You’d be forgiven for assuming that Komodo is the reservation to make when you need a dinner that feels like one big red carpet.
The vaguely Asian Brickell restaurant is packed seven nights a week, stuffed to the brim both inside the dining room and on the two-story back patio, both of which are colossal spaces that feel like the Rainforest Cafe took a trip to Ibiza. Diners are dressed like extras in a Drake video, the word “truffle” is on the menu 13 times (“gold leaf” makes two appearances), and it’s all set to an untz-untz soundtrack that sort of makes the whole place feel like a nightclub’s VIP section.
Komodo is perhaps the most photographed, celebrity-frequented restaurant in Miami, which sure is saying something in a city that never stops snapping selfies or courting famous people. And the entire space pulses with an anticipatory buzz, like fidgety paparazzi aiming their cameras at a limo parked outside a movie premiere. Everyone is waiting for something to happen—something big and luxurious and once-in-a-lifetime.
But the waiting never stops, because Komodo doesn’t actually deliver that kind of experience. With the exception of the very good peking duck and the entrepreneurial men’s bathroom attendant—who might wordlessly start lint-rolling your black shirt as you bend down to wash your hands—Komodo never bothers to unroll its red carpet for you.
Instead, it sends you to the bar for ten minutes, even if you show up on time for your reservation. It offers severely underwhelming food at very overwhelming prices, like a $28 steamer basket with five truffle mushroom dumplings sporting a comically small quarter-shaving of said truffle. You can’t walk to the bathroom without getting elbowed and hip-checked by a small army of servers in what has to be Miami’s most chaotic dining room. Dinner feels somehow both rushed and boring. An automated message accompanies each reservation warning that your table is only reserved for one hour and 45 minutes, yet the meal could easily last two and a half hours thanks to slow service.
To make up for the restaurant’s lack of genuine excitement, you might hear a sporadic chorus of forced “Woos!” from surrounding tables. Guests hand their phones to servers, posing for photos to document, if nothing else, their outfits. Everyone in here sure seems ready for the party of a lifetime. Sadly, Komodo does not.
Cereal Rock Shrimp
This dish should really be called "cereal" because that's essentially what you're paying almost $30 for. The plate is pretty much just a big pile of slightly stale cornflakes. If you dig around underneath them, you'll find a handful of mediocre fried shrimp.
Truffle Mushroom Dumplings
There’s nothing terribly wrong with these dumplings. They have a decent flavor from the mushroom. But they only come five per order, and you’re really paying for the thin little sliver of shaved truffle atop each dumpling, which you can barely taste when you pop the whole thing in your mouth.
If you do find yourself eating here, beg the table to go in on the peking duck. It is (like everything here) more expensive than it should be. But it is (unlike everything here) actually delicious, with impressively crispy skin and plenty of rich, fatty meat. It also comes with cucumber, scallion, pancakes, and hoisin for your assembling pleasure.
Tuna And Toro Maki
This is another perfectly forgettable dish. The rice is a little hard, and it’s missing that satisfying fattiness we usually love about toro.
This is a big dessert consisting of ube flan, mango passion fruit gelee, banana ice cream, and fruity pebbles—all hovering over a circle of smoky dry ice. It’s tasty at first, but the toppings aren’t dispersed properly, and once you dig past the initial top layer you’ll find a pile of flavorless shaved ice.