If you are anything at all like me, you love Thai food. Having been raised in a part of the country where there are basically no Asians, I never had Thai food growing up, but once I tasted it, I was hooked. After searching far and wide for a good authentic Thai restaurant in Miami, I was so excited to learn about Lung Yai Thai Tapas, which is located, of all places, in the heart of Little Havana on Calle Ocho. (1731 SW 8th St) Should you decide to venture out during the Gay 8 festival, or any other time you are feeling a bit spicy, run don’t walk to Lung Yai. This has to be among the best Thai places in Miami.

Since finding this place, my husband Alan and I have become regulars. The restaurant is quite small, especially for Miami standards, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in flavor and authenticity. Seating options are at an L shaped bar or at one of the few tables on an outdoor patio. (Outdoor seating only available at dinner) and all food is prepared right in front of your very eyes behind the bar. If you are lucky, Chef Bas (Veenuthtapon Trisransri) will be at the wok, the restaurant is his creation and the dishes come from his imagination.

As I have mentioned the food is amazing but here are a few of my favorites, all dishes are served tapas style so order a bunch and bring a pal to share with.

As starters, I recommend the Tom Kha soup ($5), the Grilled Pork ($9), and the chicken wings ($5). The Crispy Spring ($5) rolls are also a delight.  Tom Kha is a coconut milk based soup that contains lime juice, mushroom, galangal root, cilantro, and Thai herbs. You can order it with chicken, beef, or shrimp and as mild or spicy as you like. Like all the dishes, the soup is made to order and is the stuff of dreams, perhaps because it is freshly made. The Grilled Pork are small portions of pork ribs that are marinated and deep fried until they are crispy and perfect. They are served with a spicy vinaigrette dipping sauce. Lung Yai’s chicken wings are battered and deep fried and served with a mae ploy a sweet pepper dipping sauce. The spring rolls are delicate and handmade, filled with cabbage and veggies and served with a plum sauce for dipping.

I can’t leave Lung Yai Thai Tapas without having the Pad Woon Sen ($10) and the Massaman Curry ($12). As an extra side dish, my hubby and I often order the Fried Rice with Lump Crab Meat ($15). Pad Woon Sen is Pad Thai’s tastier cousin, a dish made with glass noodles, fresh tomatoes, onions, and celery and your choice of beef, chicken or shrimp. The ingredients are tossed together in a wok along with a little soy sauce and can be ordered as spicy as you like it. The Massaman Curry is a golden curry that is served with potatoes, cashews, onions, and garlic and is topped with avocado. You can also add tofu, beef, chicken, or shrimp for an up charge of $3.

All of the dishes at Lung Yai exceed expectations so go often and try out the different regional specialties. The restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner but pay attention to the timing of your visit. Lunch is served from 12pm-3pm with the last seating at 2:45. Dinner is served from 5pm-12am. Since the place is small, come early and be prepared to wait a few minutes. Trust me, it is worth it!

Let us know what you think of Lung Yai Thai tapas at Facebook.com/hotspotsmag. Hope to see you there!