On a quiet Tuesday night, Wynwood's Kyu is bustling. The Asian-inspired eatery, opened about a month ago, is the new kid in Wynwood, bringing an exotic barbecue concept to the area's ever-growing culinary scene.
Housed in the former Shikany space (251 NW 25th St., Miami), the restaurant is helmed by former Zuma alums chef Michael Lewis and general manager Steven Haigh, who says it's been a lifelong dream to open Kyu (which is pronounced like the letter q).
Haigh and Lewis describe Kyu as a wood-fired Asian grill, where the grill itself is the restaurant's centerpiece. The space features an open-kitchen concept, where diners can watch Lewis and his team practice Yakinku, a Japanese barbecue grilling method, as well as prepare a bevy of other items, such as veggies, seafood, and other small bites. On paper, more than half of Kyu's menu features dishes made exclusively on its wood-fired grill, including an assortment of fish, meats, and vegetables.
The restaurant, which features a rustic, farm-to-table atmosphere, prides itself on being sustainable. An Orca composter is used in-house to help break down excess waste, and Haigh and Lewis have vowed to plant trees to recoup those used by Kyu's wood-charcoal grill. The eatery sources local produce for most of its menu items too.
The menu, crafted by Lewis, draws influence from his years of travel and mostly features Japanese and Korean yakiniku, which means grilled meat in Japanese. The menu begins with what Kyu calls "snacky snacks." For something light, consider a crunchy kale dish ($7), or try something more satisfying, such as the burrata ($8), drizzled with a yuzu marmalade jam.
Be sure to order one of Kyu's steamed buns. Choose between crispy pork belly ($8) or crispy crab ($11), served in pairs.
For main entrées, Kyu's menu was built to share. The menu features the categories "Fresh and Bright," which are vegetable plates; "Chilled and Refreshing," mostly seafoods; and "Wood Fired and Smoked," which includes many of the eatery's meats.
Under "Chilled and Refreshing," try the grilled octopus ($12). If it weren't for its appearance, it'd be nearly impossible to guess you were noshing on a tentacle. It's roasted to a slight crunch without losing tenderness and leaves a lightly smoky aftertaste. Avocado and palm hearts are served alongside.
It's difficult to choose just one of Kyu's many wood-fired and smoked meat dishes. For diners hungry for seafood, consider the roasted grouper ($24) or Florida red snapper ($22). Beef short ribs ($28), enough to feed two to three, are served with pieces of lettuce and three sauces for the diner to make lettuce wraps. The lettuce adds a light and airy feel to the thick and rich taste of the short rib.
Pair a meat with a side or two. Munch on Thai-fried rice ($16), which is served in a hot stone pot and stirred tableside, or roasted cauliflower served atop goat cheese sauce.
If your mind tells you that ordering more food is a bad idea, ignore it, because Kyu's sweets are worth it. Share the coconut layer cake, which is a chef's family recipe, along with the doughnut-beignets, which are served with strawberry and chocolate sauces.
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Everything about Kyu aligns with the Japanese mindset, wabi-sabi, which is the art of finding perfection in imperfection. Haigh and Lewis have taken a primitive, warehouse-like design and turned it into a swank hot spot that uses uncomplicated ingredients and forthright practices, giving diners a chic and tasty night out.
Kyu is open Tuesday through Friday for lunch from noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For dinner, the restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. It's closed Monday.
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