The latest entry in the burgeoning downtown dining scene is Aijó, which opened yesterday on the ground floor of the Jade building in Brickell. The owner is Rene Buroz, a lawyer in his native Caracas, Venezuela; executive chef is Christian Bonilla, who was recently sous chef at Zuma.
Aijó translates to "affection" or "love," and its all-white interior translates to what is referred to in the marketing material as "Miami Chic." There is also a Japanese-style VIP room with private server and butler.
Sample menu items include the signature Reneboy roll, which brings crispy rice capped with smoked salmon and crunchy sweet walnut-eel ($12).
There are numerous other specialty rolls, many of which utilize cream cheese. The chichi roll sounds unique: "dynamite stuffed pasta, crispy prawns, crispy eel, avocado, tuna and wakame topping with Aijó sauce. ($16).
Sushi ($8 to $12 per roll) and sashimi ($18 for 5 pieces) are the more basic ways to go. Robata grill items include crusted tenderloin medallion, salmon sake-teriyaki, and a big 24-ounce bone-in rib eye with "buttery ponzu" and "truffle explosions." Hope they plan to hand out plastic bibs with that one.
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The Aijo Kani appetizer sounds tempting: King crab legs with truffle-almond butter and citrus foam. Foie gras is served with barley miso, passion fruit gel and crystallized ginger ($21). Yakisoba noodles come with garlic butter, tokatsu sauce, and choice of chicken ($18), beef ($20) or shirmp ($25). Tempura items range $12 to $16.
Sample dessert: Arruchadito de Nutello is a phyllo-like pastry filled with the hazelnut spread ($12).
Award-winning mixologist? Why, of course! Venezuelan bartender Naravana Dervasi shakes specialty cocktails such as a vodka-based apple martini with apple liqueur and a splash of yuzu. There's a shiso mojito, too, and sakes, champagnes, and a global wine list.