When Moscow's most successful restaurateur and alleged caterer to the Kremlin opens up a new Pan-Asian spot in town, we naturally have to ask him, well, everything.
Arkadiy Novikov at Novikov Miami, located at the edge of Downtown on the ground floor of the Met 1 building.
If you ask Russian restaurateur Arkadiy Novikov why he got into the food business, he’ll tell you—via a translator—about growing up in a two-room apartment, being a mediocre student, watching his grandmother put meat through a manual grinder, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. If you ask Russian restaurateur Arkadiy Novikov what Vladimir Putin’s culinary preferences are, he’ll look you stone cold in the face and say—without the translator now—“How do you know Putin likes our food?” And with that, everyone checks their recording devices and we get down to talking about Peking duck and Singapore noodles.
You opened your first restaurant in Moscow in 1992, and now here we are in Miami. Did you dream this big? ARKADIY NOVIKOV: Life is so interesting. The person who went through hunger, they understand what good food is. The person who went through poverty, their attitude toward money is different. That contrast is very important. When I think back, I never imagined that I would be here. You own restaurants around the globe.
The hamachi carpaccio with shaved truffle.
What is the secret to your success? AN: In a restaurant, it’s not only food; it’s emotion, it’s mood, it’s the wish to come back. And of course location, location, location.
Why did you select Miami as the first city to expand to in the United States? AN: To tell you the truth, I’m a little bit iffy about New York, a little scared of New York. Miami is a more loyal city. So many different nationalities live together in Miami and there is a mixture of cultures, so I want to share my vision and my taste with others. The restaurant business in Moscow is like a sports competition, and when you enter a foreign market, it’s like Olympic Games. Every athlete dreams of participating in the Olympic Games.
And in Miami you are after the gold? AN: Olympic movement says that the victory is not as important as participation.
Cocktails at Novikov Miami are served with hand-cut ice and high drama.
Do you have favorite dishes?
AN: The crispy duck salad, very tasty. And I love Chinese fried rice.
What was your first experience with Asian food? AN: It was just after the Soviet Union was transitioning and my friends said, ‘Oh, there’s a restaurant in the Hotel Russia that you have to try,’ and so I went to have Japanese food for the first time. I couldn’t understand what kind of people could eat raw fish. Now not only do I love Asian food, I think I even understand it.