More roaches than hot water and roaches in ovens among problems that closed 11 restaurants

Is it more unsettling or less unsettling when a restaurant’s non-roach violations have a higher Icky Factor than its live roach activity violations? Because that often seemed to be the case in this Roach Report, which features 13 Miami-Dade restaurants,

Is it more unsettling or less unsettling when a restaurant’s non-roach violations have a higher Icky Factor than its live roach activity violations? Because that often seemed to be the case in this Roach Report, which features 13 Miami-Dade restaurants, 11 of which got black flagged wholly or partially for live roach violations.

What follows is taken directly from state restaurant inspection reports. We don’t decide which restaurants get inspected, nor do we decide how strictly inspectors judge violations.

First, here are the restaurants for which roaches played a part in getting shut down for the day (or more):

The Back of the Road Sports Grill, 15420 SW 136th St., South Miami-Dade: Maybe there’s an inherent location problem. After double-dipping by appearing on the last Roach Report and Rodent Report, the Back of the Road Sports Grill is back. Two High Priority violations were spotted on March 5, the most glaring being “one live (roach) crawling on the floor, approximately 17 live roaches underneath a food prep table in the corners of the table and inside the folds of aluminum foil wrapped around the (prep table’s) bottom shelf.”

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As for those roaches that didn’t make it, “Approximately 30-40 dead roaches on the kitchen floor, food prep tables, inside mop sink.”

Hope you like whatever the cook or dishwasher brought for lunch, because “Employee personal food not properly identified and segregated from food to be served to the public.” Plus uncovered raw chicken sat in the reach-in freezer.

Back of the Road got enough right to open after the Mar. 6 re-inspection.

Bakanos Restaurant, 200 NW Eighth Ave., Miami: The Feb. 27 inspection saw “20-plus live roaches crawling on drain board above three-compartment sink, inside oven and inside kitchen equipment, and three dead roaches in the bar area.”

The inspector also found a dangerous level of ignorance. “Certified Food Manager or person in charge lacks knowledge of food-borne illnesses and symptoms of illness that would prevent an employee from working with food, clean equipment and utensils, and single-service items.” Not surprising considering the inspector also found “raw pork and raw chicken thawing at room temperature in kitchen back area.” As the USDA says, that can quickly turn the food into a bacteria fertility clinic.

Plus, the “bathroom located inside establishment not completely enclosed with tight-fitting, self-closing doors.”

Just on the roaches, the inspector saw little progress on his Feb. 28 re-check. The more than five live roaches in the kitchen area, where they were putting in new drywall behind the three-compartment sink, were outnumbered by the more than 10 dead roaches.

Bakanos finally re-opened after the March 2 re-re inspection.

China Tokyo, 2454 W. 60th St., Hialeah: In addition to the seven live roaches and 10 dead ones in and underneath the kitchen reach-in cooler and one live and five dead roaches on kitchen prep table shelves, there were 20 dead ones on the floor under the three-compartment sink.

As with other places, there was no soap or way to dry your hands at the hand-washing sink. But, it didn’t matter as the “plumbing system (was) in disrepair.”

Also, the fried chicken from Thursday sat uncovered in the walk-in cooler, as if every store in the area ran out of Reynolds Wrap.

They passed the Saturday re-inspection.

Crea Cafe at the Icon, 450 Alton Rd., Miami Beach: March started with an inspection and a failure. At least 11 live roaches in the kitchen and one who didn’t make it marred the March 1 inspection.

Other things that made the inspector frown included raw shrimp, cut tomatoes and crab cakes kept at too warm a temperature and the dishwasher not sanitizing at the minimum level. Storing tongs used for cooking on a door handle seems pretty icky, too, although it’s better than tongs shoved between kitchen equipment (where tongs usually are for this violation).

Aside from the dishwasher violation, Crea addressed all its problems for the March 2 re-inspection.

…approximately 12-plus live roaches crawling inside oven and in range grease trap trays.

from the March 1 inspection of El Don restaurant.

El Don, 445 NW 12th Ave., Miami: Don’t know what El Don fixes in his oven, but look closely if it comes with almonds: “approximately 12-plus live roaches crawling inside oven and in range grease trap trays.”

Other than that, there’s a litany of basic violations, such as the hand-wash sink lacked hot water, soap, paper towels or any drying mechanism. And “sink compartments of three-compartment sink too small to accommodate utensils or equipment.”

The latter was the only violation that remained after the March 2 re-inspection.

Hong Kong City, 7373 NW 36th St., West Miami-Dade: First, the bugs: the dishwasher had a live one on the outside, two dead ones on top and three dead ones underneath, five live ones in crevices of clean equipment racks; one live roach under a shelf that’s above a steam table; a live one on a kitchen wall near the waiter station, three live roaches in crevices under a shelf near the cookline; three dead roaches on the floor under the three-compartment sink; two dead bodies under crates in dry storage; and 10 dead ones on a wooden shelf by the cookline steam table and reach-in cooler.

