Friday, May 08, 2009

Miami's Choice Cafe Still Rules Wynwood...

{I've heard many rumors lately about Choice Cafe's imminent demise. However, CC is still here, at least for the moment. Do not delay your visit! Things do change fast here, and you do not want to miss this true Miami joint. In fact, I am 'repurposing' this post, which is almost a year old, to let everyone know that nothing has changed at Choice, and it is still one of a kind.}

The hole-in-the-wall joint that you heard about but weren't sure actually existed? On a street that, even when it's crowded, looks deserted? Because three's a crowd on NW 3rd Ave., in whatever the heck the Miami Chamber of Commerce is calling this 'district' this week (Fashion? Arts? Let's wait until the developers get their two cents in...). It's right around the corner from the Rubell Collection, and would be a perfect spot for the employees' cafeteria. In fact, it's also hard by MOCA at the Goldman, the Margulies, and the Bakehouse, and just a few blocks from most everybody else in the Wynwood crawl. You'd expect slumming art slags all over the place, slurping their Bibimbap, and watching the TV tuned to Japanese baseball. But there's just a few local workers, and a slow but steady crew of Koreans, with nary an asymmetrical haircut in sight.

A reader and fellow food-lover hipped me to this place, and I hope they don't get fired from their job for aiding and abetting. But I'm certainly not the first person to write about Choice Cafe, and I have a feeling I won't be the last. This is a place where the food is delicately yet firmly spiced, and even the panchan, the five or six little traditional side dish accompaniments, each have something special about them. The chef, the dude with the food-spattered t-shirt, is Go. He mans the over-sized wok, and will happily explain anything you don't understand to you, if he is not cooking. The front of the house is run by the delightful yet stern Kui, who pretends she doesn't speak English (or is pretending to pretend-maybe it's all an ironic performance piece), and prefers when you order by number. She will also ring you up, and roll out the cart to deliver your food.

In deference to taskmaster Kui...

#3..."Kimchi & Pork BBQ spicy marinated thin sliced" ($11.95)
#6..."Homemade noodle top cooked w/potato, pork & bean past[e] special sauce" ($7.95) #8..."Mixed seafood & vegetables with soft tofu in a heated stone pot ($8.95)
#15..."Steam rice, beef & vegetables in a heated stone pot w/house spicy sauce" ($9.95) #21..."Pan fried dumplings" ($7.95)

Everything was served promptly, fresh and hot, and each dish had its own distinctive textures and tastes. This isn't some cheapo joint throwing out lifeless, forgettable food. There is a mastery and love of Koren cuisine here, albeit on a short menu (and I am certainly no expert on Korean food), that comes through in each dish. And as you return, the frosty Kui and the likable Go will probably remember you, and make the extra effort to make sure everything is just right. As long as you order by number

Choice Cafe
2750 NW 3rd Ave
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 438-4224
Open M-F for breakfast and lunch (11AM-4PM, more or less)

Number 8....

I had to add a few rough videos so you could see how hot and bubbly the food was, and how much fun we had eating it...

Number 6
Number 6, Number 21, panchan
Number 21
radish, onion (panchan)
Number 8

Number 15, panchan, Number 3
Number 15, crunchy rice

They also have an English menu

Number 15
Number 3

Total Pigout... Someone please give that guy a napkin and tell him to slow down...

Choice Cafe

2750 NW 3rd Ave

Miami, FL 33127

(305) 438-4224

Open M-F for breakfast and lunch (closing around 4 or 5 PM)


  1. Who's the director - your constant companion? Pretty good work, I say...oh, and the food looks good too.

  2. shite, that thing with the raw egg wins the ugly food of the week award.

  3. yeah CC can direct...don't need no megaphone, neither :)

  4. Hi Danny, this is Wok Star Eleanor Hoh. Nice seeing you at Botanical Garden recently. Doing great job with your blog. I love Korean BBQ and the bibimbap looks good, I have to go and try this place! Thanks for tip. Students who take my cooking classes are constantly asking me for restaurants. Wanna come to experience my class? Now, I know you like Asian food. Got a beautiful restaurant/provisioning marketplace called The Grateful Palate in Ft. Lauderdale hosting me next Tuesday, Aug.5, 7pm-10pm. Shoot me a reply and I'll give you lowdown. Spread the word to your readers.

  5. you pretty much should get there around noon, because if it's 3pm and they don't feel like cooking they'll just tell you that lunch is over when you sit down.

  6. Actually I've never been turned down-they were even open this past Saturday for lunch-which was a delicious surprise...There is a language barrier but really, don't be discouraged, forge ahead, they will take care of you.