Named after the pillars of destiny in Chinese astrology, Bazi by Chef Michael Pirolo and his partner, Jen Chaefsky, opened for service at Miami Beach’s historic Marlin Hotel in September. The restaurant, from one the region’s most well-known culinary power couples, features the complex, layered flavors Pirolo is known for and a technique-driven menu designed for an unforgettable culinary journey through the Far East. “We love this style of food and have been playing with the idea of an Asian concept for years,” says Pirolo, who owns and operates Macchialina Taverna Rustica with Chaefsky, also on Miami Beach. “But Bazi is not a traditional restaurant by any means. It’s our take on Asian cuisine but it’s not about replicating a classic dish in every way; it’s about taking classic dishes, honoring their traditions and taking them in a new direction but never losing the heart and soul behind them.”
The menu, executed by Pirolo and Chef de Cuisine Brett Collier, is intended to set the table for a convivial feast. Guests begin with dishes from the Raw or Starter sections, moving on to Noodles & Rice and Vegetables, arriving at their final “destiny,” Chef’s Specialties. Committed to sourcing from local and small, national farmers and purveyors, ingredients will rotate in and out seasonally.
Raw offerings and Starters include Hamachi Sashimi ($18); Chirashi Bowl ($22) with Tuna, Hamachi, King crab, and Bazi rice; a Green Papaya Salad ($14) presented tableside with a crisp wonton dome; Cantonese Style Florida Shrimp ($20) dressed with ginger, chives and Shaoxing wine; irresistible Short Rib Buns ($14) with pickled vegetables; and pan-seared pork belly Gyozas ($14). Standout Noodles & Rice options include Duck Udon ($22), Peanut Noodles ($26) with King crab and sweet shrimp, and pork, vegetable or shrimp Fried Rice ($16-$20).
Chef’s Specialties include a whole Peking Duck ($96), finished tableside and served with duck lo Mein, Chinese pancakes, pickled melon, and traditional Asian toppings. “We are obsessed with Peking duck and it had to be a staple here,” Chaefsky says. “It’s a long process to make Peking duck and make it right but it was a must for us.”
To that end, advance reservations for an order of Peking duck are recommended as only a limited amount will be available each night. Those looking to heat things up will enjoy the Lobster, Our Fickle Friend ($40) served with black rice, a mild “happy” butter and spicy “angry” foam. Seafood, such as the Whole Fried Snapper ($32) served deboned, is caught fresh and delivered to the restaurant from an Islamorada fisherman on a daily basis. For the adventurous, a Chef’s Tasting Menu is available for $70 per person. Vegetables ($9-$12) make the perfect accompaniment to any meal, with options ranging from Enoki mushrooms and asparagus to cabbage.
The beverage program, overseen by Macchialina and Bazi beverage director William Rivas—best known for his work at Sra. Martinez in the Miami Design District—includes an mix of Classic, Contemporary, and Conceptualized cocktails as well as Sake by the glass, Asian beers, and an expansive wine list. For a traditional Asian dining experience the restaurant also offers a Gong Fu tableside tea service with a selection of JoJo tea blends. Imbibers can enjoy Classic cocktails such as the Negroni with gin, Gran Classico bitters and sweet vermouth and The Scofflaw made with rye, dry vermouth, lemon, grenadine, and orange bitters. Contemporary concoctions include the Xiao Qungxin Fashion with lemongrass infused bourbon, Kalamansi honey and 5 Spice bitters along with the Raise Yo Pinky Up featuring jasmine infused vodka, honey syrup, and lemon served in a tea cup. Unique Conceptualized drinks include a Whiskey and Tea Highball with 12-year-old scotch infused with apple, black tea, and Apple Air, and the Text an Uber, served frozen, with Don Q Rum, a spicy ginger syrup, lime, and finished with a 151 floater. A table can also order Rivas’ large format cocktail served in a Shochu Barrel the Sharing is Caring ($30, two person minimum), a 32-ounce concoction, which will change regularly.
The dining room, with seating for up to 70, is rich with East Asian décor elements including elegant gray tufted banquettes, sleek pendant lighting, and a massive gold dragon that overlooks the space. Guests can enjoy a drink at the bar and lounge with seating for up to 25. Those looking to enjoy the views of bustling Collins Avenue can request outdoor seating, available for up to 20. A slim staircase leads to the mezzanine level private dining room which overlooks the main dining room and accommodates up to 16 guests.