Growing up on Long Island meant going out for Chinese Food on Sunday nights.
It was basically the only night of the week we went out to dinner in those days, so Sunday was somewhat of a tradition my brothers and I looked forward to. “The Golden Dragon” was on Main Street (doesn't every town have a Main Street?) with red banquettes, lacquer red walls, low lighting, big round tables and lots of pictures of fierce Chinese warriors creating an ambiance of a mysterious place we all imagined China to be. Dishes were served family style and meant to be shared. Now that I think of it, Chinese food was probably the first cuisine to introduce the idea of sharing.
Bazi in South Beach is a far cry from that distant memory, but on Sunday nights, Chef Michael Pirolo, and his sister Jackie, who both lived on Long Island, turn back the clocks to offer Shanghai Nights, an ode to that traditional Sunday dinner at The Golden Dragon, or wherever you went.
Just like Macchialina’s popular Sunday Red Sauce Italian Dinners of last year, Chef Pirolo has taken another Sunday family tradition and authentically created Shanghai Nights at Bazi as a welcome addition to Sunday night dining options.
But before we get to the Shanghai Nights special menu, which includes no less than 10 classic Chinese dishes for $10 or under, one must mention Bazi, The Restaurant. Located on the first and lower levels of the Art Deco classic Marlin Hotel, it captures the Asian ambiance but in an updated and elegant way. Gold tuffed banquettes line one wall, and hanging jar lamps and candle lit hurricane lamps add just the right amount of lighting. Two bars, one at the entrance and the other tucked behind the restaurant offer cocktails and a cool spot away from the South Beach crowds.
We started our Shanghai Sunday with traditional Egg Rolls; crispy, veggie stuffed with a plum dipping sauce. The Pork Dumplings were next, pan fried on one side, it reminded me of my first taste of dumplings. I remember as a child being amazed that pork could taste that good. My, how my tastes have changed.
Fried Chicken wings came with a spicy side sauce and could have have been a bit meatier, but were tasty regardless. The Duck Lo Mein and Fried Rice were among my personal favorites. Chock full of peppers, scallions and snow peas, both dishes were colorful and delicious.
The main courses included Beef and Broccoli and General Tso’s Chicken and each were seasoned nicely and served over rice and provided ample sized portions to share. Noted on menu as Hot & Spicy, we felt they were just right and not too spicy at all.
But it was the Spare Ribs that stole the show. Not the skimpy or hacked up pieces many Chinese restaurants serve today, but thick, meaty and tender ribs and served for fun in a foil lined Chinese take out bag. Just great. Order extra to take them home as they are already packed for “take out”.
We finished with a dessert assortment that included a warm chocolate flourless cake and key lime panna cotta with coconut ice cream.
For a moment, I half expected canned pineapple chunks stuck with toothpicks or orange slices.
Bazi’s Shanghai Nights is offered only on Sunday’s beginning at 6 pm and if you go early you may even make it home in time to watch the Walt Disney Hour… oh, sorry just another fond momentary flashback.
1200 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach FL