Started by Chef Paul Qui (winner of the Best Southwest Chef- James Beard Award 2012 and Season 9’s Top Chef), and locally led by Chef de Cuisine Benjamin Murray, PAO by Paul Qui continues to climb the culinary ranks and position itself as one of Miami’s best. And with good reason. The goal? Modern Asian cuisine with a side of spunk and surprise.
PAO brings its own kind of marvel to the table to match the Faena Hotel’s wow factor. Enter the lobby and head towards the right side. Pass the private wine cellar/dining room and take the winding staircase up to the second floor where the host/hostess will greet you. The not-to-be-missed ‘Golden Myth’, by Damien Hirst (a $6M golden-leafed unicorn), sits center stage in the oval shaped room and officially welcomes you.
I first visited PAO shortly after it opened in late 2015. I loved the food and vibe, but I felt the service was hit or miss most of the night. That was then, this is now. Every subsequent visit has impressed me to no end.
What I’ve tried:
Sweet Greens Salad
Binchotan Diver Scallop
Foie Gras Terrine
East Side King Fried Chicken
Katsu Sando- Kurobuta Pork Milanesa
Smoked Heritage Chicken
Pork Adobo Rice
Short Rib Rice
3lb Côte de Boeuf: Wagyu beef bone-in rib-eye
Japanese Sweet Potato Purée
Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream Sandwich
Crispy Fried Leche Flan
HITS: The ambitious menu reads as a never-ending carousel of standouts dishes; it’s almost impossible to choose. The visually stunning combination of PAO’s Unicorn (think uni + corn) dish (grilled sweet corn pudding, kalamansi, chile de arbor, and lime) hit all the right notes at once: elegant, hearty, and soulful. No unicorns were hurt in the making of this dish, I promise. I also loved the tender Smoked Heritage Chicken (cucumber salad, soy caramel, garlic-ginger rice), fiery East Side Fried Chicken (sweet chili sauce, roasted banana ketchup, jalapeño), and the homestyle Pork Adobo Rice (ginger-jasmine rice, pork adobo, fried duck egg, cilantro, green mango pico). Offering adventurous and heavily seasoned dishes with a dash of sass, boring does not exist at PAO. You want them. All.
Service has dramatically improved. Perhaps one of the -few- best I’ve experienced in Miami. I especially enjoy the tableside wine service; a rolling cart is used to decant and display the wine throughout dinner. Judging by my last post on Los Fuegos and now PAO, it’s safe to say that if you need me, I’ll most likely be at Faena.