To appeal to Chinese investors who have a hankering for dim sum, braised Australian abalone or dragon well tea, Chinese entrepreneur Shanjie Li is launching an upscale restaurant in the Brickell area aimed at discerning tastebuds.
Months in the making, Da Tang Unique will open Feb. 6 at the Four Ambassadors, at 801 Brickell Bay Drive, a spokesperson for Li told The Real Deal.
The restaurant is a key step to bring deep-pocketed investors to Miami, Li, CEO of American Da Tang Group, has told TRD. His goal is to make South Florida a haven for affluent Chinese, with all the accoutrements they desire, including authentic Chinese cuisine.
“He’s creating a whole lifestyle and one-stop service for future Chinese investors to come to Miami,” his spokesperson said.
The move is part of the widespread effort to bring Asian capital to Miami, as economies in Latin America, Russia and other parts of the world falter, slowing the surge of foreign investment into South Florida. Yet China’s economy is also experiencing turmoil.
Li turned his interest to Miami in the past two years. His firm, the U.S. partner of an affiliate of China Communications Construction Company U.S. International, paid $74.7 million for a 2.4 acre Brickell site at 1430 South Miami Avenue in 2014 with plans are to build a condo project.
And last March, Li opened a Miami realty firm to focus on drawing more Chinese investors to the area.
Overall, Li has said he envisions three separate developments to appeal to investors: condos in the Brickell area, for business people; a golf community in Doral for vacationers keen on the sport; and a wellness center near the ocean for retirees and the “overworked.”
The 4,500-square-foot restaurant aims to be a major step in catering to Chinese tastes. Da Tang Unique’s decor features a Buddha statue, Chinese antiques and Chinese art. The dishes are also all imported from China, the spokesperson said.
To head the restaurant, Li has brought in Chef Kang Liu from Beijing, who was once the executive chef at the Shangri-La Hotels in China.
A lunch menu includes 12 types of dim sum, including steamed short ribs with Zi Jin chili sauce and Hong Kong crispy truffle roast pork bun, all priced from $12 to $25, rice and noodle dishes, from $12 to $18; and lunch entrees, from $15 to $30, like Sichuan spicy tofu and sauteed diced wagyu and asparagus with black pepper sauce.
A more extensive dinner menu includes starters and soups, topped off with sea cucumber and morel mushroom in royal consumme, $38; along with beef and lamb dishes, seafood, poultry and pork entrees, all priced from $25 to $148 — for sauteed A-5 Japanese wagyu bite cut in plum wine terriyaki sauce. Aromatic crispy duck in royal recipe, a two-course entree, is $96. A variety of Chinese teas, including dragon well, are also offered.
“The idea is for Da Tang Unique to on one hand offer all the Chinese community in town and the Chinese who travel and want to invest in Miami a good place to eat, and on the other hand, give local Miami people and tourists a better understanding and taste of real Chinese food,” the spokesperson said.
In South Florida, several developers and brokerage firms have also upped their efforts to appeal to Chinese investors in recent months. Paramount Miami Worldcenter brought in a Feng Shui consultant to design the project, and the Estates at Aqualina named its two towers with lucky numbers in Chinese culture.
International Sales Group added a Mandarin-speaking member to its staff to be able to communicate with buyers and form alliances, Philip Spiegelman, principal of ISG told TRD last year. The firm is also partnering with American Da Tang on efforts to reach Chinese buyers.
Cervera Real Estate also recently opened an Asian division, Cervera CEO Veronica Cervera Goeseke told TRD.
And last fall, the Asian Real Estate Association, or AREAA, launched a Greater Miami chapter. “Asians have been eyeing Miami for a while,” Carmen Chong, the 2015 AREAA national chairwoman said. “Miami is a city with such high energy and excellent education offerings.”