Mike Hampton and his wife, Christy Samoy, meld New Orleans and Filipino favorites at Hot & Soul, a funky spot with a tiled bar and communal table in a Fort Lauderdale strip mall.
The couple met at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where Mike was on a track scholarship. They moved on to culinary school in Thibodeaux, La., an hour from New Orleans. After graduation, Mike worked at Emeril’s Delmonico and Christy was employed at Vega Tapas. Hurricane Katrina sent them west to San Diego, but they returned to Florida two years ago to open their own place.
Christy, who is Filipino and grew up in Lakeland, contributes the adobo, a savory stew of chicken in a marinade of soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar with bay leaves and pepper served with jasmine rice.
Mike makes the Gumbo Yumbo with ham hocks, andouille sausage and chicken, served on scallion rice, and pulled pork on a bun with pickles and bacon-dill potato salad.
Other dishes include coconut milk polenta with mushroom gravy and micro greens, Naughty Gnocchi with oxtail, basil and pecorino in tomato sauce and fried local snapper fillet, skin-on, with braised bok choy and oyster mushrooms in a blood orange-soy-butter sauce.
There is also mushroom and Manchego toast with sherry cream, country paté with mustard and mango paste and soba buckwheat noodle salad with cubes of tofu tossed in sesame oil, rice vinegar and mint with sriracha chile sauce.
This couple cook what they like to eat, and you should not miss their dulce de leche custard painted with a brush stroke of caramel glaze.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.