By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
The oysters ($18 for a half dozen), it turns out, are mushy and spermy. They're really terrible, with a flavor and consistency that would turn even the most ardent swallower into a spitter. Chef Berkower's concoction of ponzu, chilies, and daikon doesn't make them any more palatable; it just adds a helping of slime and salt to the grayish spunk.
I turn my attention to my partner's Char Sui sugar-cured boneless ribs ($13) with Chinese barbecue sauce. These little morsels, we agree, are pretty good — a nice touch of crunch in the fat and a gooey, burnt sweetness in the mild sauce. They've been prettily served on a banana leaf. They don't remind me of anything I've ever seen in a bedroom, and I appreciate that.
Next up: A whole crispy fried snapper ($34), a bowl of "duck duck soup" ($16), and a side of braised Chinese eggplant with tofu ($9). The snapper looks beautiful, friendly. I love whole cooked fish — their cloudy eyeballs and their panko-coated tails. I like the way they seem to be swimming theatrically sideways on your plate, as if performing a hard-to-master trick. More and more, I prefer to look my food in the face before I eat it. Our waitress deftly removes flesh from bone, sprinkles generous handfuls of mint and Thai basil, and pours on the sauce. The snapper is fragrant and moist; the whole herb leaves are delicious. But this fish, like the duck duck soup I'm sharing with my nonspouse, is something I've had before, more authentically and way cheaper, at Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. Her soup, anyway, is a bland nonentity of duck meat strips in watery broth, definitely not too hot to be legal. And relatively flavorless compared to the punchy Thai tom yum gais and head-clearing Vietnamese phos we love and live for. You can dress your hotel food up in fancy duds — but anybody can throw a bag of frozen edamame into a pot, and we can order braised eggplant just as good as Aizia's, if not better, from the neighborhood Chinese takeout. I'd opt for the obscenely rich dish from China Dumpling in Boynton Beach before I'd drive two miles for the version at Aizia.
Even dessert, for which my nonspouse is always a complete pushover, left us feeling limp and unenamored. Chocolate banana spring rolls ($9) tasted like warmed-over baby food inside; the accompanying lemongrass ice cream would have been swell if it hadn't absorbed refrigerator odor, and the mango sauce... well, the whole dessert was a cliché, straight from the smudged and dog-eared pages of Pan-Asian-Fusion for Dummies. Certainly not anything you'd want to smear all over your girl-toy during a makeout session. This was a meal without any gastronomically redeeming qualities. Our dinner at Aizia was to fine dining what pornography is to literature. And it sure wouldn't take any court of law to tell the difference.