Best Nikkei Restaurant 2023 | Itamae | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Andrea Lorena

Nando and Valerie Chang's take on the Japanese-Peruvian cuisine known as nikkei has earned Itaemae plenty of rave reviews — and the hype is warranted. The menu is constantly changing to highlight local and seasonal products. A recent visit featured ceviche mixto with black grouper and conch and a barred knifejaw tiradito. Even with all the buzz, Itamae is still unpretentious, with outdoor seating and surprisingly reasonable prices considering its location among the extravagant and luxurious Design District shops.

Inari Fusion Sushi photo

Miami is said to be a melting pot of cultures, and no two seem more compatible in this metaphorical cast iron than the like-minded sensibilities of Japanese and Peruvian. Case in point: Inari Sushi Fusion, where the raw sushi and savory marinades of one Asian country's cuisine symbiotically pair with the spicy sauces and fresh seafood of a South American country's cuisine. But like a mad scientist, the Cuban-born chef/owner Pedro González never tires of his ongoing curiosity for exploring testing flavors and cooking techniques outside Japan and Peru, especially in the assortment of hot and cold small plates, including the ceviche empanadas (the traditional fried pastry stuffed with a marinated fresh catch of the day) and the "Salmon Bites" (lightly-breaded pockets of fried salmon with cream cheese and scallion paired with a creamy bacon dipping sauce). Earlier this year, he debuted a new CBD menu, which includes a one-millimeter syringe of the flavorless cannabidiol for customers to customize specialty sushi rolls and cocktails.

Yakko Bistro photo

Cooked Japanese fare has gotten lost in the omakase craze. Fortunately, Yakko Bistro offers more than raw fish (or fish seared with a blowtorch). This stellar eatery has been around for decades in a North Miami Beach strip mall but has reinvented itself more than once to keep up with the times. Today, it's just as delicious as ever, with dishes like the signature fried whole fish, omurice (chicken-rice omelet with brown sauce), skewers of grilled quail eggs, and lotus roots kinpira, all equally as tempting. Get a group together and order plenty of izakaya to share, which, we'll concede, includes the raw stuff, such as tiradito, carpaccio, tartare, maki, and nigiri.

Photo by Nicole Danna

You wouldn't expect to find high-end cuts of sashimi in a food hall, but that's exactly what you'll get at Sushi Yasu Tanaka, the tiny sushi counter at the back of the Design District's Mia Market. Here, locally celebrated sushi chef Yasu Tanaka — formerly of the Den at Azabu — offers an intimate sushi bar that's becoming known for its exceptional quality and attention to detail. The casual atmosphere creates the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable dining experience. You won't find Americanized rolls here, but rather a short-and-sweet tasting menu of composed appetizers, nigiri, sashimi, and hand rolls that allow diners to experience various flavors and textures in a single meal. Order at the counter and watch as chefs prepare your selections with upmarket cuts of fish from melt-in-your-mouth toro to delicate Japanese uni. Items are plated with real fresh-grated wasabi, and nigiri is placed atop the chef's specialty sushi rice (one version's made with akazu red vinegar, and the other with rice-distilled yonezu) made fresh every few hours to ensure a delicious experience.

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants photo

Sushi by Scratch is one of the latest omakase experiences to hit Miami, and its allure is thanks to the chef/owner team that boasts a California-based restaurant group with two Michelin-starred restaurants. At their Coconut Grove location, chef Phillip Frankland Lee and his wife Margarita Kallas-Lee channel the chef's fondest memories growing up in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley with an ever-changing selection of nigiri. Those in the know may be familiar with the original Sushi by Scratch in Los Angeles. At one time, the restaurant didn't have a name, a website, or a phone number. Instead, guests clamored for seats via a chalkboard system. It's now seven locations strong, and thankfully, Tock makes it easy to nab one of the Miami restaurant's ten bar spots offered during three nightly seatings, where diners can indulge in Lee's unique approach to "new wave" nigiri. Each of his locations serves 17 courses, a half-dozen that stand as the chef's signature creations, the star of which is a divine hamachi painted with sweet corn pudding and finished with a sprinkling of Kallas-Lee's sourdough bread crumbs. The rest represent collaborations by members of each location's talented team, often an array of outlandish but flavorful ingredients, many made from scratch, as the name implies. Think house-smoked peppers or beet-infused wasabi, which pair perfectly with expertly sourced fish and house-fermented soy sauce and vinegar.

