If you enjoy interactive dinners, you need to get yourself to Drunken Dragon immediately. This somewhat hidden, tiki-inspired, Korean bbq restaurant in South Beach is becoming a local favorite amongst those looking for a well-made cocktail and great food to go along with it. Located on Alton Road in a remote shopping center, this hidden gem is behind the doors of a place simply labeled as “MARKET.” Basically, if you don’t already know about Drunken Dragon, there is a pretty small chance of you just happening to walk in.
Following Korean tradition, the tables at Drunken Dragon are equipped with tabletop grills that allow you to roast different foods over an energetic flame. All the options are intensely flavored and include seasonings ranging from bulgogi, to old bay, to galbi, to chimichurri. All the proteins are expertly paired with a seasoning that will compliment it and bring out its best aspects. Chef Xavier Torres, formerly from The Dutch and Nobu has a wonderful grasp of seasoning and an expert knowledge that makes him a great person to run the kitchen.
Although Korean is the major influence found at Drunken Dragon, there are also non-traditional plates gathering inspiration from all over Asia. Dishes like the Green Papaya salad, inspired from the Thai dish Som Tum, is refreshing and a wonderful way to start the meal. Tossed with bulgur, green beans, tomato, basil, bean sprouts, and coconut, the salad is spicy and manages to emit a wide range of flavors and textures. Another favorite of mine is the Crack Spare Ribs, served with Sambal, scallion, herbs, and chili. The meaty ribs are sweet and spicy and make for a substantial amount of food. It offers the comfort of take-out spare ribs with elevated flavors and spices that make this dish refined and one that I will come back to again and again. The Lobster Rolls were impeccable as well. Served on crunchy brioche with roe and sriracha aioli, it was an Asian take on an American favorite that was easily the best bite of the meal.
Make sure to try the drinks when you’re at Drunken Dragon. They are as much a part of the experience as the do-it-yourself grill and the rest of the Asian inspired food. The tiki drinks are expertly prepared and served in glassware that alludes to the Hawaiian drinks that they try to represent. The Mai Tai, made with Appleton Rum, Rhum Clement Agricole, Lime, and Orgeat Syrup is fruity and refreshing, making it a great compliment to any rich dish on the menu. Another popular cocktail is the Seaoul Surfer, made with Bacardi Superior Rum, St Germain, Passion fruit, Lime, and Orange. The citrus notes coming out of the drink pair well with the high quality rum and make this one of the tastiest drinks I’ve had all year.
Drunken Dragon is helping shape South Beach into a culinary destination. Locals love it, so they must be doing something right. Finding a niche that was severely lacking in this city by creating an incredible concept is something that more restaurants should try to emulate. I look forward to being back.
1424 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139