The Who: Menin Hospitality (Radio, Bodega, Pizza Bar) opens the first of its three new restaurants in the SoFi neighborhood. Former Top Chef Masters contestant Herb Wilson serves as executive chef, while alums of Makoto and SushiSamba work the sushi bar.
The Space: The 136-seater is a polished temple-like space with bamboo/marble flooring, hand-carved wood panels, coral walls and a glowing onyx bar. Semi-circular booths offer a sceney backdrop while a tightly packed sushi bar showcases maki machinations.
The Dishes: Japanese izakaya-style, but loosened up to accommodate pan-Asian flavors and a little Western sway. The menu comprises a high-end sushi program, binchotan charcoal robata grill items and a chef’s-tasting omakase menu. Prices are par for South Beach with small plates $8-$28 and larger mains $18-$42. Omakase runs $30, $60 or $90.
Dive in with small plates of flash-fried kale blossoms, shishito peppers, hamachi crispy rice, fried rice with tiger prawns, Chinese sausage, Japanese mushrooms and sous-vide egg. The robata grill gets going with corn on the cob doused in togarashi and Parmigiano Reggiano; chicken meatballs; and short rib with truffle miso and micro chives.
Larger plates: miso sea bass, seafood curry, pan-seared chicken and wagyu filet. Shrimp tempura and spicy tuna round out the maki rolls, while sashimi runs the gamut from fatty toro tuna to cured mackerel. Dessert options are slimmer, like mochi ice cream or a Japanese-style cake roll stuffed with strawberry ice cream.
The Bottom Line: The place reminded us a bit of Makoto and SushiSamba, but in a fancier setting. And in South of Fifth, which makes it compelling.