It's been more than a year since Shuji Hiyakawa announced the opening of his first solo venture, Wabi Sabi. The restaurant, which will offer fast-casual omakase dining and a juice bar, is expected to debut on NE 79th Street in Miami before the New Year.
"We've finally got our permits, and everything is moving quickly now," he says. "This has been going since July 2016. It's been a major effort."
In the midst of Wabi Sabi's delays, Hiyakawa, the former executive sushi chef of Kuro at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, worked with the River Yacht Club to open and lead Dashi, a Japanese fine-dining restaurant overlooking the Miami River. The restaurant, which sustained major damage during Hurricane Irma, has since closed, allowing Hiyakawa to concentrate on Wabi Sabi.
"At Wabi Sabi, I want to do something that hasn't been done in Miami," he says, "something private and very authentic."
Hiyakawa will serve basic, ingredient-based Japanese dishes with a hint of American flair. Every evening, he will rotate offerings to show a different type of Japanese cuisine. The menus, which have not yet been released, will be tasting-style and priced fairly, he says. During the day, Hiyakawa will also offer Asian-style cold-pressed juices, incorporating ingredients such as yuzu and ginger.
"It'll be sort of like pop-ups," he says, "but I'm the one doing it all. Maybe one night there will be ramen and so on. I want to introduce all types of Japanese cuisine and not be limited."
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The 1,300-square-foot space will offer a limited number of tables to maintain its intimacy. At the same time, it will blend fast-casual with fine dining by forgoing wait service and additional charges. The restaurant will also include its own garden, which Hiyakawa plans to use to source fresh vegetables and seasonings.
"I'm going to make what I like to eat," he says. "I could make what other Japanese restaurants around here offer, like crispy rice. Everyone would order it, but that's not Japanese food."
Through Wabi Sabi, Hiyakawa will also offer high-end catering. He will create omakase dining experiences inside customers' home. The restaurant will also be available for private events, where Hiyakawa will create and curate individualized Japanese dining experiences based on theme and budget.
Wabi Sabi. 851 NE 79th St., Miami; 305-707-4360; wabisabibyshuji.com. Opening date and operating hours to be announced.