Globally renowned restauranteur Arun Waney who has a few restaurants I admire and frequent – Zuma, Coya and Le Petite Maison – has just opened his first restaurant in South Beach, Miami at 2000 Collins Avenue, across from the Setai Hotel and around the corner from the Bass Museum and just in time for Art Week in Miami. His other properties are in London, Dubai, Istanbul, New York and he has a Zuma and Coya in Brickell. Come this January he will also be opening Le Petite Maison there as well. Why are all the good restaurants opening in Brickell!! How about the tourists and snow birds of Miami!!

This place had a lot of pre-opening hype.
Dôa, pronounced, “Dow-ah”, is a new concept restaurant from the group. It is a more affordable, casual place, that will be open from 5pm-5am seven nights a week, plus weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday from noon. The food is Latin/Asian, featuring raw, steamed, robata grill dishes, plus dim sum, ceviches, tiraditos, Makis, skewers, steamed buns and hot pots. Actually, many of these types of dishes are found already at Coya and Zuma, except they do them a lot better.

The place is large – about 5,000 square feet, and holds about 160 seats inside as well as a nice size outside terrace. The bar is the central focus in the room. It has corrugated distressed metal surrounding it, and famed artist Mr. Brainwash, tagged it himself with the words, “Life is Beautiful”. As a matter of fact, all the art is from Mr. Brainwash. You can tell he likes model Kate Moss, as she is prominently featured throughout the restaurant. There is a DJ station, and cool music plays all night long. There is also a sushi station. The place is aesthetically attractive, and nicely decorated, in a modern, casual chic way.

Upon entering I would say the greeting was a little icy, as it is in all of Mr. Waney’s establishments. I came early, the place was still very quiet, but they refused to seat me until my husband parked his car, even though we had a legitimate reservation. Speaking of parking, the lot next door was charging $40, but I am hoping this was just a thing during Art Basel, otherwise that is outrageous!!!! We parked 1 1/2 blocks south at the Redbury, where it was still a steep $30. I hate to be ripped off.

You know I am always honest with my readers, I have to say the food was a HUGE disappointment. There were no dynamic flavours, everything was exceedingly salty, and the meal was rushed, even though I explicitly told our waiter to slow things down. I just dislike getting 4 items at once. The plates are tiny and all the sauces and flavours can’t be appreciated, and you can’t distinguish between a pool of sauces. Each dish was on the small side, so you need to order quite a few items to be satisfied. The best dish of the evening was the steamed buns. We tried the pork belly and the soft shelled crab. They aren’t what I would call sensational, but they merit a mention The hamachi crispy rice was salty and nowhere as good as what you can get at Makoto or my favourite crispy rice dish at Pubbelly Sushi. The Doa maki roll was just okay. If you are featuring sushi on your menu, make it really good. The crispy fried squid has potential because it was tender and could be delicious if they cut back on the salt. We had to leave most of it because it became too much for us. The shiitake mushrooms were again too salty. I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but you get the general idea. The pork ribs would have a better balance if they were a touch sweeter. Our worst dish of the evening was the seafood hot pot, it was a gummy mess. I happen to love the mushroom and truffle hot pot at Zuma, why can’t they get it right here? I have to give the restaurant some slack because they literally just opened. But this group has a successful formula going, so it shouldn’t be so difficult to get the service and kitchen working smoothly. The chef is Carlos Estarita – I hope he can up his game, execute the dishes well and make this restaurant a trailblazer and contender like the others in the Waney empire.

Since the central focus of the restaurant is the bar, you would think they would have an extensive cocktail list, but no, our waiter rattled off 4-5 drinks and he said that was all they were offering?? What! The pisco sour was fair, I’ve had way better elsewhere. The wines by the glass were limited in choice too. Let’s hope this is improved as well, after all, this area is party central, but maybe the reputation of this restauranteur will make it a “hot spot” anyway.

A major pet peeve here is they add 18% service charge automatically and then have the nerve to bring back the credit card receipt to sign, and they have a line with the word tip!!! Isn’t that called double dipping?

For me “Dôa” means, “dead on arrival”. Cool place, but you’ve got to upgrade the food and service. I am too old for this and was very disillusioned.

Happy dining,
Shanea

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