Miro Kitchen of Fairfield, Connecticut, represents the next wave of Asian-inspired restaurants.
Opened in March of last year, Miro (pronounced My-Row) hardly plays it safe with its eastern influences. This is not the place to please a mild palate. Nearly everything on the menu, dishes and drinks alike, is notably sweet, spicy or salty — or some potent combination thereof.
“Properly blended together, that creates a real depth of flavor that can remind you a week later of something you had here and bring you back for more,” explained owner Eugene Kabilnitsky during a recent media tasting.
He’s careful not to describe the theme at Miro as “Asian-fusion.” That phrase is too limiting for the menu. Instead, Kabilnitsky prefers “Asian-influence,” while noting the healthy doses of Caribbean and Southern influences as well.
Like in the decadent Crispy Shrimp & Grits ($21), with coconut shrimp, white cheese grits and hot oil. Or the General Tso’s Cauliflower ($12), with sweet chili sauce and sweet potato, a tasty and imaginative take on the American staple. Or in any number of Miro’s house cocktails (all $11) effectively put Asian twists on classic recipes. I had time (and room) to sample four:
1) Old Fashioned Green Tea
Bourbon, citrus, green tea
There’s something magical about a simple cocktail that just plain works.
This three-ingredient drink starts off like a typical Old Fashioned, with citrusy, whiskey aromas and flavors (though with a note of the tea). It’s in the finish that the green tea shines, giving the cocktail a smooth, subtle, bitter finish that balances out an overall sweetness.
The end result is a seamless pleasant journey from the initial aromas and flavors to the unexpected finish. Old Fashioned aficionados will want to check out this intriguing version, though anyone who’s palate does not prefer sweet may want to pass for something else.
White and dark rum, tequila, gin, vodka, St. Germaine, tropical fruit juices
Named perhaps after a short-statured Filipino actor, the cocktail is nevertheless a tall order. The recipe at first reminded me of the “jungle juice” we’d make in college by pouring together everything on the liquor shelf. And basically this tasted like a much better version of that: a high-end, boozed-up punch.
Served appropriately in a Tiki glass, the Weng-Weng’s exotic fruit flavors were balanced by a powerful blast from all that alcohol. Sip slowly with a dish that can hold its own. Like the Hanger Sushi ($15), a hunk of steak atop rice with a miso glaze and wasabi crema.
3) Cambodian Mule
Coconut vodka, sake, kaffir lime, fresh ginger
Here’s a light drink for those whose tastes are less extreme. Which is not to criticize the cocktail. This mule was subtle and flavorful, with the coconut coming through perfectly in the mid-palate. The ginger finish was not too much.
I serendipitously ordered the Cambodian Mule as we chowed down on the Korean Short Rib Tacos ($6). The cocktail’s light profile and little ginger kick paired perfectly with the juicy mild meat of the dish.
Tequila, grapefruit, Thai chili, calamansi
Garnished with a slice of grapefruit poked through with a red chili pepper, this cocktail (pictured atop) is not as spicy as it might appear. Though there’s definitely a kick with the tequila and chili. But the Thaigarita will not leave you red in the face from spiciness.
Rather, you get smooth progression from sweet to grapefruit to spicy finish. It’s a well-paced, well-balanced cocktail. Hotter dishes make an obvious pairing, like the Curry Noodle Soup ($9), with curry, coconut milk and vegetables. This soup has a fun spicy vegetal crunch, the sort of memorable moment and cross-cultural twist that makes a modern, Asian-influenced restaurant like Miro worth visiting and emulating.
Kyle Swartz is associate editor of Cheers Magazine. Read his recent piece on 6 Craft Beer Stats To Watch In 2017.