Best South American Restaurant 2000 | Kona Kai | Foodstuff | South Florida
Here's a quick geography lesson: Peru is on the continent of South America. Now here's a quick history lesson: Peru has a large Chinese community. So large, in fact, that Chinese food is a staple in that country. Traditional Chinese fare influenced classic Peruvian cuisine, and the results are served at little places called chifas. Kona Kai, Sunrise's own chifa, continues in the grand tradition of Latin-Chinese fusion with dishes like stir-fried chicken with tangy tamarind sauce or roast pork with pickled turnips. The décor here isn't much, but that's not a problem, since all eyes are usually on the sea bass eggs, and all mouths are busy with pork lo mein.
This five-year-old, family-run restaurant -- once a fancy French restaurant, hence the dark woods and linen tablecloths -- is not only the best place for walleyed pike, it's probably the only place. At least that's what owner Eddie D (short for D'Ambra) says. He wouldn't even be serving it if it weren't for some business associates who once took him fishing in Minnesota. From then on he was hooked on this cold-water whitefish. So mild. So tender. So flaky. So delicious when it's sautéed in lemon butter and white wine, which is how Eddie D prepares it. Served with fresh vegetables and your choice of starch, the pike, flown in from Minnesota, will set you back $17.95. But go ahead anyway, and while you're at it throw in another three bucks for the authentic Rhode Island clam chowder (the D'Ambras are from Providence), a clear version not to be confused with the creamy New England variety.
You can scorn Toojay's for being a chain. You can forswear it for trying too hard, for having a huge menu with every type of Eastern European delicacy imaginable. You can even boycott it for its non-delilike name. Go ahead. That just leaves more for us. And we not only don't argue with the quality of Toojay's delicatessen, we laud it. Corned beef here is flavorful without being fatty. Matzo balls are light, rather than heavy like the cement found at other local delis. Blintzes, potato pancakes, and chopped liver could all win over Grandma despite her best intentions to remain loyal to her own recipes. But you don't have to take our word for it. Stop in yourself for a deep whiff of the spices that fill the air. When it comes to delicatessens, the nose, as they say, knows.
Nobody cheered when Boca Raton's Nick & Max's restaurant, a joint effort between nationally known chef Nick Morfogen and restaurateur Dennis Max, went out of business less than a year after it opened. But the gastronomically minded were delighted to see both land on their ladles and were particularly thrilled to see Morfogen remain in the region, going straight to 32 East. Already a local favorite for fine dining, 32 East went up a notch when Morfogen took over the kitchen. His signature fusion style, blending classic American ingredients with European technique, is complemented by superior service and a wonderful drink list. (Try infused vodkas or microbrew draught beer.) Now 32 East is attracting patrons from all directions, not to mention multiple counties and even states. What can we say? We can't get enough of his solid, satisfying cooking.
It all depends on what you mean by power. If you mean business suits and cell phones, you'll probably see a few of them here during the lunch hour. But if you're talking supremacy, mastery, or even just some serious clout -- that kind of power -- then you're speaking about executive chef-proprietor Eduardo Pria. The return of the founding chef to this wonderful regional Mexican restaurant has resulted in more than sumptuous dinners stemming from such areas as Oaxaca and the Yucatán. Now the gourmet hacienda has started serving lunch for the first time ever, a practice we hope becomes an institution -- and a powerful one at that.
It's 1 a.m., you can't sleep, and there's nothing on TV except infomercials and Bewitched reruns. What to do? Hightail it over to Rickey's, where you're sure to find a few other friendly faces: nurses from Hollywood Memorial Hospital, police officers on the night shift, and other night owls. Take advantage of a special on chicken wings -- 25 cents each -- from 12:30 a.m. to closing, which, by the way, is 3 a.m. during the week, 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 a.m. Sunday. The unassuming rust-color building that has been a mainstay of Hollywood since 1955 is a favorite hangout for Herald reporters, the guys from Hollywood Woodworking, and firefighters, who get a discount if they're in uniform. With its high-backed wood booths, expansive center bar, stained-glass Coca-Cola hanging lamps, seven TVs blaring sports and a popular trivia game, and a jukebox in the back, the small room has a cozy feel, although the din can be deafening during the peak hours of 6 to 9 p.m. Most come for the weekday special -- a pitcher of beer and a platter of 20 wings drowning in mild, medium, or hot sauce, all for $9.95. The chicken wings are shipped three times a week from Alabama, and the sauce is so popular that the owner bought his own plant in Louisiana and exports the fiery condiment to Europe and the Middle East, which apparently have a huge appetite for the stuff. As does Hollywood.

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