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Friday, June 30, 2017

Wynwood Art Walk and Dinner at Cake Thai in Miami



Abandoned warehouse, Wynwood, Miami


Wynwood is an area in Miami, FL that has seen an amazing transformation. The Wynwood area was originally a prominently lower income Latin neighborhood. It was also home to a Florida East Coast Railway yard having many abandoned warehouses adorned with street graffiti.

Wynwood Walls, Miami, FL


In a play on the street art that was initially in the area, a developer had the vision to expand the pedestrian traffic and business entry into the area. The walls of many of the abandoned buildings here were viewed as canvases, and some of the world's best street and graffiti artists were brought to the area to contribute. The initial effort resulted in a remarkable mural exhibition space, Wynwood Walls, which has spilled onto the surrounding area, but more on that later.

Every second Saturday of the month, Wynwood opens up for an art walk. The many galleries in the area are open late, and other entertainment abounds. For a definitive listing of the art scene here and in other areas of Miami, please get on the e-mail blast of Art Circuits. You will not be disappointed.


Greg Shienbaum Fine Art

The real scene for art walk mostly happens on NW 2nd Avenue between NW 22nd and NW 29th Street.  Here you will find a number of art galleries. A few of note on NW 2nd Avenue were the Greg Shienbaum, Robert Fontaine, Alberto Linero and Harold Golen galleries. All of these had a very nice selection of both local and international artists.

There was also a nice collection of food trucks on NW 22nd Lane eponymously named Food Truck Wynwood that incorporated a Tent/DJ set up and a number of merchants in booths selling their wares.

Park, Wynwood Doors


The murals at Wynwood Walls were incredible and attracted quite a crowd for art walk, both young and old. As you wander around, you come to an adjacent area, Wynwood Doors, formerly a garbage dump. The 100 feet of wall space here has been turned into smaller canvases with addition of rolling pull down metal gates. The idea here was to create smaller canvases for street art which is set in a small urban park area.


Mural, Wynwood

Things like these tend to be infectious, and murals have popped up all over Wynwood, turning this area into one of the more interesting public art projects in the country.


After looking at all this art, my dining companion and I worked up a bit of an appetite. Hearing good things about a local restaurant, Cake Thai, we decided to check it out.

Cake Thai, Wynwood

Wynwood is the restaurant's second location, and opened in December of 2016. Cake is the moniker of chef Phuket Thongsodchareondee, whose initial restaurant was voted best Thai restaurant by a local news source.

Not thinking to make reservations on a Saturday night, we were relegated to the outside seating which was basically children's outdoor furniture. No matter, it was a nice evening out, the outdoor seating was completely adequate and we were anxious to try some of the restaurant's cooking.

The first thing sampled was the Som Tam salad. This was a papaya salad with green papaya, long beans, tomato, peanuts,dried shrimp and Romaine leaves should you want Thai tacos. We also opted for the optional addition of salted crab and pla raa,  the latter a spice of fermented fish mixed with rice bran or rice powder. Salted crabs are small fresh water crabs marinated in salt water, then cut up, shell and all and added as a seasoning to salads and other dishes. This was hands down the best papaya salad I have ever eaten, but it was about to get better. 


Kway Teow Ped


We also sampled the Kway Teow Ped, a Teochew style duck soup with an incredibly rich shangtang like broth. Shangtang is a dark broth made from chicken, pork and ham that has been slowly cooked for long periods. It contains a tsunami of unmami. The dish was served with duck legs, Chinese celery and broccoli, scallions, cilantro and five spice powder. Incredible and beyond delicious. We both left very happy that night.

A few days later I was called to Miami for business which was great as I really wanted to try more of the restaurant's menu items. It was a Wednesday night, and unexpectedly, Wednesday at Cake Thai is Bangkok Night, a prix fixe menu for $35.00. I hesitated as prix fixe menus seldom reflect the actual cuisine served on a restaurant's menu and often corners are cut to have food costs in line with the cost of the meal. If a diner wants to try the day to day offerings of a restaurant, this is not, in my opinion, a good way to do it. Nonetheless, based on my previous dining experience, I decided to try it out.

Bangkok Night prix fixe menu, Cake Thai


As a starter, I ordered the Miang Kana Platoo. These were Chinese broccoli leaf wraps filled with grilled mackerel, lime, peanuts, dried shrimp, toasted coconut and caramelized palm sugar (sticky palm). The flavor was there, but the serving was very small, almost fleeting.

I then moved onto the Bak Tuk Teh, A Hokkien-styled stewed pork rib dish. In the Hokkien Chinese dialect, this translated into pork rib tea, as it incorporated a number of Chinese medicinal herbs. Goji berries (a traditional Chinese medicinal plant), dark soy sauce and tofu completed the dish. When first entering the restaurant, I was early and got a glimpse of some of the menu items in advance that were plated for the servers to try and learn about to describe to diners. The server plating of this dish looked great, but after ordering it I found it much too heavy on the tofu which really diluted the flavor out of this dish. Unfortunately, the Bak Tuk Teh was a disappointment.

Poo Pad Prik Leung


For the main dish I was curious as to what the restaurant could do with crab, so I ordered the Poo Pad Prik Leung. This was a stir fried dish of lump crab, yellow chili peppers, long beans and Makrut lime leaves. Cooking crab can be tricky as the flavor is so delicate it can easily be overpowered. This was not the case here. This stir fry was excellent and the highlight of the meal.

Dessert was limited to a single choice, the Tub Tim Krob. This was a small dessert made from water chestnuts coated in tapioca flour, coconut water granita, coconut milk and coconut. I thought the dish at best ok, nothing to really rave about here.

Against my better judgement I stayed for the prix fixe. Only one course out of four was of the caliber of food eaten during my previous visit. I think if I would have ordered this first time out, I would have wondered what all the fuss was about and probably not have returned to the restaurant. When back in Miami I will know better next time and stick to the regular menu, which was incredible.

If you have never been or even if you have, Art Walk in Wynwood is a must do. The murals in this area are a remarkable collection of public art which approaches a national treasure. The food at Cake Thai can be, at times, brilliant. I would definitely return to sample more of their wonderful regular menu items.

As I write this, I am 35,000 feet in the air on the way to visit friends over the July 4th holiday in Northern California. Happily, Amazon has partnered with Jet Blue to offer free WI-fi service on all of their flights. I find it remarkable that I can still publish blog posts 6.5 miles up in the air, but then again it is 2017.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Wynwood Walls 
2520 NW 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33127
(305)531-4411

Admission free;  Monday – Thursday:10:30 AM – 11:30 PM
Friday – Saturday:10:30 AM – Midnight, Sunday: 10:30 AM – 8PM

Cake Thai
180 NW 29th St.
Miami, FL 33127
(305)573-5082


All major credit cards accepted; Monday-Wednesday: 6–11PM, Thursday-Saturday: 12PM-12 AM, Sunday: 12-11 PM; Kid's meals available; On site parking.


Wynwood
Wynwood

Shops in Wynwood
Wynwood mural

Wynwood mural
Greg Shienbaum Fine Art
Robert Fontaine Gallery

Alberto Linero Gallery
Food Truck Wynwood
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls
Interior seating, Cake Thai
Outdoor seating, Cake Thai
Som Tam salad
Miang Kana Platoo
Bak Kut Keh
Tub Tim Krob

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