Saturday, October 15, 2016

Recap of Paul Qui & Yoshi Okai's Killer Kaiseki Dinner at Pao 9.20.16

On September 20, 2016 chef Yoshi Okai, executive chef of Otoko in Austin, Texas took his talents to Miami Beach. Specifically, he created a terrific kaiseki dinner with Paul Qui at one of my favorite spots in town, Pao located at the Faena Hotel.

Yoshi was introduced to Paul at Uchi and Uchiko in Austin, where Okai served as head sushi chef for six years. After a stint as head chef at East Side King, Yoshi joined Paul at his namesake restaurant, Qui, in 2014. In 2015, Yoshi was named head chef at Otoko.

Yoshi & Paul in action

Otoko is a 12-seat Japanese restaurant owned and operated by Paul. The multi-course omakase experience at Otoko blends Tokyo-style sushi and Kyoto-style kaiseki into a unique tasting menu.

A traditional kaiseki experience progresses from appetizers (sakizuke, zensai) to steamed (mushimono), fried (agemono) and grilled (yakimono) courses and ends with a hot pot soup (shirumono), fresh fruit (mizumono), and dessert (kanmi).

Otoko in Miami was another special meal from Paul and his crew and a real treat. I would make an effort to attend Paul's future collaborative dinners.


Ankimo seared with sweet soy, bubu arare, shiso. 

Kurage - kyuri, fried shitake, basil, une sauce.

Uni - kyuri, smoked steelhead roe, ponzu.

Shiraae - hijiki, carrots, gobo, aburaage.

Anago - oshizushi with sansho pepper.

Close up of the that super sea urchin and smoked roe.


Blue Fin Tuna Tartare, daikon wrap, yuzu, mitsuba.


Masaba Sashimi - yuzu ponzu, ikura, daikon, shiso.


Miyazaki A5 Wagyu Beef, sakura no hana.


Shishamo - Black on Black!! Royal White Sturgeon Caviar (inside & out).

Surprise Course

Table Binchotan! Honey Miso Duck.


Kuro Goma Dofu - sumiso, shiso, bubu arare, fresh wasabi.


Tomato no Raisei Soup - zucchini, mitsuba, smoked shoyu, pinenut, black truffle oil, unripe avocado.

What's in the paper bag??

Kamisuki Nabe  

Hot Pot in Paper
Koshihikari rice, matsutake, white fish


Bite sized confections. Mochi, Cheesecake (pictured) and sorbet.

Pao Chef de Cuisine, Derek Salkin was also in the kitchen along with a fantastic  cameo from one of Miami's best chefs, Makoto Okuwa.

Pao by Paul Qui
Faena Hotel
3201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Hours of Operation
Dinner Only
6:00pm – 11:00pm (Sunday – Thursday)
6:00pm – 12:00am (Friday & Saturday)

For Information
Phone +1 786 655 5600 / + 1 844 798 9712

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ed Lee & Paul Qui Dinner @ Pao by Paul Qui 10.19.16


Chef Lee and Chef Qui on Top Chef

Chef Paul Qui returns to Miami with his third Chef Collective Dinner at Pao on October 19, 2016.  I've attended the first two dinners in the series and both were outstanding.  I did not post recaps but you can see all of the dynamite dishes on my Instagram Feed.  The First Dinner in the series featured the terrific "OG" Thai cooking of Chef Thai Changthong who is executive chef at Thai-Kun in Austin.   The Second Dinner featured a wonderful Kaiseki meal via Chef Yoshi Okai from Paul's omakase restaurant in Austin, Otoko. And an awesome cameo from one of Miami's best chefs, Chef Makoto

The third dinner should be great too.  Paul has invited his good friend and fellow contestant on Top Chef Season 9, Ed Lee to Miami. Paul won that season and Ed finished in the top five.  

The theme for the night is Bourbon and Tobacco and will feature Southern flavors infused with bourbon of course.   

Chef Lee, is currently the chef/owner of 610 Magnolia and MilkWood in Louisville, KY and the culinary director for Succotash in National Harbor, Maryland and forthcoming in DC in 2017.

He has received multiple finalist nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards Best Chef: Southeast. Most recently, he was nominated for a daytime Emmy for his role as host of the Emmy-winning series, The Mind of a Chef on PBS. He is also a judge on Master Chef.

