Pao is headed by a Filipino chef and describes itself as “Drawing from a range of international styles including Filipino, Spanish, Japanese & French”. The dining room is beautiful:
I have had mixed feelings about dining here ever since a previous trip to Miami. 2 years ago, I made a reservation, had second thoughts, and then cancelled. Fusion food is tough to do, especially Asian fusion. However, if done right, it can be wonderful. My personal opinion is that the traditional versions of Asian food are so good, and well priced, that the bar is set very high for a fusion version. Unfortunately, I think Pao was not able to meet my expectations. Here was the menu for the night. I saw many potentially exciting things, mostly related to Filipino cuisine.
The first thing we ordered was the best thing that evening and IS something I would come back for. An uni “taco”. The rice and nori was very good and everything was delicious together.
The unicorn, which the chef is known for, was disappointing. Two of my favorite things are uni and corn. This dish combines both and should be amazing.
Next, a few dishes with Filipino influence including mushroom bistek which was very disappointing. Bistek is usually beef and is a perfect blend of soy sauce, acidity, and onions. This was not a good interpretation.
A couple other savory dishes and dessert that underwhelmed. Fried chicken with banana ketchup sounded amazing. Banana ketchup is unique to the Philippines (its more on the sweet side), but this version was not as flavorful.
72 Hour Smoked Wagyu Asado with Atchara and sweet potato puree. Again, lots of potential but not well executed. The dish lacked flavor. Also, for what was delivered, it missed the $69 price point.
Overall, the restaurant is a nice venue for a drink and people watching. The service was very good. The food had lots of potential and looked good on paper, but unfortunately, was not well executed.