1 800 Lucky: Les Banh Amis and Poke OG
1 800 Lucky was one of those openings that Miami food lovers like to talk about incessantly.
From the minute the doors opened, the lines to get in the Asian themed food hall and then once inside, the lines to get food, became almost legendary. Bestselling items SOLD OUT by 8 pm. If you hadn’t visited within one week of opening, FOMO immediately set in.
So, imagine how "lucky" we felt, when we were invited to visit on a sunny afternoon BEFORE the 1 800 Lucky doors opened for the evening. Literally, “the calm before the storm”. The furniture had been piled to one side, the outside patio was being washed down and the bar area emptied and completely cleaned and being restocked.
As guests of Chef Scott Linquist and his girlfriend publicist, Alexandra Guerra, our first stop was Les Banh Amis, Chef Scott's nod to Vietnamese street food. Banh Mi, is the traditional stuffed sandwich featuring meat, fish and various vegetable toppings and sauces. What makes Les Banh Amis stand out as the most popular spot at 1 800 Lucky is the not so traditional choice of bread, a crusty French baguette sourced from Sullivan Street Bakery, the creative meat choices and the homemade pickles, relishes and sauces made fresh by Chef Scott.
The daily menu, posted on a chalkboard alongside included, Barbecued Pork Belly, Caramel Glazed Short Rib, Proper Sausages, Meatball, Lemongrass Shrimp, Sesame Seared Tuna and two Vegetarian options. Each banh mi comes piled high with pickled daikon and carrot, cucumber, cilantro, mint, Thai basil, with add-on sauces that include hoisin, homemade mayo, and vinaigrette. And that Sullivan Street bread! It is just the right amount of crusty to not absorb too much of the wonderful sauces that can make the banh mi too soggy to easily pick up and eat.
We opted for the Proper Sausage banh mi and at Scott’s suggestion added the pate. It was delicious, and if you have ever been to Proper Sausages in Miami Shores, you know that their freshly made sausages are the best in Florida.
The Lemongrass Shrimp banh mi was also very good with cucumber, mint and full of large grilled shrimp. Add on avocado for an additional creamy texture.
But the favorite was the Thai Meatballs. Scott makes his own Vietnamese meatballs, and the flavor is a nice combination of ground meat, Thai chili, ginger, garlic and a touch of sugar, resulting in a sweet and savory mix. Topped with the pickled daikon, carrot and cucumber, it is a must to order. PRO TIP: Both the meatball and Proper Sausage banh mi do sell out so plan to go early.
Just when we thought the tasting was over, three bowls of poke arrived from Poke OG, the newest addition to Miami’s fast-casual dining obsession. Poke originated in Hawaii, as a surfer snack composed of marinated fresh fish (usually Ahi Tuna), over rice or greens with lots of add-ins and sauces. Southern California adopted this food trend opening Poke Shops up and down Venice Beach and throughout Los Angeles. Authentic poke is served custom-made but as an already mixed and tossed version, and Poke OG did not disappoint.
Owner/Chef Andrew Mayer prepared three distinct versions of poke. He referred to his style at Poke OG as “Hawaiian roots with a California soul”. BTW- the OG has three meanings…Ocean Grown, Organic Grown or our favorite, Original Gangster.
The first bowl was the most popular; Big Island OG, with ahi tuna, cucumber, sweet onions, fried onions tossed in a soy, ginger Hawaiian style sauce and served over white rice, although you could switch out the white rice for brown rice, zucchini noodles or baby greens. It was exactly as remembered from the beaches of Oahu.
To customize you can add on masago salmon roe, sesame seeds, a poached egg or avocado.
We also enjoyed the Leiala OG, which featured salmon, jalapeno, edamame, tossed in a citrus ponzu over zucchini noodles. Fresh and light is how we describe this nice combination of fish and citrus flaavor.
The third poke was the perfect finale to our tasting afternoon. The Pineapple OG offered a colorful take on poke, by offering a mix of fresh pineapple, watermelon, edamame, cucumber, mint and jalapeno and was refreshing and delicious.
As we packed up our notes, phones and cameras, we noticed that the bar and entire indoor and outdoor space had been put back together and that a line had already begun to form outside the entrance.
We felt very lucky indeed to have had a chance to visit before the crowds descended. Check out the other 1 800 Lucky Asian food options including Lotus & Cleaver for Korean BBQ, Hayato with ramen and buns, Yip for dumplings, Myumi for sushi hand rolls and Taiyaki NYC for soft green tea ice cream in cute fish-shaped red bean cones.
So Go Get Lucky! And, lucky for you, they are now open for lunch.
1 800 Lucky
143 23rd St.