Guests at Yuca 105 are greeted in an Art Deco-inspired lobby and bar accented in pale pink and emerald green Inside, the lavish murals and custom wallpaper are reminiscent of pre-revolution Cuba, a journey back in time for those who recall life during the island’s glamor years and a treat for those who never experienced them.
Then everything gets thrown out of context with an unexpected ceviche bar.
A homage to Cuban and Peruvian flavors, the restaurant is the product of a partnership between chef Juan Chipoco and Luis Hoyos, owners of Cvi.che 105, and Janet Suarez of Yuca, which closed its location on Lincoln Road during the pandemic and plans to reopen in an undisclosed new location.
Sprawled across 64,000 square feet, Yuca 105 made its debut on February 29 and closed its doors weeks later owing to COVID-19. June 5 marked the restaurant's reopening.
Chipoco says he's determined to overcome these tense times and turn Yuca 105 into a dining destination.
"It's time to appreciate our customers even more. In this difficult time, they become pickier about restaurants," he says. "If they have to choose between two options, they will opt for the one where service, food, and atmosphere connect."
The Peruvian chef rolled the dice with Hoyos before, when the pair purchased a La Cibeles Cuban restaurant in downtown Miami in 2017. The venture was unsuccessful and the two rethought their strategy when they saw that Peruvian dishes on the menu were finding a following. A year later, Cvi.Che 105 replaced La Cibeles, which endured.
"It was like a miracle. We were behind on rent, taxes, everything," Chipoco recounts. "Our lives completely changed when we turned into a Peruvian restaurant. When you persist, things happen."
The duo now runs the original Cvi.che 105 and a second location on South Beach, along with Pollos y Jarras, Wasska Lounge, Inti.mo, and Yuca 105.
Chipoco says it took him six months to tie the two distinct cuisines together on a menu that includes ceviches and a section devoted to tiraditos. The list of soups includes aguadito rompe calzón, a cilantro-based soup with rice, vegetables, and fresh seafood ($26.95). Sushi and maki are prepared Nikkei-fashion; the Samurai Cubano sushi, for instance, is made with Cuban roast pork and salsa criolla, covered with sweet plantains and mojo aioli and served over black beans ($14.95). Among the maki: the "Muerte Lenta," crispy fish and avocado, covered with flambéed spicy crab and shrimp, on a base of Peruvian yellow potato, yellow pepper, and lime ($22.95).
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Entrées, too, exemplify the marriage of flavors, in options like "Lomojo Congri," lomo saltado over crispy yuca sticks, topped with fried egg and accompanied by a side of congrí ($19.95); and corvina steamed in a fish-broth reduction with tomatoes and Peruvian onions, which comes with steamed potatoes and white rice ($32.95). "Caliente Hot Hot Hot," a main meant to be shared, is composed of three ropa vieja tostones, three spicy crab and shrimp tostones, and fried seafood with salsa criollo ($42.95).
Desserts include traditional Peruvian mousse de lucuma, made here with chocolate cookie crumble and chantilly cream ($8.95) and suspiro limeña — dulce de leche topped with meringue and a hints of cinnamon ($8.95).
Those who want to drink first can order signature cocktails like the Nutella Old Fashioned, made with Santa Teresa 1796 rum, Woodford rye, and bitters ($14); or the Oye Como Va, a mix of Midori, basil, lemon, ginger, and honey ($14).
Yuca 105. 1555 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 786-577-3500; yuca105.com. Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday noon to midnight, Sundays noon to 11 p.m.