Now, about that food. The manager had to toss the egg drop soup after it wasn’t kept warm enough. At the other end of temperature violations, the cabbage, corn, mushrooms, bamboo, sprouts and fresh garlic and oil weren’t kept cool enough.

And, as far as basic cleanliness: “Interior of microwave soiled with encrusted food debris”; “accumulation of food debris/grease on food-contact surface”; “build-up of food debris, dust or dirt on nonfood-contact surface”; and “soil residue in food storage containers, dry storage container.”

These March 2 problems got cleared up for the March 3 re-inspection.

New River Cafe, 19333 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach: As of March 6, approximately 15 live roaches were making their home inside a kitchen oven that didn’t work. Eight dead roaches were spotted throughout the establishment.

At least management’s cognizant of the problem, which they demonstrated by bringing a spray can of Raid. But that’s a violation, as Raid’s intended for home use.

And then there’s this: “Single-service articles stored on a soiled surface. On top of soiled shelf over reach-in cooler.” An employee stashed his cellphone in a food prep area.

When the inspector returned March 7, the kitchen area had two live roaches and two roaches as dead as business was that day — New River remained closed. New River ran again after passing the March 8 re-re-inspection.

Karen Cafe, 340 NW 12th Ave., Miami: When you’ve got more roaches than hot water as a restaurant, you’re in trouble. The live roach count went one inside the microwave, two by the kitchen hand sink and five in the kitchen reach-in cooler gasket. As for that basic of hot water, “Employee washed hands with cold water. No hot water in establishment at the time of inspection.”

To make clear as water, “Hot water supply not maintained during peak periods.” Maybe Karen’s management figured with no hot water, it didn’t matter whether you stored plantains in the hand-washing sink.

Karen’s got it back together in time for the March 2 re-inspection.

Observed detergent container in walk in cooler with liquid with a very strong urine like smell.

from the Feb. 27 inspection report of Sarku Japanese restaurant.

Sarku Japanese Food, 1455 NW 107th Ave., West Miami-Dade: Sarku got slammed Feb. 27 and the two live and two dead roaches in the kitchen under the big brown sugar container played a role. But check out the two other High Priority violations that day: “Observed water backing up in kitchen area where hand sink by ice maker is used” and “observed employee doing different tasks including handling dirty towel, then engaged in food preparation without washing hands.”

And, then the inspector got assaulted by this sight and smell: “Observed detergent container in walk-in cooler with liquid with a very strong urine like smell. Container discarded by manager.” And there was an “accumulation of food debris/grease on food-contact surface … slicer, preparation tables, inside reach-in coolers (including gaskets) and food storage containers soiled.”

This inspection reads like a CDC warning pamphlet. There’s “chicken thawing in the three-compartment sink at room temperature” as well as “employee using spatulas to handle raw animal food and then ready-to-eat food without first washing, rinsing and sanitizing tongs. Cook using spatulas with raw product, then with ready to eat product.”

Sarku satisfied the inspector upon re-inspection the next day.

Sokai Peruvian Sushi Bar, 8888 SW 136th St., South Miami-Dade: The Feb. 26 pop-in by the inspector found one live roach crawling inside a non-working reach-in cooler at the front counter sushi bar and approximately 10 live roaches observed crawling on walls and floor behind a working reach-in cooler, also behind cooking equipment in that same area.

Also, the inspector dropped a Stop Sale on the sushi rice because there was no time marking and there was no way to tell how long it had been “removed from temperature control.” Then, there’s that violation that boosts bottled water sales, “accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.”

They cleaned up nicely on Feb. 27 and got out of the restaurant penalty box.

Now, here are the places that got Administrative Complaint Recommended. That means you’re staying open, but barely:

Bistro 103, 7707 NW 103rd St., Hialeah Gardens: On the bug side, the inspector counted 10 live roaches inside a broken down reach-in cooler. The inspector also saw a lot of food not kept at a proper temperature, so a Stop Sale zapped the mashed potatoes, moros and rice pilaf. Also noted: a broken two-door oven, kitchen reach-in cooler and dishwasher.

Tony’s Banquet Hall, 1800 W. 68th St., Hialeah: Among the three High Priority violations were three live roaches on the kitchen floor, three on top of the dish-washing machine and three around the kitchen water heater. They broke with the three pattern with 50 roach droppings present.

Special mention for Nikudo Japanese Buffet, 18812 S. Dixie Hwy, Cutler Bay, which had only two dead roaches, but 48 violations, 10 of which were High Priority. But they had this eye-catching Stop Sale description: “Observed water dripping from walk-in cooler fan unit unto raw marinated pork, crab salad, raw shrimp, gelatin stored underneath unit. Observed water accumulated on food items mentioned above. … Observed accumulation of heavy black mold and slime inside ice machine. Observed ice touching mold-like substance as it is dropping from pin.”

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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