Our Favorite Noteworthy Spots in Miami's Asian Food Scene

By Kathy Buccio | February 6, 2018 | Food & Drink

Who needs an official Chinatown when you have an entire city brimming with the best of Tokyo, the most authentic of Hong Kong and the trendiest of Hanoi? Foodie Kathy Buccio takes us on a tour of the much-awaited, fast-growing and explosively delicious Asian food scene in Miami. You’ll be booking tables faster than you can crack a fortune cookie.

Pao

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The grandeur of the Faena is greatly magnified by Pao, the modern Asian restaurant by James Beard winner Paul Qui. Where exactly is the most requested table in the trendiest restaurant on the Beach? If you guessed the booth underneath the Damien Hirst unicorn statue, then you must be a regular. Add the spectacular ocean views, the theater-like ambience and memorable dishes like—are you ready for it?—the Unicorn (sea urchin with grilled sweet corn pudding, sake aioli, chile de árbol and lime), and it’s the perfect recipe of ritz and glamour. 3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786.655.5630

Sakura 736

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There are sushi “chefs” who can roll out a dozen California rolls a minute and will take your insideout- brown-rice-only order with a smile. And then there are itamaesan, master sushi chefs who spend dozens of years learning, apprenticing and perfecting their craft. Documentaries are made about these men and Michelin stars fall at their feet. Meet chef Noboru Sanada—Miami’s first itamae-san. Brought from Tokyo to the 305 by executive chef Carlos Zheng and his partner Chao Ye, of the newly opened Sakura 736, Chef Noboru’s mission is to turn out the most exquisite and authentic Nikkei cuisine. The options are endless (including a nigiri that practically melts in your mouth), but should you have a special request, Chef Noboru will deliver with a smile because, as he says, everyone is a VIP when they dine at his table. Just no brown rice cucumber rolls, please. 736 First St., Miami Beach, 786.607.0199

Zuma

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Did you suddenly have no problem scoring the 1pm Sunday brunch reservation you’ve so been coveting? Here’s why: Anyone in the know already moved up their cheat day. The new Saturdays at Zuma are when the tables are filled with the gorgeous Champagne sippers—not kids on iPads. There’s also a DJ spinning an eclectic mix of tunes and rotating top-shelf sake station to add to the fun, festive vibe. Dishes are served izakaya style, and everyone is greeted with a brunch cocktail and a selection of starters, like seasoned oysters with ponzu, to fire up the palate for the feast that follows. Three brunch tiers, beginning with the classic at $95, are offered, but go big with the lavish $395 option, which includes unlimited Dom Pérignon and prime rib eye with truffle. 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, 305.577.0277

Komodo

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At Komodo—the pan-Asian food and fun mecca opened by David Grutman on Brickell—the food is good, the drinks are better, and the stargazing is major. Think of it as cocktails with a side of Kardashians. Sip on the Dragon Punch, made with Grey Goose vodka, ginger liqueur, lychee purée, lemon and raspberry. Or get fruity with the Pineapple Express (Casamigos tequila, pineapple, Thai chili agave).801 Brickell Ave., Miami, 305.534.2211

Sugar

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When Sugar made its grand debut in the EAST, Miami at Brickell City Centre, crowds flocked to the Asian rooftop bar and garden for the breathtaking views and party-like vibe. 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, 786.805.4655

Azabu Miami Beach

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We understand the insanity of telling you to go out to dinner just to take a picture of your dessert, but hear us out, because the Raindrop Cake at Azabu Miami Beach is Instagram legend. A glass-like confection made of water with pearl agar, kinako (roasted soybean powder) and Japanese black sugar syrup, it is both bewildering and inspiring. You will see it and immediately understand why it has its own hashtag. However, considering you are now seated at a Michelin-starred Japanese eatery (the original New York City location has earned honors for the last six years), by all means begin the meal with fresh tofu and house-made soba noodles. 161 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, 786.276.0520

Kyu

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Asian grill Kyu’s commitment to eco-friendly, sustainably dining is unparalleled (from the micro herb garden in the dining room to the in-house Orca composter that turns waste into water), but it’s chef Michael Lewis’ ability to utilize every element of an ingredient that we find most impressive. Take his signature duck breast burnt ends, a smoky and crisp breast served with yuzu pickles. After the meat is charred in the wood-fired oven, the renderings are sent to the bar, where they are repurposed into a cocktail cheekily named the Duck Duck Jous. A sip of the savory duck jus balances the rich and savory taste of the Rémy Martin 1738 cognac. The cocktail pairs perfectly with... we’ll let you guess this one. 251 NW 25th St., Miami, 786.577.0150

1-800-Lucky

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Nothing against the good General. We get the appeal of the sticky, salty, spicy dish. We love it too. But that’s entry-level takeout. In Miami we take everything—including our takeout—to the next level. Enter 1-800-Lucky, Wynwood’s buzzy new Asian-themed food hall where the grab-and-go options are decidedly upscale and insanely impressive. There’s crispy and juicy Peking duck at Lotus+Cleaver; a rich, umami-intense ramen at Hayato Miami; and the city’s first official banh mi joint, Les Bonh Amis. If you’ve never tried the traditional Vietnamese sandwich before, it’s the trifecta of all things holy: crunchy (baguettes toasted to order), salty (did someone say paté?) and fresh (toppings include pickled daikon, crunchy japaleño and earthy cilantro). 143 NW 23rd St., Miami, 305.768.9826



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