Stretching my foodie muscle at one of Miami’s best kept secrets: Drunken Dragon.
You know the saying: “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, that’s exactly the case at Drunken Dragon. The Korean barbecue hot spot is nestled into one of the most unassuming strip malls I’ve ever seen. There’s no signage, no arrow pointing toward the door, no hint of anything, really. Once you walk in, though, it’s a whole other world.
South Florida foodies like to call it: “Miami’s best kept secret.” I’ve even heard it referred to as an “underground” foodie paradise; think speakeasy back in the Prohibition Era. Instead of imbibing on illegal alcohol, though, you’ll partake in some of the best food you’ve ever tasted. In fact, it’s so good, it SHOULD be a crime!
Round up the lot of ’em, charge ’em with food felonies! The arrest citation should read: “How dare you hide world-class cuisine from us mere mortals?” And don’t even get me started on the bartenders! They’re going down with mixology misdemeanors 😂…
Between the whimsical tiki-inspired drinks, phenomenal food and sultry dark wood decor, I have two words for you: MIND BLOWN (but I digress)…
Before I arrived at Spotlight, someone tipped off the powers-that-be regarding the direct way to my heart (which happens to be through a thick straw with an adult beverage at the end of it.) Ha! Who am I kidding? A straw isn’t even necessary. While I love a stiff drink, I also enjoy creative cocktails (a girl can only drink so many Cosmos) and Drunken Dragon is great at both.
My first sip of the night was a yummy concoction called Cucuzaki, made with sake, gin and elderflower. It was perfectly paired with two starters: Truffle Popcorn and the ever-so-popular, Crispy Bok Choy. Who knew leafy green veggies could taste so good? I especially loved its plum soy sauce.
I had a bonafide liquid love affair with the Mai Tai (made with Appleton Rum.) Not only was it the bomb-dot-com, it reminded me of a cool summer night in Malibu. The drink, originally created in California, is also known for its Polynesian flair. It was my favorite of the night, alongside the Beef Tartar (served with crispy tortillas.) While I’m not a huge fan of raw beef, this dish (made with tenderloin, quail egg and pine nuts) was so unbelievable, I’d go back just to have more. It’s a #MustTry …
The refreshingly frothy, Thai Basil Mule, made with vodka, thai basil and ginger beer was delicious, too. It went great with my Salmon Poke Bowl, which had tons of fresh ingredients: avocado, seaweed, scallions, sesame seeds and black rice. Mixing it just right will be your only job of the night, unless, of course, you go for the classic Korean BBQ.
While I’m not the kind of girl who just happens to wander into my kitchen (unless I’m looking for vodka ) … I decided to give the grilling a go. After all, it was smack dab in the middle of the table and seemed easy enough. Besides, I love trying new things, especially when they involve Skirt Steak with chimichurri & Shrimp.
At first, I was a little overwhelmed, but after I tried it, I liked it. It was pretty straightforward and, dare I say, fun? It’s great for a first date or a new sizzling foodie adventure.. Plus, there’s something “magically delicious” about food cooked over an open flame.
The cheekiest drink of the night, Voodoo Lady, was presented with major personality. Along with tequila, pineapple & grapefruit, there’s something “hearty” on the backside of the cup, too. ♥️ You’ll wanna grab a pic, it’s perfect to post on social media.
Also impressive, the BFR Meat Board (served with steamed Taiwanese Buns, pickles, lettuces, herbs and 3 sauces: chimichurri, Hoisin and Red dragon.) If you prefer a veggie option, they serve a Shiitake Mushroom version as well. If you think this dish is impressive in the photos, wait ’til you lay eyes on it yourself. Throw in a side of mind-blowing Brussels and your tastebuds will never be the same.
Wrapping up the night, The Ronin (strong enough for a man; pretty enough for a woman.) It’s a Scotch whiskey blend with Earl Grey and a grapefruit twist. My photographer, James, barely let me touch the thing, let alone taste it. He said it was his favorite of the night.
If dessert makes you feel guilty, try the “Matcha Tres Leche” — combining good quality green tea with condensed milk and heavy cream balances out the diet universe or why not just throw caution to the wind and enjoy yourself? Honestly, that’s what Drunken Dragon is all about.
No matter how many foodies claim it or how many magazines dub it a mystery cloaked with a nondescript door, don’t be intimidated. It’s something special everyone should have the opportunity to explore and that’s why Drunken Dragon is one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!
1424 Alton Road
Miami Beach, Florida 33139