At Ichimi Ramen Bar, each good old-fashioned slurp of warm, savory broth is followed by a satisfactory sigh. With a selection of nine broths, two noodles, more than five protein options, and even more veggies, toppings, and sauces, the ramen possibilities here are endless. The "Soul Ramen" is the signature broth, while the spicy "Black Dragon" is perfect for anyone looking to turn up the heat. There's pork belly, beef, and shrimp for the omnivores, but tofu, shiitake mushrooms, and plenty of plant-based options make this a vegetarian-friendly space. Don't skimp on the hanjuku egg. Like at any top-notch ramen shop, the soft-boiled egg is cooked just to the point where it's a solid but still runny enough to create the ultimate golden yolk experience. The popular ramen house has opened a second location in Midtown and announced plans for a third outpost in Homestead.

Tanka photo

So you say you like your Peking duck set on fire. Well, you're in the right place. This inventive, well-run, high-end Chinese restaurant offers more than flaming fowl, however. Located in the former Tony Chan's Water Club location in the Grand DoubleTree, Tanka features what it calls "izakaya-inspired" dishes. That's shorthand for small plates like Wagyu dim sum, pork belly bao buns, grilled branzino with pickled mustard leaf, and fried rice with garlic miso butter and edamame. You can also indulge in sushi, which is fresh and delicious. But in a city where omakase abounds and Chinese-with-a-twist does not, we're going here for the truffle egg drop soup and lamb chops with mango-yogurt sauce.

Photo by Nicole Danna

Located in a nondescript Sunrise shopping plaza, Ten Ten Seafood Restaurant is not only one of the latest dim-sim serving restaurants to open in the region but, with 80 options in all, one of the most prolific. You're instantly greeted with a bevy of smiling servers eager to seat you and get you started on your Cantonese cuisine journey. The dining room's red umbrella-adorned ceiling will instantly transport you to a shop in Hong Kong, but it feels even more authentic when the carts, stacked with steaming bamboo baskets, begin to roll out from the kitchen. Here, dim-sim is served all day, but it's best when delivered hot and fresh for the busy lunch rush. From the delicate and savory to the adventurous and bold, each dish is made fresh and to order. You'll start with traditional dumplings, siu mai, and buns before the servers bring out the rice paste, noodles, and congee — expertly crafted and bursting with flavor. Don't skip the house specialties, which include crab meat dumplings in black rice paper wrapping (the meat is sourced directly from the live seafood tanks at the front of the house) and walnut buns, sweet chewy balls stuffed with a creamy nut filling. But the real treat just might be the black gold quicksand bun, a fluffy black sesame bao that holds a molten, velvety-smooth salted duck egg yolk paste at its core.

You can find Korean Kitchen in a North Miami Beach shopping plaza, but step inside, and its tarp-shielded outdoor courtyard is reminiscent of the country's pojangmacha street stalls. The authenticity expands into the menu, which features classics like bibimbap and budae jjigae (army stew) and delicacies like silkworm larvae soup. Don't forget the kimchi!

Basilic Vietnamese Grill serves dishes so fresh, simple, and authentic you'd think you were in Hanoi — not a North Miami Beach shopping plaza. The sleek dining room smells of ginger and lemongrass as crispy green papaya salads, fresh spring rolls, beef sauteed lemongrass vermicelli bowls, beef pho noodle soups, and other Vietnamese staples are prepared in the kitchen. The best part? No one will mind if you raise the bowl to your lips and slurp the last drops of pho.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®