By Mitchell Nover
Early last year, Mel raved about her experience at Talde Miami Beach (4041 Collins Ave, Miami Beach), praising the restaurant’s wide variety of Asian-American dishes served up in an eclectic, Brooklyn-esque environment, as a “progressive fusion of Asian and American dishes that took [her] out of [her] comfort zone.” Now, about a year and a half later, I had the opportunity to get my own taste of Talde, which recently launched a new menu featuring a heavier focus on classic Chinese-driven dishes, of course with the Dale Talde spin we’ve all become accustomed to. Despite the changes to the menu, I’m here to tell you that Mel’s take still rings true.
Menu highlights: As with any proper Chinese food dining experience, I ordered way too much food. As a serious lover of greasy, Chinese-American takeout joints, I was excited to try Chef Talde’s interpretations of the “classics” to see how he would be incorporating his talents and signature sense of fun. From the Char Siu Pork Ribs with tingling watermelon salad and the Chicken Fried Rice with basil, dill, scallions, bean sprouts, and chicken chicharrones, to the Hong Kong Noodles with minced pork, Chinese sausage, and smoked oyster sauce and the Walnut Shrimp with twice cooked long beans and lucky orange, I was in heaven. That said, unlike Mel, I was still fully in my comfort zone after trying these dishes. All are fully reminiscent of the original versions, just elevated by about 197 notches.
As soon as I was settled in, however, I was quickly pushed a little further outside the comfy confines of what I would normally expect to find at my regular Chinese restaurant. The Heirloom Tomato Salad with pickled blueberries and black vinegar is a nice ode to South Florida that highlights some beautiful local products, and, for dessert, Chef Talde’s signature version of the Filipino dish Halo-Halo serves up a shaved ice sundae with condensed milk, coconut, pineapple, lemongrass, and tapioca, topped with Cap’n Crunch.
Standout dish: The dish that truly blends the old school with Chef Talde’s new school approach to Chinese food is the General Talde’s Chicken. Sitting on top of a bed of broccoli, the chicken is supremely crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth moist on the inside. At first bite you know you’re getting the best version of General Tso’s that you’ve ever had, especially thanks to the grilled peaches. Combining extra sweetness extracted from grilling the fruit, while still leaving behind just enough tartness to keep things interesting, as you continue to savor, you start reaching new depths of flavor that surprise and delight until there’s nothing left on the plate.
Are we boozing? To complement the menu is a cocktail and beer list that continues Talde’s East-meets-West spirit. Whether you’re into sweet (The Plum Basil Margarita: El Jimador Silver, triple sec, plum, Thai basil, lemon, and lime), citrus (Green Lightning: house infused green tea vodka, green tea, cucumber, and lime), or smokey (The Ginger Rose: Evan Williams bourbon, Laird’s applejack, lemon, and ginger-cinnamon grenadine), there’s a drink to please every palate.
Mitch’s take: As I said at the top, I ordered way too much food at my Talde dine. But I definitely wasn’t complaining because in addition to my “take,” I also got “take out.” Like any good Chinese meal, Talde is the gift that keeps on giving and I was able to relive my experience over and over again as I reheated and chowed down on my leftovers all week long. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.