Miami. A beautiful city. Wonderful beaches. A waypoint – a melting pot – for travelers from North and South America (even Europe), english and spanish speakers, vacationers, retirees and everything in between.
That’s the good.
Too many old dudes trying to act young, and too many young dudes not acting old enough. A packed-to-the-rafters Miami Beach that will be ground zero (slash patient zero) for our COVID recovery – if you didn’t like crowds before the pandemic, wait until you see South Beach this summer.
And perhaps most unfortunately for someone with complete tunnel vision, a surprising lack of solid sushi restaurants.
While South Florida still is undeserved for a family of 4 looking for decent a la carte at a reasonable rate, the Omakase Hunters among us finally have no shortage of options. Naoe, in downtown Miami, is of course is a titan, but so is Sushi Yasu Tanaka in the Design District, Mr. Omakase (also in downtown), Hiden in Wynwood and now Hiyakawa. Interestingly, none of these beauties are in Miami Beach. Act accordingly when booking your next hotel/buying/renting your next spot
Two different options
Despite being small, Hiyakawa still has enough room for two parts: a sushi counter, with Omakase only, and a half-dozen tables for larger parties offering an expanded menu. Both ‘sections’ are in one beautiful room (shoutout Bea Pernia), visible from the streets of trendy Wynwood (see picture above), and receive regular attention from the multitude of staff on-hand (I estimated a 1:3 ratio).
That said, Hiyakawa was my first time in a sushiya since the start of COVID-19.
My first true omakase experience in over a year.
There was zero chance I wasn’t sitting at the counter.
An Itamae worthy of the price tag
The Omakase at Hiyakawa checks in at $200 for 17 courses and lasts about 2 hours start-to-finish. Of course, you’re not just paying for the Neta, the Shari, the buzz or the view. The Itamae is Masayuki Komatsu, ex of New York City cult classic SushiDen and Blue Ribbon, along with the now-defunct Morimoto.
Though the restaurant is named after co-owner Shuji Hiyakawa, well-known for the more relaxed Wabi Sabi by Shuji 50 blocks north, I felt fortunate to sit with Masa-san, an effervescent and technical chef who commands the small room.
If you don’t notice him, don’t worry – I saw the host introduce Komatsu to tables as the all-star, an aw-shucks moment that felt a bit awkward given the two other (very capable!) people behind the sushi counter.
The one issue
Let’s get this out of the way: the sushi at Hiyakawa is fantastic. 12 courses of nigiri, pairing a rice bathed in Akazu with ingredients imported from all over this wonderful planet. Fuck, I missed sushi.
The wrinkle were the four otsumami that preceded the nigiri, specifically courses 3 and 4.
Shrimp Tempura is a tough dish in the best of times. I’m not a hater – there’s excellent chefs that know what they’re doing – but mostly it’s a batter heavy, greasy endeavor that sets your taste buds back at least 10 minutes. That’s what happened here with this monster.
Near the end of an Omakase, the Itamae will often ask if the customer would like anything else. And as I often do – and as you should to, if you’ve got room – I ask what seasonal items on hand I haven’t tried.
In this case, Masa-san pulled out Kinki, Channel Rockfish, and one of my favourite early spring shiromi.
It was wonderful, like the other 12 nigiri. And that’s where I think Hiyakawa eventually ends up – serving a complete, sushi-only omakase.
Sometimes, sushiya don’t have enough neta to support that. But if Hiyakawa is busting out seasonal ingredients like Kinki, they certainly can, and I look forward to returning when they do.
Don’t ever do this
I was so close to biting my tongue on this, but I really and truly can’t help myself.
Take a look at this picture – what do you see?
If you guessed Wagyu and Tamago ordered by a circus table trying to mimic steak and eggs, you’d be right.
Someone call Wags.
Below, you’ll see two desserts that rounded out the meal.
A matcha cake, with a whipped topping I didn’t catch, and enough Yuzu sorbet for a family of four.
Two desserts isn’t the norm, but Hiyakawa was kind enough to bring it when I mentioned that my wife – the indomitable – Mrs. Sushi Legend – was back home and loved matcha cake.
Into the takeout box went the matcha cake, and out come sorbet for me. It’s the little things.