A peek inside the secret sushi bar that brings Michelin stars to South Beach

Azabu Miami brings a taste of the Michelin-star rated New York restaurant to South Beach.
Azabu Miami brings a taste of the Michelin-star rated New York restaurant to South Beach.

Famed Michelin-starred Sushi Azabu New York has brought its intimate, authentic Japanese dining experience to Miami. Azabu Miami Beach opened in  the Marriott Stanton South Beach. Chef  Kenichi “Ken” Fujimoto heads up the various kitchens, which include a sushi counter and a robata grill.

The space

Courtesy Deep Sleep Studios.

Tucked away inside the SoFi hotel, Azabu feels like a hideaway with wood-paneled walls, cozy booths and dim, date-friendly lighting. Hidden behind a curtain at the back of the dining room is the Den, an 11-seat sushi bar made from a Hinoki Cypress tree and serving a strictly omakase menu. It uses local and imported seafood from fish markets in Japan. There’s also an inviting outdoor patio outfitted with cushy furniture, umbrellas and greenery.

And the cocktails?

Bar Azabu stocks 40 premium Japanese whiskys in addition to an extensive sake selection. Go for the Spring in Tokyo with shochu, umeshu and matcha powder.

Be prepared to eat

Izakaya-style dishes like Robata-grilled Yakitori, udon, Japanese fried rice served tableside on a Tobanyaki grill, and, of course, sushi and sashimi.

Prices are on par for high-end Japanese with small plates averaging $12 and cooked fish and sushi selections in the $20 range.

robata_avocado_uni.jpgAvocado topped with uni at Azabu Miami.

High rollers can start with a toro tasting that includes three varieties of the prized fatty tuna. But if you’re looking to maximize your budget there are dozens of hot and cold small dishes to start with. They include a traditional shredded chicken salad with string beans and green grapes, tomato salad with ponzu jelly, corn tempura served with curry salt, salmon tataki served with a kelp dashi dressing and a grilled avocado topped with a lobe of uni (sea urchin roe).

robata_wagyu_sirloin_steak_1_.jpgRobata-grilled wagyu sirloin steak.

The miso-glazed grilled black cod is marinated for two days and then cooked in a magnolia leaf over the binchotan grill while the lobster tempura is festooned with crispy rice.

Maki rolls include a Wagyu beef Tataki Roll, spicy tuna and a hamachi topped with uni. There are several udon dishes including a vegetarian cold udon bowl with grilled vegetables as well as belly-filling Japanese curry with rice.

Desserts play with Japanese coventions like the pyramid of shaved ice drizzled with condensed milk and strawberries, a matcha green tea “soup” with mochi ice cream and a flourless chocolate cake served with a scoop of matcha ice cream.

Bottom line

A serious sushi spot with Michelin cred and seriously seductive interiors lands in South Beach.

161 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach