It’s no secret that good Asian food offerings in Miami are few and far between. The best are usually too expensive and the worst are most often grossly Americanized (or in Miami’s case, Cubanized) takes on cultural cuisine. So, when I hear about new restaurants being described as “authentic” my interest generally gets piqued pretty darn quickly. Such was the case with Cake Thai Kitchen, a new take on Thai street food, from former Makoto cook, Phuket “Cake” Thongsodchareondee.
I love a good hole-in-the-wall restaurant and this place certainly fits that bill. If you’re able to get past the tight quarters, mismatched seating, and garage sale silverware, you’re usually in for a quality meal. Throw in just the right amount of grease and grime and a location on the border of one up-and-coming and one bad neighborhood, and you’re definitely good to go. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no shade being thrown here: Cake Thai Kitchen offers up a damn good meal.
Upon arrival to Cake Thai Kitchen, I was greeted by May, the cutest hostess/cashier/waitress who just happens to be Cake’s mom (sidenote: Cake was nicknamed because that was his mom’s favorite pregnancy craving… He was born to be a foodie!). After a quick chat and an even quicker look at the chalkboard menu, I threw caution to the wind, asked May what she recommended, and off we went…
To start, however, I needed some refreshment. It was a hot day and let’s just say the A/C wasn’t really doing the trick. But the Chrysanthemum and Thai Teas provided a nice respite – light, cool, and not too sweet.
When it comes down to the food menu, there are nine sections: Salad, Fried, Grilled, Rice, Noodle, Wok, Vegetable, Curry, Soup, and Desserts. As much as I would have liked to try something from all nine, but my stomach could only handle six (don’t judge.).
First up, from the Salad section: Green Papaya Salad. A classic, yet always delicious choice. The mix of papaya, tomato, long beans, peanut, and lime never fails to delight with just a hint of spice to awaken your palate.
Next, I went for the Tiger Prawn from the Grilled section. Super simple, perfectly grilled, and served alongside a spicy cilantro sauce, this dish served as a perfect second appetizer and compliment to the papaya salad.
For the main course, I tried the Crispy Pork Belly with Spicy Basil Sauce from the Wok section alongside some Crab Fried Rice from the – you guessed it – Rice section.
The pork belly was easily my favorite dish of the meal. The Thai basil, chili, and garlic paired amazingly with the fried pork belly chunks. It was also surprisingly light and the long beans and red pepper added a vibrancy that kept the heaviness down.
I also greatly enjoyed the fried rice (always a favorite), especially with the addition of the crab meat.
May had also strongly recommended that I try the Green Curry Beef Flank. I first politely declined, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. So mid-meal, I got up to request that Cake fire one up for me, and boy am I glad I did. Besides a visually pleasing and clean presentation, the thin strips of beef, eggplant, basil, and long beans were beautifully bathed in a divine green curry sauce that also paired quite nicely with my leftover fried rice.
After all that, I was officially in a blissful state of food coma and ready for a nap. That is, until dessert was proposed. I mean, did you really expect me to resist a home made (by May, FYI) sticky rice with coconut and condensed milk, and topped with a juicy Thai mango? Ummmmm, no.
Mitch’s recommendation: Let them eat Cake…Thai Kitchen! I honestly loved everything about Cake Thai Kitchen. If the food (and service) is good, I don’t care about anything else.
Standout dishes: I would honestly order the same menu all over again, but if I had to choose I would narrow down my selections to the Green Papaya Salad, Crispy Pork Belly with Spicy Basil Sauce, and Crab Fried Rice*.
* If you must know, I went with the fried rice over the Mango Sticky Rice because if forced to make one rice pick, the fried rice can soak up all of that spicy basil sauce goodness from the pork belly dish. Just saying…