It’s important to have goals in life. For some people it’s a successful career, for others it’s to buy a home, or perhaps for some, it’s to travel the world. All those goals are awesome, but we like to focus on smaller, more immediately gratifying goals on our path to those bigger goals. You know, like getting our asses out of bed before hitting snooze for a 3rd time, or hitting Tree House on a rare can release, and, well a loooong list of #foodgoals of course!
Well, after we met Chef Chris Gonzalez last year when he started up Hapa Food Truck, we knew his new restaurant, Miro Kitchen in Fairfield, had to be at the top of our #foodgoals list.
Why? Well, first, just one taste of one of his creative twists on traditional Filipino food like his stellar furikake fries, tacos, and purple yam bun burgers of his food truck told us he was an incredibly talented Chef. But second, we knew he also had a stellar team working with him to launch Miro Kitchen, starting with Chef Howard McCall who has worked at Washington Prime and two Barcelonas, as well as owner Eugene Kabilintsky and Chef Gonzalez’s wife, Nicole Samela, who runs the front of the house.
So, after a few weeks of this Pan-Asian + Pacific restaurant being open, we checked it out with a lofty (some may say crazy) #foodgoal of trying nearly everything on the menu with our friends John and Jenn.
When we arrived, things were bustling with lots of excitement and energy . . . so much so there was about a 30 minute wait for a table. While some may be annoyed at a wait, it made us happy to see that the community was embracing them so quickly. So, as we waited by the bar we took down some Weng-Wengs prepared for us by Chef Gonzalez.
Speaking of drinks, let’s get into it . . .
The Cocktails and Drinks
There’s plenty to drink here, whether craft beer is your thing, or it’s wine, sake, or cocktails. Since we had already been drinking at Two Roads and Aspetuck Brew Lab that day, we decided to go with some cocktails.
Weng-Weng: think of this as a tropical Long Island Iced Tea. It packs a major wallop, but has a sweet finish with flavors like pineapple, papaya, and passionfruit. If you’re a lightweight, this drink is all you’ll need to get your buzz on.
Thaigarita: A beautiful margarita by itself, but the addition of the Thai chili pepper added a creeping kick we loved. We also enjoyed the hit of citrus from the grapefruit, making this a great drink to order with a great deal of the menu.
Spiced Thai Iced Coffee: Made with vanilla vodka, butterscotch, egg whites, sea salt, and coffee liqueur, this drink is great for the end of the meal, almost like a refreshing dessert in and of itself. It is very nicely balanced, reminding us of a Mudslide, but not nearly as sweet.
All the Noms
While the salads looked great, we wanted to get down and dirty with a couple tacos and the “Plates” section of the menu which are their small plates options. We’d also pick out two of their dishes from the “Rice + Noodles” section just to even things out. Here’s the carnage:
Crispy Chickpeas: These came to the table as a treat and, while they are pretty simple, they were quite tasty. They are made by coating them with some rice flour, frying them up until they get nice and crispy, then sprinkling them with some salt. We wanted to save room for dinner, but we ate them all up, handful by handful.
Cauliflower Taco: Damn, son. The cauliflower is meaty and has a nice crunch to it, marrying well with the spicy aioli. Not just for vegheads, it’s a great taco even if you’re a hardcore omnivore.
Pork Belly Taco: This is where it’s all at, people. Beautifully soft pork belly served up with a deep-fried egg on top (oh em gee). That yolk when it explodes into the meat? Ridiculously amazing. A must order.
Short Rib Taco: We’ve had this before on the Hapa Food Truck and this time around it was equally as amazing. The aioli adds a nice creaminess with a gentle spicy kick and the cabbage adds a satisfying crispy crunch to the perfectly cooked short rib.
Shrimp & Grits: This dish tho, holy f’n crap people. The grits were cooked so perfectly and were creamy and silky. The thing about them that we loved was the coconut flavor and blast coming through that took a classic Southern dish and turned it tropical. Adding a nice contrast of flavors and textures were the shrimp that were cooked and fried in a slightly spicy coconut batter to perfection. Best shrimp and grits we’ve had in the state, for sure.