Lee’s self-authored best-selling cookbook, Smoke & Pickles (Artisan Books, May 2013) chronicles his unconventional journey from the kitchens of Brooklyn to becoming a lauded Southern chef. 

He recently created a limited edition small batch Rye and Bourbon blended whiskey with Master Blender Trey Zoeller of Jefferson's Bourbon called Chef's Collaboration.  Hopefully, his suitcase will be packed with bottles... 
Tickets are available for $95 exclusive of tax and service charge. 

 **Cobaya Members email me @ for a discount code for the dinner generously being offered by Paul who is a big fan of the guinea pigs. 

October 19th, 2016, 7:00pm, Pao by Paul Qui
Click here to book your tickets.

Faena Hotel
3201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Hours of Operation
Dinner Only
6:00pm – 11:00pm (Sunday – Thursday)
6:00pm – 12:00am (Friday & Saturday)

For Information
Phone +1 786 655 5600 / + 1 844 798 9712

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Cobaya Mallmann @ Los Fuegos (Faena Hotel) 9.8.16

A table for fifty, outdoor flames and the watchful eye of a multi-million dollar Golden Woolly Mammoth served as the super setting for Cobaya Experiment 64. Yes, we were back at the Faena Hotel where chef Paul Qui and his team at Pao delivered an excellent meal for Cobaya 63. This time the guinea pigs got to experience and enjoy the legendary open-fire cooking skills of chef Francis Mallmann at Los Fuegos. Watching him stoke the wood fire throughout the night was a wonderful site. And tasting the results made it a very special night.

For those unfamiliar with Chef Mallmann, I highly recommend watching his episode of Chef Table on Netflix. He hails from Patagonia, Argentina and is renown for his open fire and cast iron cooking techniques. However, he was also classically trained in traditional French cuisine at Michelin starred restaurants and spent twenty years cooking that way.  A powerful combination.

I was surprised and thrilled that a chef of his stature would even consider participating in an underground and experimental dinner like Cobaya. But he is the real deal. A talented chef who is passionate about food and clearly appreciates its power to bring people together. For me, the love of food and power to unite is really what Cobaya is all about.

We encourage chefs to stray away from their regular menu for Cobaya dinners so we didn't get to enjoy his off the chart empanadas. But he thankfully started the night with his sensational sweetbreads. A smoked scallop crudo was another great bite.

Course one featured a creamy parsnip soup paired with lobster a la plancha. Course two was another highlight of the night and an impressive sight as the large head on prawns were presented a la parilla. The main course was a knockout punch of lechon, lamb and fish. Each was perfectly cooked and seasoned. No enhancements were needed but their pairings were just right. Sides included a light and refreshing tomato and bread salad, Patagonian potatoes with purple onions and a quinoa Salad. Dessert spent six hours over the flames resulting in juicy pineapples on steroids.

This was an enjoyable night. Big thanks to Chef Mallmann and his entire team at Los Fuegos. Special thanks to Zach Gossard, Beverage Director at the Faena for another perfect wine pairing. It should be noted that this is Zach's fourth Cobaya. Welcome to the Hall of Fame. And thank you to the Guinea Pig Nation for your continued interest and support.

I ran into Chef Mallman a couple of days after the dinner and the first words out of his mouth were "Did everyone enjoy themselves?" THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Calm before the guinea pig storm.  Great setting on the Los Fuegos terrace.  50 guinea pigs at one table was a Cobaya first.

Burning man

Nothing to see here. Just some fire and a golden mammoth....


More foreshadowing


Smoked Scallop Crudo
Endives Leaves

Focaccia toast, Chimichurri


Parsnip Soup
Lobster “a la plancha”, Havanero, fresh herbs


Prawns “a la parrilla”
Burnt Kale, Lemon Confit


Wood Oven Whole Roasted Lechon
Roasted Pineapple sauce

Whole Local Grouper “a la parrilla”
Basil and Capper Aioli

Deboned Lamb Legs “a la vara”
Gremolata Sauce



Roasted Pineapple
Mascarpone Cream, Berries compote, Mint

Goodnight to a great night.

Hours of Operation
Lunch 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Dinner 6:00pm – 11:00pm (Sunday – Thursday)
6:00pm – 12:00am (Friday & Saturday)

More information
Phone +1 786 655 5600 / +1 844 798 9712