Yuga: My Favorite Miami Restaurant
"What's your favorite restaurant?" That question got us all thinking. If we had to choose one top dog at gunpoint, what would it be and why? Each week, a different Short Order blogger will celebrate his or her favorite eatery -- be it celebrity-chef-driven or a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall.
For a vegetarian, Miami can feel like a no man's land. The city is heavy in South American influence, so herbivorous offerings are less than prevalent. Everywhere you look -- pig parts, cow carcasses, chicken flesh. It's almost enough to make you wanna flee to the meatless promised land of California. (But not quite.)
The worst part of giving up meat: not eating sushi. Fish-free sushi is generally uninspired, boring -- super lame. Cucumber rolls? Avocado rolls? Bleh. And though I've given in to sushi cravings from time to time, I try to avoid fish as I do all other flesh.
But Yuga saved me from being forced into an existence of sacrificing good eats for my principles. This charming little Asian spot is a shining beacon for the meatless masses. Particularly sushi nuts like myself.
Unremarkably simple, tucked away on a Gables side street, Yuga is small and serene. Single flowers top the tables; Japanese characters adorn wall hangings. The waitstaff is calm and polite. Service is always spot-on, and though there's always a comfortable number of customers, I've never seen it crowded.
Offering an extensive selection of sushi, noodles, and other Asian fare, Yuga's menu appeals to herbivores and omnivores alike. So, fellow vegetarians, you can cart your meat-eating friends along and no one will whip out the "rabbit food" cliché.
It's hard for me to stray from the seven mouthwatering, meat-free sushi rolls here, but everything else I've sampled has been equally impressive. That includes the miso-ramen, generous and flavorful; the wild mushroom salad, tangy and fresh; and the vegetable red curry, spicy and satisfying.
But here are my favorite menu items -- the ones I crave, the ones I could eat every day: the slightly sweet, crunchy "avocado crunch" roll (wonton crisps, cream cheese, and cucumber topped with sliced avocado and mango sauce), and the creamy, moist "green wonton" roll (asparagus, wonton crisps, spinach, and cream cheese that's fried and served with an orange-mustard sauce). Those two remarkable creations are $7 apiece. A steal.
Yuga's five other vegetarian rolls are equally creative and all insanely delicious. And even for carnivores, these rolls are so substantive you won't even miss the meat. Promise.
Oh, and the Thai doughnuts -- to die for. They'll melt in your mouth. They'll haunt your dreams.
So go forth and make our animal friends happy. After all, Yuga makes it exceptionally easy to abstain from eating them.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.