Miami has become a hotbed for gastropubs. But unlike any other we have seen, Finka Table & Tap, a Miami Top 25 Restaurant, is known for its fusion of Korean, Cuban, and Peruvian cuisine. And also for its unusual location.
“Finka’s different mainly because of where we’re located,” says Eileen Andrade, chef and owner at Finka. “We’re in West Kendall in this very unassuming shopping center, and when you walk in here, you’re transported.”
Andrade’s work ethic and culinary background were instilled by her family early on. Her grandfather opened the well-known Islas Carnitas on Coral Way in Miami years back. “Working with my grandparents and my parents definitely instilled something very important as an owner of a restaurant, which is hard work, dedication…,” says Andrade. “And if you don’t have that, your employees don’t respect you.”
“The fusion of Korean and Latin cuisine was a no-brainer. It’s bold flavors, it’s colorful, it’s saucy. It’s something that was extremely easy, and that’s why I opened Finka the way I did,” Andrade says. “Because once I started to pair things, I was just like, ‘Okay, perfect — kimchi goes amazing with rice and beans.”
Andrade learned how to cook Korean authentically through traveling. She went to Korea and took cooking classes from an older, retired woman. “She had nothing to do, and she said, ‘Come meet me at 7 a.m. every day at my studio and I’ll teach you.” Andrade did that for a few weeks, falling in love with the culture and cuisine even more in the process.
In this “Table 42” vignette, Andrade makes Korean fried chicken for us, which was brined for 24 hours beforehand. First, it’s tossed in cornstarch and then fried at 350-degrees. While waiting, a KFC sauce is made of sesame oil, fresh minced garlic, kimchi flakes, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, mustard and ketchup, and gochujang, a Korean red pepper paste. Once out of the fryer, douse the chicken all up in that sauce, and top with sesame seeds.
What’s in a Name
Before landing on “Finka,” Andrade says the team was thinking of naming the concept Patio “because our patio area was going to be all outdoors.” After consideration, they decided against the open patio because of Miami’s inconsistent and oftentimes humid weather. So, the naming convention became an ode to Andrade’s grandfather — Finka was the name of the farm he grew up on.
“When you walk into Finka, I want people to be transported. I want them to feel like they are not in Miami anymore…I want them to grasp the whole idea behind this, which is nothing complicated — it’s just good food, a really cool vibe, really good cocktails, fun service that’s not too formal but not too informal,” says Andrade. “And I just want them to know that anything is possible. If Finka can make it in the middle of nowhere really, then as long as you have passion and dedication, anything is possible.”