Azul is just as eclectic as the city. We started with oysters and snow crabs, which seemed fitting, while sitting practically next to the water. The oysters were beautifully prepared with tiny hibiscus flowers in each. The seafood portion was not overdressed because there was no need to! The menu at Azul lets the ingredients shine.
As the meal went on, many more scrumptious dishes were in store. The spring risotto evoked spring with its ying yang of green herbs and micro greens paired with the pale yellow risotto. It was a wonderful balance of spring flavors – earthy and creamy all at once. The entrees felt whole; for example, the duck entrée featured several preparations: confit and seared. The lamb featured lamb rack, loin, and meatball. The granzino dish was delicately poached but left mostly whole. The steak was perfectly executed. The entrées were very thoughtful in this way. And, if all that was not enough, the dessert was to die for. The desserts look like modern sculptures. The hazelnut cake was so light it almost tasted of hazelnut air in a cake shape with mango-vanilla sorbet.
On our visit, we were fortunate enough to meet the chef of Azul, Jacob Anaya. His resume includes work at top restaurants across the nation and globe. They range from Seattle to Australia. His talents have found a perfect home in Miami, a city that is just as diverse as Chef Anaya’s training.
The wine sommelier was knowledgeable and very helpful. For such a diverse meal and group, she was able to find a perfect wine for us. It actually came from one of Mandarin Oriental’s vineyards. Don’t let that fool you, though. Azul offers hundreds of world class wines.