The first thing we have to talk about with Zitz Sum is that bao bun. It is, we suppose, kind of like other Chinese buns you’ve had. But just better—in every single way. It starts with that super tender brisket in the center. Then the bun, seared until it’s as crackly as a crème brûlée topping, with a sweet- tangy-spicy hoisin sauce and pickled veg on the side to cut the richness. It’s the kind of dish you finish and want to call somebody to tell them about it.
Then the next dish arrives, and it’s the same damn thing: some insane combination, some fusion of cuisines you didn’t know could exist, some bite that you want to make sure everyone you know also tries. Zitz Sum is, at its core, a mad experiment that turned into something truly special.
The man who made this all make sense is Pablo Zitzmann, a chef whose background brought him to this very moment. After finishing culinary school in Bogota, Colombia, he moved to Miami and began a career that included working under Michelle Bernstein, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Thomas Buckley. Wanting to learn more about Asian cuisine, he traveled to far-flung places and worked in kitchens in Honolulu and Hong Kong before returning to Miami. He headed the kitchen at No Name Chinese (frequently named one of the city’s best restaurants) until it closed in 2019 and then, during the pandemic, started a pop-up selling dim sum out of his house.
Zitz Sum is, at its core, a mad experiment that turned into something truly special.
It was during that pop-up when Zitzmann started creating combinations of things that had never been combined before, dishes so good he turned the concept into a brick-and-mortar location on Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables in 2021. There’s the cabbage, brined in kombu, blackened over coals, with the umami-set-to-10 from a sprinkling of parmesan. The totally original salad that looks as pretty as a bouquet, thin slices of almost meaty persimmons and plums, a crunch of Sicilian pistachios, and a bed of lemon crème fraîche. The extra-crunchy pork potstickers come in a Calabrian chili sauce that’s just almost too hot and also good enough you’ll want a bottle of it. Wontons arrive like cute little islands in the middle of a pho broth, reminiscent of Boia De’s en brodo dish, here a Southeast Asian-influenced version of an Italian staple. The Korean-style handroll comes layered in its separate parts—seaweed wrapper, egg salad, steak tartare, rice–ready for you to wrap them yourself in a game of figuring out how much you can stuff in each roll.
With all this attention on creative dishes, a lot of places would forget the other things, but Zitzmann built himself a charming spot in a quirky office building space. The inside feels like something out of New York’s East Village: all sort of mid-century-ish charming, full of outrageous wallpaper with a plywood-fronted bar that sits next to a waterfall quartz counter, plus simple tables that looked plucked from a deli and chairs in Polynesian prints. Out back there’s a leafy courtyard in the open center of the building, where the restaurant’s rocking soundtrack reverberates off the walls. It’d be hard to find a place in town where the servers know more about the dishes and the sake menu than this spot, where they’ll expect that you’re here to chill for a few hours.
Looking at photos of these dishes beforehand, there will be those who might feel intimidated, perhaps worried about the menu’s frequent mentions of ingredients every one of us has to look up. But you should go, you should try all the things, and by the end of the night, you’ll probably be texting photos to everyone you know.