Located in the vibrant art district of Wynwood in Miami, Palmar’s hole-in-the-wall feel and culinary expertise make this the perfect dinner spot for a night out. Executive chef, Albert Diaz, describes the fare as “Chinese cuisine with a Latin twist”, including highly revered traditional dishes such as dim sum and mixing them with flavors that pop. Our host chef de cuisine, Raymond Li, shared that he whimsically changes the menu at Palmar on a regular basis, depending on the fish selection available at the multiple local fisheries he frequents as well as what he is in the mood to make that day.
I had the pleasure of dining at Palmar on a Friday night, before the dinner rush began. As soon as my companion and I walked in, we were greeted by the staff and led to our table. The interior is small yet spacious, with eye-catching pink vinyl booths, elegant wooden tables and chairs, and, my favorite detail, low-hanging red lights with woven-basket shades. As the evening passed, the restaurant grew more populated but never to the point of feeling overcrowded, making Palmar a great intimate setting for a dinner with friends or a date-night.
The meal began with a delightful sparkling rosé and an assortment of dim sum. We started with the crispy prawns accompanied by Sichuan chili, an incredible house-made sauce with just the perfect amount of kick to it. This was followed by duck confit dumplings with a mouth-watering 5 spice aioli and pickled red ginger. Then came the veggie egg roll with pickled ginger, charred cabbage, and juniper berry juice and the shrimp har gow in a vinegar soy sauce garnished with an original Palmar twist: powdered sesame. Before the main course, the chef sent out what was easily one of the front runners of the night: Chinese broccoli served with a hibiscus-infused tonkatsu (cabbage) sauce. Not only was this dish beautifully presented, but the slightly flowery infusion mixed with crisp vegetables and crushed pistachio had us talking about this plate for the rest of the night.
After a brief respite and a round of floral Chokaisan sake (highly-recommended), the chef brought out a generous portion of fried rice with scallions, coriander, and duck egg yolk. The richness of the duck egg was balanced by the fresh coriander, and the texture of the rice was soft without being overcooked. Although we felt that we couldn’t possibly take another bite, we magically found room for the scrumptious lychee and granny smith apple slices and 5-spice egg custard for dessert. The egg custard was an incredible gastronomical experience: the top layer included a fluffy coconut espuma covering a yuzu-mango marmalade with a delectable coriander crumble at the bottom. It was the perfect amount of sweet with just a little savory, a hint of spice, and a delightful crunch to top it off.
From start to finish, I enjoyed every moment during my dinner at Palmar. The ambiance is exactly what you would hope for when dining in Wynwood, the service was stellar, and the food was exquisite. The food selection is diverse enough that anyone could find an option suited to their preferences, yet refined enough to not overwhelm one with choices. I do not exaggerate when I say that I greatly look forward to my next dining experience at Palmar!