Charred Octopus: The tentacles were charred and cooked just right, yielding perfectly tender and juicy meat. The salad that it was served with was all sorts of good with ingredients like bok choy, corn, chunks of green olive, shiitake, and roasted red peppers. It was rich, a bit salty, a bit sweet from the corn, all fresh, and played off of the octopus very nicely. We just wish there was more octopus in the dish, though.
Flank Steak: This was a surprisingly refreshing dish. It starts off with flank steak cooked a nice medium, then it’s set off with cornbread and watermelon. Yeah, sounds odd, but it worked perfectly. Be a little playful, try some different flavor combos. Steak by itself, steak with watermelon, steak with the cornbread, and bites of all three together.
Filipino Spring Rolls: These rolls had a crispy and crunchy skin, you know, the kind where it flakes off when you bite down. Inside was bursting with flavor and really moist, a good deal coming from the white cheese. Bringing it all together was the sweet chili sauce that added a sweet and spicy bite. Pretty phenomenal if we do say so.
Tikka Masala Wings: The Tikka Masala sauce that covered the wings was chunky and tasted just like a classic tikka masala sauce. It was great and full of flavor, but our one comment is that the wing skin had become soggy because of too much sauce. The chicken was plenty juicy, but we love our crispy skin on a wing, so we’d likely not get these again.
Hawaiian Fried Rice: What a beautiful presentation—the rice comes out on top of a quartered pineapple. The fried rice itself had a nice lime and citrusy backbone to it, the shrimp was cooked just right, and the added crunch of the Macadmias were so good. We added shrimp to ours, which we highly recommend doing, especially when they’re cooked to perfection like they were for us. A definite order if you love fried rice and exotic flavors.
Pork Belly Noodles: This dish was great with the moist bits of pork belly and the egg on top. We loved the texture and flavors, but felt they were too salty.
General Tso’s Cauliflower: Hot (literally), sticky, and sweet, the cauliflower was a major hit at our table. First up is the cubes of crispy potato, covered in that amazing sauce . . . plenty crunchy on the outside, but nice and meaty on the inside. And the cauliflower: big chunky florets were bathed in the sweet-sour-spicy sauce and had a big meaty crunch. An amazing dish to order.
Dessert Plate: Well, we had mentioned to Nicole that we were excited to bring our friends out for their birthdays, and wouldn’t you know what came out? A fully decked out dessert plate with a firework sparkler that lit up the entire restaurant. First up were the Malasadas which are like donut puffs. They were buttery, moist, and pillowy with a burst of salty and buttery flavor inside with a sauce. The Apple Turon was just fantastic and most like a crispy spring roll with an apple pie filling. Damn, damn good. There was also the Banana Bread Pudding which was our least favorite of the dish—tasty, but a bit on the dry side. And, we finished it up with their amazing Ube (purple yam) ice cream. It was so light and airy, silky, and buttery. And, there was this taste that you just can’t describe easily. It has a light sweetness to it and that inherent starchy yamminess to it. Again, we’re gonna say it’s a must order because it is so Filipino and so much the style of Miro.
Having only been open for a relatively short amount of time, Miro Kitchen has a great following and is still filling tables like nobody’s business. Their fun and playful on Pan-Asian, Pacific, and Filipino dishes are an awakening of flavors. Just familiar enough for you to know the ingredients, but wild and exotic enough to surprise the hell out of your tastebuds. As you can see, we met our aggressive #foodgoals and loved nearly everything single thing. Like to the point where we’re planning our #foodgoals for the next visit.
So needless to say, we recommend you get there STAT! If it’s a busy night, you can also call ahead and see if there are some tables available.
Disclaimer: While we paid for most dishes, some were given to us to try. Regardless, our feelings, words, opinions, and tasting notes are our own.
Address: 1876 Black Rock Turnpike
Phone: (203) 332-0001