As kitschy as it may be, tiki culture, unlike disco, has never gone out of style. While your frame of reference of tiki may be limited to the Hawaii episode of The Brady Bunch, let South Beach’s newest and, dare we say, hippest hang, Drunken Dragon, educate you and your pals properly. The breezy, barbecued brainchild of the folks behind South Beach’s not-so-secret-anymore Foxhole, Drunken Dragon is, first and foremost, a Korean barbecue restaurant so sizzling you and your well-heeled pals may be knocked off your feet. So point your toes in the direction of the 300-pound hunk of Oregonian Douglas Fir suspended from the ceiling that doubles as a communal table–your party spot for the night–and get ready for a multicultural feast.
The food’s coming, but first: cocktails. A retro modern spin on the classic Mai Tai is a good primer, with a fusion of two types of Caribbean rum, dry curacao, almond syrup, and fresh lime. Or perhaps you’re more the Loca Linda type, with spiced rum and coffee-flavored tequila creating a bit of tropical heat. As you take in the colorful scene featuring Japanese fantasy pictures and hanging lanterns, you’ll quickly realize that this is not your aging Hollywood starlet’s Trader Vic’s. In fact, you might be looking at your new hangout, one that happens to be open until 6am on weekends–just in case.
While none of your group are gourmet chefs, you’ll feel somewhat proficient when you sit before the sleek Korean barbecue tables on which you will expertly grill New York strip, skirt steak, beef tongue, short rib, pork belly, chicken, shrimp, and all sorts of seasonal veggies. Sauces range from simple sesame oil to a more zippy bulgogi. For those of you who prefer not to cook your own food, fret not, there are also tables from which you are able to order food prepared by the experts in the kitchen. Food such as rice cakes, sesame, ssamjang, scallion and herbs, salt roasted beets, chicken skin, scallion, cucumber and hoisin, or rawstuffs including tuna tataki pizza. Throw all your Bradyfied preconceived notions out the door—this is tiki—turned up and torched.
Photo by Sam Howzit