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Gigi
Cheap Pan-Asian from a stud chef

Westerners have learned so much from Asia: Uma Thurman gained deadly skills from Pei Mei, Ralph Macchio perfected wax on/wax off, and...wait, all we've learned is martial arts? They invented the damn CD player! Remedying that with food, the guy behind Gigi.

Helmed by Top Chef contestant Jeff McInnis (a culinary gypsy who's picked up Asian skills all over), Gigi puts out surprisingly affordable pan-Asian fare into the wee hours of the AM, and puts you amongst the working gears of a giant gastronomical mechanism thanks to a super-long food bar running along a bustling, completely exposed kitchen -- man, that kitchen will do anything for attention. McInnis's dedicated to local ingredients (fruits from Homestead, fish from the Keys) and divvies his menu into categories including "Raw", repped by tuna & avocado wrapped in a see-through cucumber skin, plus stuff like Gigi Buns (thin folded Asian bread filled with pulled pork, peanuts, and hot sauce) and "Southern Boy" BBQ short ribs from the "Basic" section...damn, this dude knows how to SELL! "Grill" options include Key West shrimp with ginger butter, "Rice" means fried soft shell crab with a funnel cake-ish crust over charred mango, and for the "Noodle" category it's chow fun w/ skirt steak, shiitakes, red pepper dust, and super-thick fun noodles -- which're almost as fun as pool noodles, and way more delicious, so you can finally stop eating pool noodles.

For dessert there's house-made soft serve in iterations like chocolate malt, tangerine, coconut, and lemon grass, while imbibables focus on American wines and Asian and American brews such as Singha, Kirin, Rogue's Morimoto Soba Ale, and White Rascal -- also Mr. Miyagi's secret nickname for Ralph Macchio, although you really shouldn't go go down to Best Buy and tell him that.

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