Move over koji: The "Approachable" Restaurant is Miami's latest, hottest food trend

Not all summer restaurant news in Miami is dismal. And none of it, as yet thankfully, has anything to do with a spate of koji-inspired restaurant openings or new restaurants consumed by whatever the new kale may be. What we do see this summer, wisely on the restaurateurs’ parts, is the Approachable Restaurant as hot.

Take Chef Michael Lewis, whose pedigree includes powerhouse fine dining destinations Jean Georges and Zuma, who opened KYU, a down-to-earth joint in Wynwood where the average entrée is around $25. And then there’s the team behind Juvia, which recently opened Sushi Garage featuring Chef Sunny Oh’s—wait for it–approachable menu has turned this fun, casual eatery into a neighborhood hotspot, with locals coming back night after night for high quality food at a low price point.

Other local chefs getting on board with this trend include Michael Schwartz, who re-conceptualized Cypress Room into the more casual Cypress Tavern, and Alex Chang who took his skills from Vagabond to the The Anderson. While this approach to dining is not necessarily new to top food cities, we see it as evidence of the evolution of Miami’s culinary scene and continued growth bringing us on par with other great food cities.

On his decision to open a so-called ‘approachable’ restaurant, Michael Lewis tells us,“I spent 75 % of my cooking career at Michelin Star restaurants and about 2% of my time eating there. I wanted to open the kind of place that I would like to go and eat.”  

Oh agrees, adding, “”I’ve spent the majority of my career making food for some of the most elite people in the world. Through this all, I realized even these types of people are not always up for the production to go to a high-end restaurant.  So the idea was to bring some of the best products to an atmosphere that is refined and detailed but casual enough you can come in t-shirt and jeans. There are very casual, hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurants with good food, and beautiful Japanese restaurants with good food. But a place with great food and atmosphere that you just come to enjoy dinner, a place that’s warm and inviting without the hassles, is difficult to find in the Japanese restaurants. We realized that’s what the market was missing, and aimed to fill that void with Sushi Garage.”

Move over koji—this is a trend everyone can fully latch on to.