5 WORD CRITIQUE: Delicious, Fulfilling, Sexy, Lit, Exclusive
INTRO: Through a mix of happenstance & networking, the FAME Magazine team was invited by the owners of the Mandrake restaurant, Nahim Jorge Bonilla & Melissa Granda, to be shown what a night out at their mysteriously chic restaurant in the heart of Miami Beach is like. Needless to say, we said yes and have the following to share about our experience.
Like walking into a scene of a James Bond movie, Mandrake is exactly where you’ll find the super villain and the super spy having a drink with their beautiful dates. The large heavy metal doors give the impression of you entering a place that is only meant for the “worthy”. Walking into the decorated hallway, you walk into a room with a bar, lit up trees and red carpets with paintings and artworks all around. The red in the room activates your senses and immediately you’re excited to be somewhere you’ve never been before without trying a single meal or drink. This bar area provides the perfect place for photos or just a drink with your date if you prefer to hang out before having a meal in the dining room where the tables are located.
Once you pass the bar area you walk through another wide hallway where your entrance into the dining room feels like walking onto a red carpet event and you’re the person everyone’s been waiting for. The dining area also has a smaller bar to the side with an open floor plan full of tables and booths that are perfect for everyone from couples to large groups to have a place to sit and eat. Across the room is a massive decorated wall with neon lights spelling out the phrase “Me So Horny” with a literal rhinoceros head coming out of the wall between the words “So” and “Horny”.
The general decoration of the space screams Gucci fused with Japanese Styles fused with Miami Beach’s essence into a perfect harmony of elegance and outrageous expressions of carefree fun. There is another back room that is closed off but visible with a glass wall for private parties which speaks to the vanity of Miami allowing the dining room to see those who sit beyond anyone’s reach but still be visible enough so that the dining room knows exactly who has dominated everyone’s position in this already high class space.
- The Mandrake is a stylish and exclusive bar and restaurant that evokes the atmosphere of a James Bond movie.
- The heavy metal doors and decorated hallway give the impression of exclusivity and luxury.
- The bar area is decorated with lit up trees and red carpets, with paintings and artworks all around.
- The dining room has a red carpet feel, with a small bar and an open floor plan with tables and booths.
- The decor of the space is a fusion of Gucci, Japanese styles and Miami Beach's essence, with a wall decorated with neon lights spelling out the phrase "Me So Horny" and a rhinoceros head, and a back room closed off for private parties.
The cuisine at Mandrake is a Japanese & Peruvian fusion allowing the best of both worlds from Sushi to Ceviche. All of the food prepared was easily shareable between the table which means you should keep this in mind rather then assuming all the meals are single person entres. In this particular night, we started with some classic edamame accompanied by fried Ebi Furai, California Maki Roll, and Salmon Tacos Nikkei. This was followed by a large bowl of Chaufa Fried Rice.
The edamame was steaming, moist, and the perfect starter for the pallet as we prepared to eat the other more seasoned food. Between the starters, the California Maki roll and Salmon Tacos Nikkei were not only tasty, but perfectly portioned and seasoned so you feel you get the best of taste and value. The California Maki Rolls were layered with toppings that surpassed any sushi previously eaten which is refreshing as Sushi is a meal that can usually cost more than you feel you’re getting in each roll. Salmon Tacos Nikkei however, had a hardshell taco with the perfect crunch in every bite without falling apart into a million pieces allowing you to enjoy the tacos. The flavor of the salmon and toppings was surprisingly delicious as tacos with salmon is an uncommon food that you wouldn’t know was good until you tried it.
If fried shrimp is on your list of favorite dishes, then the Ebi Furai dipped in their house sauces will light you up. The texture of the Ebi Furai was like opening a present on christmas and getting what you wanted. Even the outer fried layer of the Ebi Furai wasn’t too crunchy but also not too soggy that you felt like you were eating grease. When asked about the oil used to fry it, we were told that Mandrake’s kitchen only uses particular oils for cooking to allow the healthiest and highest quality meals. They are opposed to and do not cook with any kind of canola vegetable oils which is known for it’s carcinogenic and unhealthy properties when cooked into food.
Moving onto the final dish of the night, the Chaufa Fried Rice bowl (with shrimp) was the perfect meal to fill our stomach’s and end our dinner fulfilled. Between the seasoned shrimp and Chaufa rice, you feel as though you’ve woken up in Peru and have been given a high class version of a traditional dish. Even the bowl made of stone gave a whole other level to the experience knowing you could pick at the rice without the clanking and scraping of utensils on a plate which is always appreciated by those of us who hate the sound and feeling of scratching plates.
All in all the food at Mandrake earned 5 out of 5 stars with the perfect combination of taste, texture, and presentation. Coming to the Mandrake means you’re getting a guaranteed well cooked and portioned meal a long with an undeniable experience.
- Mandrake offers a Japanese and Peruvian fusion cuisine with dishes like sushi, ceviche, and chaufa fried rice.
- The food is shareable and well-portioned, perfect for groups.
- The edamame, California Maki roll, and salmon tacos Nikkei were all tasty and well-seasoned, providing good value for the price.
- The Ebi Furai was particularly delicious, with a perfect texture and flavor, and cooked in healthy oils.
- The Chaufa fried rice was a satisfying and authentic-tasting dish that was well-presented and served in a stone bowl. The reviewer gave the food at Mandrake 5 out of 5 stars and recommends the restaurant for both good food and a great dining experience.
A long with the delicious food and decorations comes the beauty of a Miami Beach based establishment with the presence of a live DJ and burlesque performance in the middle of the night. From the moment you walk into Mandrake you are hit with bumping club and dance music that is perfectly synced with the vibe of the moment. The DJ had a great touch of latino and house music blended into each other matching the already present fusion of cultures that the restaurant incorporated.
With music and food comes the Mandrake’s offering of flavorful and smooth hitting hookahs. Each hookah base is made glass or crystal with a flashing LED light inside of it giving a bit of an extra flare to a common experience offered at many Miami restaurants. The hookah we tried was with their house mixed flavor called LOVE 66. As a personal hookah lover, the smoke was way too smooth and delicious. It was refreshing to smoke a hookah that didn’t feel like it hadn’t been cleaned or properly packed with tobacco. This was truly one of the best hookah’s smoked within Miami Beach.
Just when we felt that the experience of being there and eating this great food was enough, the lights came on and the whole scene changed when a beautiful burlesque performer dressed as Marylyn Monroe appeared.
The DJ played her song and the rest was history, this performance had everyone’s eyes glued to her and the risque strip tease was cheered on and applauded as she made her way around the room removing one piece of clothing at each table she stopped at. To be clear, this was not a stripper on a pole, this was a classy yet sexy performance that had everyone (including girl friends/wives of the men present) smiling the entire time. Needless to say, this was a pleasant surprise of an experience that took the whole vibe to another level after already being in such a high place.
- The DJ plays a blend of latin and house music that matches the restaurant's fusion of cultures ambiance.
- The restaurant offers flavorful and smooth-hitting hookahs, with each base made of glass or crystal and an LED light inside.
- The hookahs are offered in different flavors, and the one tried was house mixed flavor called LOVE 66, which was smooth and delicious.
- A burlesque performer dressed as Marilyn Monroe appeared during the night, giving a classy and sexy performance that was cheered on by the audience. The performance was a pleasant surprise that took the vibe to another level.