Kevin Cory, Chef-owner of Naoe and N by Naoe
Why he’s in the Food 50: In South Florida’s fresh-fish game, no one comes close to creating the kind of transcendent magic that chef Kevin Cory does at his intimate sushi den in Brickell Key. He doesn’t advertise or self-promote on social media. He doesn’t make rolls with cream cheese or mayo. He doesn’t take walk-ins, and he doesn’t take substitutions. What he does is serve the most beautiful, delicate, thoughtful, bring-you-to-your-knees Japanese dining experience available within many hundreds of miles.
In 2003, Cory quietly began amassing loyal fans at Siam River in North Miami Beach. “It boasts a wonderful young sushi chef … [serving] a dazzling array of delicacies not, in my experience, to be found elsewhere in this area,” Miami Herald reader Hal Berritt wrote in the paper’s Micro Rave column that year. Cory went on to open Naoe in 2009 in Sunny Isles Beach, moving to its current Brickell Key nook in 2012. Last year, Cory opened the adjacent N by Naoe, serving an $80 prix-fixe lunch that unfolds around a compartmentalized bento box served on a communal table. Cory’s no-menu omakase meals aren’t cheap, especially if you factor in bottles of sake from his family’s brewery in Japan. But they are special, supremely so, and Naoe’s longtime hostess, Wendy Maharlika, exudes the kind of hospitality that makes the difference between a meal and an experience.
$26: Price of Cory’s chef-tasting omakase dinner menu when he opened Naoe in Sunny Isles Beach in 2009.
$200: Price of Cory’s omakase dinner menu today (nigiri sushi included) at Naoe in Brickell Key.
Where to find him: Naoe and N by Naoe, 661 Brickell Key Dr., Miami