At La Mar inside Mandarin Oriental, Miami, you’ll find one of our favorite chefs: Diego Oka. We’ve been to La Mar several times (Exhibit A and Exhibit B), and Chef Oka’s dishes have always left us dazzled. Unsurprisingly, this year’s Miami Spice menu elicited the same response: $39 for this quality of food is a steal.
La Mar offers Miami Spice for lunch and dinner. There is some overlap with the two menus, so if you want to save a few bucks, lunch is the way to go. Regardless, either meal service saves you a nice chunk of change. Since our preview was mainly dinner items, most of this post is dedicated to those.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk food. For starters, you have two options: The Tiradito Baichiche and the Paiche Charapa. The former features scallop in a 22-month-aged Parmesan leche de tigre that’s a cheesy twist on your typical tiradito. The latter, on the other hand, is comprised of amazon anticuchera, banana tacacho (traditional banana garnish from the Peruvian amazon), smoked bacon and sachaculantro chutney. The balance of sweet and spice with the freshness from the chutney had our taste buds dancing.
In the entrees section, guests have two options as well: Cachetes de Ternera (veal cheeks) and Picante de Mariscos (seafood stew). The super tender veal cheeks just melted in our mouths along with the mushrooms and Cippolini onions — it was delicious. Nothing compared to the picante de mariscos, though. Ever since our first visit to La Mar, we’ve always been advised to order seafood and that advice has never failed us. Hands down our favorite dish of the night, the seafood stew with some rice made for a wholly satisfying dish.
On the dessert menu, you only have one choice but that’s all you really need. La Piña (coconut ice cream, dulce de leche foam, ginger jelly and orange sauce) is good stuff — there are a lot of unique components that keep your palate on its toes; the jelly and foam, in particular, are a lot of fun. During this course, we also got to try the lunch dessert (Paleta de Lucuma), which we found to be perfect for a hot Miami day (aka every day).
Each year, we look forward to Miami Spice because it gives us a chance to try restaurants that might otherwise require us to stretch our budget. If you haven’t had a chance to check out La Mar because of the price tag, this is the perfect time to visit and devour Chef Oka’s cuisine, all while enjoying one of the best views of Brickell’s skyline. Sit down, order a pisco sour and get ready for an experience.