Miami and Honolulu may have a lot in common when it comes to the sun and sea but when food is involved, they are anything alike. Hawaiian food may not be commonplace around South Florida, but Ocean Drive’s newest resident, Kale’a, is quickly making its mark.
Kale’a means “joy or bliss” in Hawaiian Pidgin, and you can find both inside this restaurant. The cuisine is meant to reflect the different influences of Asian cultures upon Hawaii itself, compiling Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, French, Indonesian and American tastes all on one menu. Their food is served family style, presenting contemporary spins on familiar dishes. They also offer fresh crafted cocktails made with housemade cordials, syrups and organic fruit juices to wash it all down.
What can simply be described as the Hawaiian version of chips and salsa - fresh cured salmon paired with a flavorful pico de gallo-esque mix. The yucca chips on the side make this an appropriate Miami dish and the ideal snack after a day at the beach.
Perfectly roasted to be soft yet a bit crispy on the outside, these peppers blew me away. The yuzu aioli sauce on the side created a perfect balance between the hot (and mildly spicy) peppers. Extra yucca chips left over from the ‘Lomi Lomi’? Dunk it in this sauce. These are seriously addicting.
Just the mere mention of pork belly is enough to induce salvation. Thankfully, these two tender bites live up to the hype. The hoison glaze is nice and sweet which complements the jalapeno slaw famously.
Taking a nod from the Japanese, these yakitori chicken skewers were a tasty, albeit small, bite, leaving you yearning for double the portion.
Even though Ocean Drive is the epicenter of South Beach tourism, locals know it’s not the best place for food. Thankfully, some spots like Kale’a are pushing the envelope and bringing innovative tastes to this popular street. It just so happens to be the newest stop on the South Beach dinner tour, so come along and try it out!
1412 Ocean Dr.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
By Cassie Glenn