Aijó Nuevo-Japanese Fusion Now Open at Jade

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.

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.

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein