It’s a maddening Miami conundrum: so much waterfront, so few restaurants to enjoy it from. But ever since The Standard opened around 14 years ago with its “social bathing culture”, luscious grounds, and its hippie-millennials wearing bathrobes all over the place, the bay-facing Lido Bayside Grill has been a favorite of locals looking to drink gallons of rosé, watching paddle boarders and million-dollar yachts zoom by, and splashing the hip oasis with wakes. Cue the visual smorgasbord. Wear your most expensive sunglasses.
But the restaurant lost some of its cache in recent years and was in need of a jolt of creativity and change. So we were jazzed to hear that The Standard is now hosting an Izakaya residency, with Japanese-inspired dishes made for sharing and hanging.
We tried roughly half the menu to bring you this important report.
First off, know that Izakaya isn’t sushi, it’s Asian pub food, perhaps even pool-hang hangover food, so expect plenty of umami-esque salty, savory, fried and belly-filling bites. (You know those friends who always order grilled vegetables and branzino when you go out? Leave them home to sweat on their Pelotons, for they will be better off.)
Come here for the Okonomiyaki, french fries in the style of a Tokyo bar loaded with Bonito flakes, bulldog sauce, nori and scallions creating an avalanche of briny flavors to balance out the fry. The veggie gyoza and shrimp shumai will satisfy your dim sum needs so add those on, too. Skip the kakiage corn fritters – they’re a bit too bready even for us gluten gluttons.
We loved the watermelon poke more than the salmon poke – both served with a kitschy box of Rice Krispies for crunch – and thought it paired well with the plate of “Rice”, which is topped with super crunchy furikake (a kind of Japanese spice mix verging on the brilliance of crack) and herbs. Let the rice soak up the sauce from the poke, and wash it all down with one of their shochu cocktails like the Jade Dew, made with shiso shochu, vodka, jasmine green tea, honey and yuzu. We also loved the seaweed salad.
Oh, there’s still a massive and perfect cheeseburger with fries available (and an Impossible Burger if you’re saving the world), served upon a French hamburger bun, in case you need some American ingenuity with your Izakaya. Note that each dish comes on its own colorful plate.
For dessert, get the decadent vegan molten chocolate cake, pair it with side scoops of deeply-flavored pistachio gelato, gaze out over Biscayne Bay on a sunny 60-degree November day, tourists striding past in bikinis. This – all this – is why we live in Miami.
Prices are reasonable with most snacky-plates going for $13 and larger dishes upwards of $20. Head to the izakaya popup at The Standard.