Wajiro's Restaurant Takes Cuban Cuisine Up A Notch

Categories: Review
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Wajiro's Mar Habana seafood dish aka Cuban comfort food.
Sometimes success is a simply a matter of divine intervention. By the end of last year, Wajiro's restaurant on 127th Avenue and SW Eighth Street was a shadow of its former self. Serendipitously, through a series of seemingly inconsequential events, Otto and Sonia De La Torre took ownership of Wajiro's two months ago and have transformed the restaurant into a popular local eatery once again.

The couple made an offer when the restaurant went up for sale late last year. Sonia explains that rather than stressing about whether or not the offer would be accepted, she left it up to a higher authority, telling Otto, "If it's meant to be, it will be. It's up to God."

Apparently, God approved and the couple, along with their two adult sons, David and Jonathan, made immediate changes. One of which also seemed a bit, let's say, celestial. Chef Jose Angel Perez, who had consulted on the menu for Jennifer Lopez's now defunct Los Angeles restaurant, Madre's, as well as Glendale, California's Sabor, just showed up at Wajiro's doorstep one day.

As Otto tells it, "He was just standing there, holding a black briefcase, and he told me, 'give me a week to tell you what's wrong in the kitchen and then give me two months to fix it'."

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Masas de Puerco Wajiro style: Pork chunks and fried green plantains on a skewer.
Guided by pure instinct, Otto hired Perez on the spot and diners are rejoicing. Perez has made several changes, not only to the dishes offered, but more importantly, to how they are prepared, all while maintaining a Latin-inspired menu. And he fulfilled his promise to restore order to the kitchen.

We watched Perez in action and we can only say, "Cuban Chef Ramsey." He describes his penchant for order, "You see my hands? Everyone in the kitchen must always have clean hands even when wearing gloves. A chef must always be clean. I teach my kitchen helpers that. I tell them, 'If you see me holding a cleaning rag, you better be holding two.'"

Not ones to argue, we decided it was time to eat and ordered the Wajiro Platter ($14.95) as an appetizer, which comes with a corn tamale, fried pork and chicken breast chunks, croquettas, papas rellena, and stuffed yucca. Everything was superb, particularly the chunks and the papas rellena, a cute twist on the classic Cuban stuffed potato ball - these are teeny tiny. A word of advice, only order the Wajiro Platter as an appetizer if you're with at least three other people, if not you'll be too full to eat anything else.

Location Info

Wajiro's

12670 SW 8th St., West Dade, FL

Category: Restaurant

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