When we first set out to write this story, we expected Cake Thai Zap Elee — the latest concept from Chef Phuket “Cake” Thongsodchareondee — to stick around for a while. We knew it would be short-lived — it was a pop-up after all — but we never expected it to shut down almost as quickly as it opened inside B Bistro + Bakery.
Alas, all good things come to an end. Cake Thai Zap Elee may be gone, but it’s definitely not forgotten. If anything, this post will serve as yet another reason to check out Cake’s amazing food.
Cake Thai Zap Elee had two big things going for it: an exceptional chef and inexpensive dishes. The food we ate, which was inspired by the Isan region of Thailand, was not only affordable but also varied. Compared to other Brickell restaurants, Zap Elee was a steal. So why was it often empty?
We blame it on boring customers. Cake’s food is not for everyone: It challenges you and introduces you to flavors you might not otherwise encounter. Those who venture outside their comfort zones are rewarded handsomely with full bellies and happy taste buds.
Items like the Shaved Cucumber Salad with shrimp paste and pickled blue crab dressing and the Spicy Pork Ribs Soup caught us off guard at first. They’re bold and can easily overwhelm your palate, but if you push through, you’re going to quickly find yourself with empty plates in front of you. You won’t — and can’t — stop eating.
Even more approachable selections like the Grilled Chicken have a little something extra to keep you on your toes. All it took was a bite of that succulent bird drizzled with fermented honey to make us believe in all the hype; this was our first time trying Cake’s Thai food. We’ll think of that Grilled Pork Salad with spicy fish sauce forever.
Thankfully, it’s still possible to enjoy Cake’s food elsewhere. The original Cake Thai location in MiMo is still around. Shamefully, we have to admit we haven’t been. But that will change soon, and we hope you make the effort to visit, too. RIP to a great restaurant.