ErGagit, MIAbites and Chef Bee: Authentic Thai at Oishi Thai
It is hard not to be immediately taken with the enthusiasm and upbeat personality of Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, known to most simply as Chef Bee. He has a winning smile, a passion for creating authentic Thai cuisine and is knowledgeable and very entertaining. His Oishi Thai in North Miami has become a destination for many in search of authentic and not-Americanized Thai cuisine. Chef Bee was born to farmers in a small town in Northern Thailand, bordering Laos and Myanmar. He developed an appreciation for culinary early on from his mother who taught him everything from growing his own food, the different techniques of preserving and preparing food, as well as the vast array of flavors within the Northern Thai culture. Chef Bee, under his entrepreneurial grandmother's guidance also learned the art of making "Jin Som" (marinated pork), "Kab Muu" (crispy pork rinds) and "Rang Nok" (sweet caramel shredded taro) - Thai street food that she traded and sold at the local village market.
At the age of 18, Bee came Miami where he pursued his passion for cooking. Having no formal experience, he worked his way up the ladder, before landing a sushi chef position at Nobu. While training under the tutelage of some of the country's finest chefs, it was here that he truly learned what it took to run kitchen and maintain the highest standards.
Following Nobu, Bee went on to open his own restaurant, Oishi Thai, in 2005 on Miami's Biscayne Boulevard. Oishi, which means "delicious," quickly became popular for its authentic Thai cuisine, but also for its fresh and beautifully prepared sashimi and sushi and other Asian Fusion dishes.
Ergagit and I visited with Chef Bee to talk and taste what he is most proud of…his Thai cuisine. Especially items not on regular menu and in some cases represent Thai "street-food". He has plans in October 2015 to open a second restaurant, named for his daughter, NaiYaRa, in the Sunset Harbor area, so lucky Miami Beach residents do not have to cross any causeways to savor his delicious food.
Much of Thai cuisine uses fresh fish, noodles and Thai bo spice, and for this evening’s menu of 8 dishes, Chef Bee had acquired fresh prawns, which he prepared in a number of different ways for our tasting.
But no evening with Chef Bee ( and for that matter Ergagit! ) begins without first a specialty cocktail, in this case, his signature cocktail, Killer Bee. A slightly sweet, slightly spicy drink of Gin, Simple Syrup, fresh lemon juice, lemon grass, topped with a lemon leaf and hot Thai chile, it prepped your mouth for the many flavors to come.
First dish was Crispy Bok Choy, flavored with ample pieces of crispy garlic. The bok choy was prepared perfectly, retaining its bright green color and a light way to start the evening’s tastings.
It was followed by a very colorful Crispy Papaya Salad, shredded papaya and lemon juice.
The next two dishes were my favorites, The Crispy Wonton, also known as Ab-Saab, were dumplings stuffed with chicken, in a spicy sauce of sweet soy and Thai spice topped with cilantro, a nice addition to offset the fire in the sauce.
The Tamarind Beef Jerky, a traditional Thai street food, was served on skewers like a satay, but was more like jerky…thinly sliced, chewy and very flavorful. It was served with Burmese Sticky Rice seasoned with turmeric powder, and a sweet soy and sesame seed dipping sauce.
Chef Bee, proudly proclaimed that he had been able to obtain some huge and fresh prawns, so the next couple of dishes featured these succulent items. Burmese Prawns sauteed with 5 Spice powder and sitting in a bowl lined with a Thai newspaper, and Ob- Arai, a sweet soy based preparation over Vermicelli-like “glass noodles”.
Finishing the evening were two more classic Thai dishes, Chicken wings in a sauce that was both sugary and hot, and a Crispy Pad Thai, with prawns. Other Pad Thai dishes available include traditional Pad Thai, and Pad See Ew.
A delicious tasting of some traditional and not so traditional dishes with a little fire and a lot of flavor. Many of these dishes do not appear on the regular menu but with a call ahead you can request them specially prepared for a meal of Thai flavors not found elsewhere in Miami.
Oishi Thai is located in a shopping center on Biscayne in North Miami, with both indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of parking.
14841 Biscayne Blvd.
North Miami, FL 33181
305 947 4338