Sunday, January 08, 2012

Hollywood, Florida's AIZIA is closer than the continent and puts n a big show (12-30-11)

Hi foodies,
You will first notice that emails from this Phyllis-teen Google group
will know show they come from
"Alan S for foodie finesse," so you can be sure what you are opening
on your handhelds, etc.
Second, thank you all for your well wishes over the last month and
what has been an agonizing and difficult time for me and indeed our
entire family.
My mom passed away 10 days ago and we completed our "shiva" (week of
mourning) just in time to leave on our planned vacation; we are
grateful for that as we really need this break.
That said, we arrived yesterday at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood,
Florida, where we last stayed as a family some 47 years ago. It's
changed tons, and not for the better. To big and too impersonal, and
the motel-style Diplomat West where stayed across the street is now
the Diplomat Landing facing the Intra-Coastal Waterway with a huge
parking lot and some restaurants. One of them is the Asian-fusion
AIZIA (at 3555 South Ocean Drive) which turns into the hotel's night
club after dinner. Click on the website (http:// to get a feel where they are going; it's all
about presentation, and so it is with the food as well.
The prices are indeed hotel prices, so don't expect a bargain,
although the children's meal was $7.00 and the best deal on the menu
for three huge pieces of moist chicken breast battered and fried
crisply and called "fingers." This came with a HUGE bowl of very tasty
fries that never lost their flavor or got soggy through the entire
meal. Samuel really wanted dumplings (which they didn't have) and
settled with starter of DUCK SPRING ROLLS which were two smallish
rolls on a monstrous plate laden with patterns of Mandarin soy mustard
sauce and Hoisin sauce, that were both excessively sweet. He adored
the rolls alone and gobbled them up.

Our server Alejandro suggested the TORO TATARE appetizer which rings
in at $26 for the high level sushi tuna and gets and A+ for
presentation, but is way over-priced when it comes to flavor. The
block of tartare comes atop a huge block of Himalayan rock salt and is
topped with tasty caviar (sevruga at best). On the side are the
yummiest SHITAKE CHIPS which are akin to shrimp chips in a Chinese
restaurant but loaded with flavor, texture and earthiness. Three small
bowls of creme fraiche, chopped chives and chopped cucumber are
garnishes and there is a nice pile of tasty fresh grated wasabi root.
A small plastic tube is filled with soy ginger sauce which can be
dabbed on, and while tasty, was difficult to maneuver.
The OCTOPUS CEVICHE gets even higher points for presentation and is a
tender combo of the meat with some greens, red onions and superb lime
dressing all set in a huge curved out ice cube which is lit by an
internal blue light giving a heavenly aura to the whole shebang.
A bottle of SEPP MOSER 2006 Gruner Veltliner may be a bit old, but had
lots of flavor and hinted of old vines and was a good pairing with the
food. The stemless glasses get no points; Alejandro explained it cuts
breakage, especially here on the beach where he says everyone in the
sky-high apartment condos have terraces and use stemless (I'll ask my
designer friend Michael tonight at dinner!).
I opted for the Pan Seared OPA Special which was a superb fish, but
needed a bit more of the not too exciting Hunan Ginger Sauce (where
was the ginger?). It came with tasty Jasmine Rice and 3 asparagus.
Will won the main course prize with the CRISPY WHOLE SNAPPER. Unlike
these yummy dishes back home at Kinkead's & DC Coast, here the snapper
is filleted and the fish is placed in the entire frame of the crispy
fish, making it a no brainer when it comes to devouring the dish; the
head and tail are intact, though Alejandro said we had the option of a
no-head platter. It is cooked with Thai Basil, a hint of mint (I could
not taste it), Lime & Fish Jus (in a cup on the side to dip in which
we actually used on the Opa and Rice to give those more flavor),
Cilantro, Lemongrass and the requisite Jasmine Rice. The fish was
delish and we all lef quite full.
Being a holiday period and a big hotel, the place had numerous
families, and they do get a plus for the kid's offerings (although you
must ask for them; they don't advertise it) both Asian and American
options. The venue is clearly disco at night with a huge open floor
area at the center and huge bar to the side. The black marble tables
are all at one end and the upper levels (it's tiered) have rd silky
fabric booths and some are curtained with an Asian feel.
I would not make a detour to go to AIZIA, but if in Hollywood, it is a
good option at the hotel, which leaves even more to e desired (but I
will vent that at my client site).