Wynwood Japanese Restaurant Hiyakawa Coming From Wabi Sabi Chef

Shuji Hiyakawa
Shuji Hiyakawa Courtesy of Food for Thought Miami
Chef Shuji Hiyakawa, of Wabi Sabi by Shuji, and Alvaro Perez Miranda, who launched the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar with Alex Chang, will open a 36-seat Japanese restaurant on the ground floor of the Cynergi building in Wynwood later this year.

"The focus will be seasonality, simplicity, and kikubari," Hiyakawa says, referring to the Japanese art of caring for others.

That was the focus at Hiyakawa's Wabi Sabi on NE 79th Street, which will soon reopen following the chef's hiatus in Japan to care for his ailing father. Another Wabi Sabi will also open at Lincoln Road's forthcoming Time Out Market. It's Hiyakawa's eponymous restaurant that seems to be the most ambitious.

He trained under Masaharu Morimoto, of Iron Chef fame, and first got on diners' radar during his tenure as executive sushi chef at Kuro at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. Hiyakawa has also been a favored chef for events hosted by the Consulate General of Japan in Miami. While he had long nurtured plans to open Wabi Sabi — a word in Japanese aesthetics that means finding beauty in what is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete — construction delays forced him to double up and help open Dashi at the River Yacht Club. When that clubby spot closed, citing hurricane damage, Hiyakawa turned his attention to finishing Wabi Sabi, which in its short time built a solid reputation for sushi.

With Hiyakawa, the chef will focus on a broader range of Japanese cuisine featuring seasonal ingredients and dishes as well as agemono (deep-fried dishes), yakimono (grilled or pan-fried), shirumono (soups), zensai (appetizers), and sushi along with sake, beer, and wine. Hiyakawa will also offer a $100-per-person omakase menu, with chef selections from each menu category creating an ever-changing progression.

"For the first five months, we want to focus on quality over quantity; we won't do more than three dozen customers per night," Hiyakawa says.

Part of the space will also be dedicated to yet another Wabi Sabi. However, this one will serve a mere 100 bowls per day during lunch hours, and once they're out, they're out. The good news is the space will only be open five days a week, and Hiyakawa will use it to create a Japanese dining club offering the chef's off-menu obsessions like ramen, yakitori, or the delicate steamed dishes called nabemono.

"It's about the creation. For us, it's being able to have fun and excitement and trying to always give something new to our clientele," Hiyakawa says. "I don't only want to be cooking one thing in one space." 

Hiyakawa. 2700 N. Miami Ave., Miami.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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