Miami has a shortage of upscale, notable, Chinese restaurants, and so it was welcome news to hear another spot, Jia, had opened at 808 1st Street, just down the street from Milos. Most of the reviews were favorable and I looked forward to my evening.
The 2,500 square foot space was totally transformed from its prior occupants. It is difficult to describe the decor. It is a mishmash of tropical, Chinoiserie decorative art, and some interesting millwork. Natural wood accents, cool bamboo chandeliers, dragon veiled walls, and a wraparound bar at its heart. Chinese war movies, ninja style were playing on a large screen at the back of the restaurant. The soundtrack was playing a cool jazz background mix.
Our friendly server Ashley told us about the signature dishes and we ordered some beer and cocktails. Interestingly, that the beer choice was Japanese and not Chinese. Our cocktails were delightful but the evening meal went downhill from there.
I would not call their cuisine refined or upscale. Embellishing dishes with a few gold flakes or a truffle cannot mask inept cooking.
I hear that they have an award-winning executive chef called Weng Choon who put the menu together. The menu reads beautifully but whoever is in charge now has dropped the ball.
We were excited to try the blood orange sticky ribs, but all we could taste was salt. The black truffle sticky rice, which is supposed to be a signature dish had the consistency of porridge topped with gold flakes and was a disaster. The spicy shrimp tempura was neither spicy nor good. It was like a bad version of sweet and sour shrimps you would get at your local mall restaurant. The mini bao buns with pork belly were tasteless and ditto the shrimp dumplings. The crispy mushroom salad made with trumpet mushrooms, preserved red bean curd, arugula, and red cabbage was so difficult to eat as we were only given chopsticks. There was no arugula to be found but it was replaced by some type of leaf lettuce that was not torn but left in big chunks. How could you eat that without a knife and fork? That was comical to undertake and watch out dinner companions trying to get some into their mouths.
The Peking duck was the worst rendition I’ve ever had. It was carved in the kitchen, not presented well, and was of inferior taste. It is traditionally sliced thinly in front of the diners and is prized for its crispy skin and a little meat. It should have a moist flavour profile. Ours did not have crispy skin or moist meat. The pancakes were a hot steamy gloppy mess. We couldn’t even separate them to spread our hoisin sauce on. The condiments served with them were not sliced thinly enough. It was an utter disappointment and I was very disillusioned with our meal. Dessert looked appealing but was also a letdown.
I am wondering just who is writing these reviews?!? Be warned, do not to always trust resources like Yelp or Trip Advisor, where the restaurants can write these reviews themselves.
The restaurant is supposed to turn into a late-night entertainment venue on the weekends. I think this is a better bet. Come for some champagne by the glass or bottle, or a creative craft cocktail. But for me personally, I would avoid eating here if you are looking to indulge in some standout Chinese food.