Today, Miami's Mandarin Oriental will unveil a new waterfront bar and lounge with a Peruvian twist.
Designed by the hotel's executive chef, Diego Oka, a Japanese/Peruvian toque who has spent a large part of his culinary career working with celebrity chef Gaston Acurio, the space is an ode to his and Acurio's homeland.
"We have one of the most amazing views here in Brickell; we were not taking advantage of that," Oka says. "We have a lot of space on our big terrace, so we decided to open it up, maximize it, and feature a Peruvian, Latin-style bar."
Yaku — whose name translates to "water" in Quechua, the ancestral Incan language — offers panoramic waterfront views with the Brickell skyline beyond, visible from every corner of the outdoor space, situated on the north terrace of the restaurant La Mar. The lounge features colorful Peruvian decor, from handcrafted teak wood furniture to vibrant print textiles accented with bronze, terra cotta, and turquoise.
Drinks at the bar will be inspired by water, according to Oka, with a variety of punch-style cocktails complemented by La Mar’s existing cocktail program and beer, wine, or champagne by the glass. Priced at $12 each, noteworthy drinks include Oka's favorite, the signature Yaku punch, prepared with rum, mango purée, lime juice, and the Peruvian corn-based drink chicha morada.
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The bar bite menu, a compilation of eight Peruvian tapas, offers guests a taste of something they won't be able to find at La Mar, Oka says. Priced at $8 apiece, they include a ceviche containing tuna tartare, crisp onions, chipotle aioli, and avocado. KFC popcorn is a fun twist on Korean fried chicken, served tossed in gochujang (a savory chili-based sauce) and topped with sesame seeds and scallions. Other options are los choritos, with mussels in their juice, cau cau flavors, toasted bread, and crostini; and yucas estrelladas, with yuca hash, queso fresco, garlic, and egg.
Oka's favorite is the pescao, a fried-fish sandwich prepared with a tomato-and-onion salad known as criollo and topped with a spicy tartar sauce.
"Now if you want to eat and go out for drinks," Oka says, "you can stay in one place that offers two distinct spaces, each with its own energy and ambiance."