By Sophia Costabal
Muy caliente. Two words that accurately describe Miami during the summer. These same two words can be adjectives used to describe the new summer menu created by Chef Alex Chang, the latest to helm the kitchen as part of the in-residence rotating chef program at The River Yacht Club (RYC). And, what is the best way to ward off the Miami heat? My answer is simple: fresh seafood fare with a Latin kick! And this is all representative in Chef Chang’s menu.
To prepare my stomach for the feasting that was about to take place on the night I visited RYC, I started off slowly and tried the Chilled Tomatillo Gazpacho. Normally, I am not one to like ‘cold soup,’ but this refreshing starter, with chunks of mango, cilantro and cancha, was a great way to wash away the ubiquitous, ‘I’m-sticky-from-the-Miami-humidity’ feeling.
Up next on the appetizer list was a beautifully presented Tuna Tataki. If this wasn’t such a common menu item at restaurants across Miami, I would probably be raving about the dish. However, I’m fully aware of how ubiquitous the dish is across the culinary scene in Miami, and in comparison to some other renditions, I have to say that it was just good. Paired with yuzu vinaigrette, avocado, and quinoa, it is a safe dish to order that will seem a bit reminiscent of other encounters you may have had with tuna tataki in the past.
Contrarily, the dish that I can say with confidence was out of this world was the Thai Style Ribeye Carpaccio. Thinly sliced to perfection, and seasoned with crispy shallots, key lime vinaigrette, and herbs. This is a true must try on the menu. The ribeye was extremely fresh and impeccably paired with the citrus key lime. The carpaccio was tangy, fresh, and tasty – just the kind of refreshing take on an old favorite that you’d expect at a celebrated restaurant.
After the appetizers came to an end, the journey continued with the entrees, beginning with the Half Roasted Peruvian Chicken with aji verde, paprika, and sweet corn. This dish was also a winner. Warning: if you are not a lover of spicy food, skip this dish. The mix of the aji verde and paprika offer your taste buds a 1-2 punch of delicious tastiness that is definitely not for the faint of heart. Chicken can oftentimes be dry and bland, but this chicken was quite the opposite: juicy and full of flavor.
If you are in the mood for seafood (as you should be if you are eating at the RYC) then I would go ahead and order the Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper or the Grilled Jumbo Shrimp.
The Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper was garnished with green papaya, chermoula, and shishito peppers, and was ALMOST as good as the daily caught fried fish I eat when I’m on the beaches of Jamaica (after drinking and sun bathing all day at the beach). And that is a VERY big compliment to RYC because a freshly fried fish off the coast of Jamaica is pretty much my favorite dish in the world.
As good as the snapper was, the true star of the Summer Menu was the Grilled Jumbo Shrimp dish. Oh! shrimpy, shrimp, shrimp… you were so delicious and I thank you for sacrificing your life for my palate’s pleasure. Smothered in romesco, tomato salsa, and topped with almonds, these giant shrimp sealed the deal for me: RYC is THE seafood hotspot for summer dining.
One must not forget about dessert. Especially after all the salty and spicy flavors, washing it all down with something sweet was a must.
Although the Baba au Rum “Sundae” with jalapeño infused pineapple and vanilla ice cream was good, in my humble opinion dessert is not complete unless it has chocolate as the main ingredient. The Chocolate Fudge with milk chocolate cream and vanilla ice cream was the bomb-dot-com. Silky smooth chocolate with cold vanilla ice cream: it sounds simple but I assure you that it is an absolute pick if you are a chocolate lover like myself.
Sophia’s take: Located in the Miami River District, the River Yacht Club is an inviting waterfront nautical oasis. With lush manicured gardens and a covered deck that allows for al fresco dining, you will feel like you’ve entered the scene of a very posh James Bond movie the moment you walk into the club. There is something about a dock lined with multi-million dollar yachts that makes it feel like Sean Connery is going to make an appearance at any moment. This is the perfect place to take a group of friends (and out-of-towners) when you want to lounge around, have a good time, sip on some great cocktails, and devour a seafood fare with a Latin kick.
Standout dish: The Grilled Jumbo Shrimp. You want to come to RYC to revel in all things seafood and this dish’s originality stays true to Miami’s vibrant Caribbean influences and culinary innovation. Bravo, Chef Chang!