Contrary to popular belief, Miami doesn’t have enough waterfront restaurants. Tomorrow, however, the Magic City will have one more when Brazilian-based Soho Bay opens at 520 West Ave. in South Beach, marking its first U.S. concept.
The 200-seater is minimally modern with a rustic feel. A yellow-onyx bar and a sushi bar light up in blue hues. Camel-colored wingback chairs and red swivel chairs are upholstered in 100 percent Italian leather. An outdoor lounge and terrace provide alfresco dining with striking vistas, and sunset views are available from every seat in the house. “We tried every seat in the house,” general manager Maximilian Heindl says.
The first Soho Bay opened in Bahia in 1998. Since then, entrepreneur Karine Queiroz has opened eight other Soho Bays throughout Brazil. For its first U.S. location, she tapped Ricardo Sauri as executive chef and sushi master. Sauri spent ten years at the revered Nobu and opened locations in the Bahamas and Hollywood. His most recent stint was as executive chef at Khong River House. But the Puerto Rican-born chef was eager to go back to his Japanese roots to give Miami something "that hasn’t been done before."
“One of the main things when we started writing the menu was for it to not be anything like what anyone else is doing. Nobu has been done time and time over, and yeah I spent ten years there, but am I going to do something similar?” Sauri says. “No. For me it’s a balance of knowing the Miami palate and what people are looking for.”
That means filling the menu with items like Wagyu picanha with wild mushrooms, roasted palm hearts and leeks, and lionfish Rio ($16) with cucumber caipirinha air. “I started working with lionfish in the Bahamas, and it’s an invasive species, so we want to take care of Florida.” To do that, Sauri will source locally whenever possible but also import catch from fish markets in Japan.
Other menu items include beef cheeks curry with runny egg and onion marmalade, mac 'n' uni noodles ($43), foie buns on miso brioche with tomato jam and black soy cherries ($18), wasabi octopus ($16), and bacon mushroom bass. A robata section on the menu proffers items from the grill, and a plethora of sushi, sashimi, and specialty rolls like crab and kimchee are also available. “It’s all about clean and bold flavors without complicating things.”
Soho Bay will start with dinner only. Plans are in the works to incorporate a Sunday dinner party dubbed "Sunset Soho," when they’ll routinely saber a bottle to celebrate sundown. Thursday to Sunday, a female DJ will play outside, and patrons who wish to arrive by boat can anchor in the bay and have Soho Bay’s proprietary boat ferry them to the restaurant. "By summertime we’ll have a full marina with about ten slots, and by the end of the year 35,” Heindl says.
Clearly a place to drink and let loose, Soho Bay doesn’t have a cocktail menu finalized just yet, but the handcrafted cocktail program will feature a bevy of molecular libations.
Follow Carla on Twitter and Facebook.