Being a Chef Pirolo fan (formerly of Scarpetta & Macchialina, amongst others), I quickly scooped up a reservation at Bāzí shortly after it opened at The Marlin Hotel in South Beach. You won’t find any spaghetti at this classics-meets-modern Asian restaurant. For once, this is a good thing.
If you visited the space back when MIX South Beach (good riddance) was there, then you will notice the entire dining room and bar layout remains the same. The upholstery, flooring, furniture, and overall decor is now elegant, much darker and sultrier. Deep reds? Tufted leather? Check! An unexpected treat? The music. Throughout the night I enjoyed a nice mix featuring every (mostly upbeat) genre. Was that really Planet Patrol I heard on the way out? Sweet! I might or might not have been the blonde swaying to the beat in the lobby on my way out. Then again, this is South Beach. Anything goes, right? Even cheap thrills…but I digress. Nothing’s “cheap” here; a couple of mishaps, yes, but thankfully enough thrills to warrant a second visit soon.
Click on the individual photo for description.
HIT Many, many hits. It’s hard to choose just one. The fresh and local Whole Crispy-Isla Morada-Snapper (caught using Bāzí’s very own boat) arrived deboned and already in strips to create your own wraps, with lettuce and pickled green papaya in a sweet soy. While the fish could have been a little hotter, it was still delightful and fun to eat. Reserving one ahead of time is a good idea, apparently this snapper sells out quickly. Other hits? The Edamame Dumpling (sweet & sour shallots, velvet mushrooms, pea greens) and Bāzí Rice (togarashi and poached egg). Lastly, service. Professional, personal, and attentive. Any mishap during out visit was quickly acknowledged and happily fixed.
MISS Desserts. Let’s talk about the Key Lime Halo Halo and the Bāzí Ice. As described, the Key Lime brings a raspberry gelee, “leche de flan,” coconut jelly, and sweet red beans. None of these components mixed well together, at least not to my liking; they seemed to be simply cut up and thrown in together with not one noticeable unifying element. My flan-snob self actually enjoyed the taste of the flan, but not the rest. Also, leche de flan? Surely that’s a typo, but the waiter laughed it off when my friend and I mentioned it. Still, I’m thinking perhaps Bāzí meant to write leche flan or flan de leche (both meaning milk flan). The Bāzí Ice has pineapple rum ice, guava sauce, mint custard, kiwi, and white chocolate puffed rice. Excited about the guava sauce on this promising dessert, I requested some extra on it or on the side. Instead, we got another disjointed dessert topped with a Chili’s-like whipped cream (or something like it) and four small guava dollops. Wait for it….it even had a cherry on top. I’m thinking there’s no way this is Pirolo approved and the pastry chef must have quit that morning. Shoot, even the fortune cookie with its little clever message at the end was stale. Must do-over.
Desserts aside, I enjoyed everything at Bāzí. Considering I dined within the first several months, I’m highly hopeful that it’s only improved since. I will return soon for the Peking Duck for two and several other things that intrigued me off the menu.