First Bites

Kaiseki Your Way at N by Naoe

Kevin Cory's newest undertaking, N, which opened July, is far different from the neighboring Brickell Key omakase temple that earned him bundles of praise.

For most of your $100, hourlong meal at N, you won't see the soft-spoken chef. Also his staff has grown beyond Wendy, Naoe's longtime manager, to include a small troupe who tend your every need. They pour toasty, earthy Sencha tea, a variety commonly use in Japan's orderly tea ceremonies, into diminutive earthenware cups.

See also: N by Naoe Opens on Brickell Key

There are still plenty of things indicating it's related to Cory's neighboring sushi restaurant, including an extensive list of meticulously sourced ingredients, some of which you're likely to have never heard of. For example battera kombu kingfish kojizuke with fried canistel.

Battera is simple enough -- a sort of nigiri preparation where sushi rice is pressed into a box and topped with fish, in this case the difficult-to-butcher rich Kingfish whose flavor is akin to a less fishy mackerel. I had to look up kojizuke, which is apparently a mold that's grown on white rice used to pickle various foodstuffs. Canistel, according to the Internets, comes from a Central American evergreen and is a creamy fruit similar in taste to an egg-based custard.

The accelerated kaiseki, a version of the highly seasonal, vegetarian and meticulously prepared multicourse meal, starts with tea followed the presentation of a three-tiered beechwood jewelry box. A covering board is slipped away, set aside and three trays are removed and placed before you along with a small bowl of pale yellow miso soup, short-grain rice studded with bamboo shoot matchsticks and a tart array of pickles.

The first box with the battera also holds a sake and miso braised pork jowl topped with a single line of spicy parsnip mustard. It all collapses into shreds with the first touch of a chopstick.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson

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