Q&A with Chef Jose Mendin of the new Pubbelly Sushi Market
Founded by The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, Pubbelly Sushi is led by five-time James Beard-nominated chef, Jose Mendin. Collectively known as the Pubbelly Boys, Mendin and his partners successfully operate six food and beverage concepts including Pubbelly Noodle Bar; Pubbelly Sushi (Miami Beach, Brickell City Centre, Casa de Campo, American Airlines Arena); Food Republic aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Escape ship; Pubbelly Station and Pawn Broker in the Langford Hotel; and the recently opened PB Ysla in Puerto Rico.
A native of Puerto Rico, Mendin was born into a culinary culture as the child of “food enthusiast” parents and a great-grandmother who was a cooking instructor. We recently spoke with Mendin to learn about his background and what Aventura Mall visitors can expect at the new Pubbelly Sushi Market.
Chef, what’s your earliest food memory?My mom stewing her red bean casserole in the kitchen.
How’d you learn to cook?I started cooking for myself in college. Then I took a job in a restaurant in Puerto Rico and quickly learned the basics. After that, I went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales.
You’re originally from Puerto Rico and have worked in Spain, London, Chicago and Las Vegas. Why’d you choose South Florida for your home base?I moved to Miami in 1998 and fell in love with it right away; there is no other place I’d rather live, besides my hometown of San Juan. The weather, multicultural setting and everything about this city makes it my home.
Where did the name Pubbelly come from?I was playing with words for the name of our restaurant and combined the word PUB from gastropub and BELLY from Pork Belly, which I used a lot in my original menu. When I said the name, my partners loved it and we thought it was catchy.
Why do you think Pubbelly restaurants have been so well received?I think it’s because we’ve combined a lot of what people want – good service, a nice environment & setting, and, of course, great food. We try as much as possible to create delicious food that keeps people coming back. Also, Miami was lacking in neighborhood restaurants that will take care of the locals…that was our goal: to remember your name, what you like, what you don't, steering away from overpriced robotic experiences which as we all know are easy to find in Miami.
Why was Aventura Mall such an ideal location for Pubbelly Sushi?Aventura Mall brings so many people together from different countries and cultures, that it is an opportunity for us to showcase our food and service on another level. We are very excited about this opening.
How would you describe the food at the new Pubbelly Sushi Market?Pubbelly Sushi Market is a faster, casual concept that includes only items from our Sushi bar.
Which signature dishes are you most excited to share with Aventura Mall guests?Our Tuna Pizza and our sushi rolls. Plus we recently introduced a new selection of Poke bowls.
Butter Krab Roll
Are there any special Pubbelly Sushi drinks you think shoppers will enjoy?Since this is more of a grab & go concept, we have a selection of healthy fresh juices and Japanese sodas.
Many believe sushi making is an art. Do you consider yourself an artist?I am just a chef that likes to make delicious food for everyone to enjoy.
We must ask…at which Aventura Mall stores do you shop?I love Bloomingdales, Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, Sur La Table and Coach.
Photos Credit: Juan Fernando Ayora @juanfayora