Ichigo-Ichié is a term the Japanese use for the "once in a lifetime" concept that every encounter should be valued as if it were to be the last. That notion is at the heart of Hiyakawa, a new Japanese restaurant in Wynwood.
Alvaro Perez Miranda, the Venezuelan restaurateur and art dealer who launched the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar with Alex Chang and owns Wabi Sabi by Shuji on NE 79th Street, tells New Times that Hiyakawa was designed as a transportive dining experience.
"After living in Japan for 16 years, every time I wanted to eat Japanese food in Miami I felt like I had to go to New York City or Los Angeles to get the real thing," he says. "This eatery is meant to fill that gap. Between the atmosphere, service, and menu, Hiyakawa is meant to serve as a portal into a quintessential fine-dining Japanese eatery."
A 2,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of the Cynergi building on North Miami Avenue at NW 27th Street, Hiyakawa debuted last October with offerings built around micro-seasonal fish and ingredients flown in daily from the Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo.
"We prepare fish that arrives in the morning, and serve only 50 people a night," says Perez Miranda. "We have a few regular items on the menu, but the rest all depends on the season and the amount of fish we receive."
Perez Miranda tapped designer Bea Pernia to co-create a convivial, minimalistic eatery, which includes a small entry lounge furnished with blue-cushioned banquettes, natural oak paneling, wall art, and industrial-style concrete floors. The main dining room is distinguished by a series of curved wooden beams around and overhead reminiscent of a giant ribcage, that combined with backlighting, create an amphitheaterlike setting, with a sushi bar positioned as a stage for diners to view the chefs at work.
Hiyakawa's opening was announced last February, but the debut was delayed by pending permits and the pandemic. Chef Shuji Hiyakawa of Wabi Sabi was originally involved in the endeavor, but according to Perez Miranda, he has left both concepts to pursue personal projects.
Restaurant partner and executive chef Masayuki Komatsu (formerly of Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill) helms Hiyakawa's cozy sushi counter, where he and his team showcase their creations via à la carte temaki, tempura, and nigiri/sashimi options such as uni ($16) and hotate (Japanese sea scallop) ($6). Seasonal offerings include geoduck clams (mitigai); young sea bream (madai); and noré-soré, baby saltwater eels known as “the fairies of water” for their rarity and translucent appearance.
The restaurant also offers a $200 omakase experience, an elaborate tasting menu of 14 meticulously prepared courses Komatsu presents in an efficient, yet ceremonial way.
"I always threw myself one hundred percent into everything I did, but with this restaurant, the focus is definitely more on quality over quantity," says the Osaka-born chef. "We are introducing the real Japanese food to the Miami people — there are no spins or twists. Once they try, it might be hard to go back to ordinary experiences."
On May 15 and May 16, Komatusu and Alex Chang (formerly of Vagabond) will collaborate on two special eight-course tasting menu dinners that combine American and Japanese influences. The tasting menu costs $175 per person with an additional beverage pairing available for $79 per person. Reservations can be made from 6 to 11 p.m. for up to a party of four via Tock.
Hiyakawa. 2700 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-333-2417; hiyakawamiami.com.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.