Chef Piyarat Arreeratn, better known throughout Miami as Chef Bee, is opening a restaurant in South Beach.
NaiYaRa will specialize in the Asian street food that captured his heart growing up along the Mekong river in Thailand. The restaurant, located in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood of South Beach, will not only allow the chef to offer guests the dishes he's been longing to showcase, but also serve as a mentoring platform for Bee himself.
See also: Chef Bee Is Happy at Oishi Thai
The chef/owner of NaiYaRa will invite the people who have been influential in his culinary path to cook with him. "I'm going to have my mother and other people who have taught me how to cook in the kitchen. They're my mentors. I'm pretty much going to be the student each and every day."
Bee tells Short Order that he chose the 3,700-square-foot site because of the location. "The people who go to Sunset Harbour are mostly locals who want a good meal. There are so many wonderful restaurants here; I feel like they're an inspiration." The restaurant will have a full bar and seat about 200 people. The menu will focus on Thai street food during dinner, but after-hours, the menu will turn to lighter offerings of Asian small plates, and a DJ will entertain.
The restaurant's name, NaiYaRa, Bee says, means "peaceful and calm." It also means "female elephant" in Thai -- and is the name of the chef's young daughter. Bee explains he and his wife had been trying to conceive for some time when she had a dream about a female elephant. Shortly after, she learned she was pregnant. "The name holds special meaning for me, so that was the only possible name for my new venture," the chef says. An elephant also serves as the restaurant's logo.
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NaiYaRa is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014. In the meantime, Chef Bee continues to cook at Oishi Thai in North Miami. The chef rose to local culinary fame at Khong River House and then made headlines again when he left.
Bee tells Short Order that he's grateful for the opportunities that arose from his time at Khong but that he wants to put that part of his career behind him. Asked about the 50 Eggs lawsuit after his departure from Khong, the chef says that it's behind him but that he cannot comment on any details, stressing he wants to move forward. "I can't wait to share my food with South Beach. That's my love. That's what I want to do."