When Kevin Cory moved his omakase temple, Naoe, from Sunny Isles to Brickell Key two years ago, he also leased an adjoining space which he said was eventually going to be used for lunch service. That day has finally come. And this is a lunch like no other you'll find in Miami.
Let's open the box on N by Naoe. (You can see all my pictures in this N by Naoe flickr set; you can also read my thoughts on Naoe here).
A few minutes after you're seated, a three-tiered bento box is brought to your table. It's unpacked to reveal six compartments, each stocked with several different items – similar in style and quality to the elaborate bento that starts a meal at Naoe.
So what's inside? This day: a battera roll of madai (sea bream) and pickled kombu with fried canistel (a/k/a eggfruit); tender braised pork jowl with mustard and miso, with boniato, white asparagus and local green beans; house-made jackfruit seed tofu topped with Hokkaido uni, with junsai (a/k/a water shield, a sort of slippery aquatic plant); a bit of Maine lobster with avocado and pea shoots; grilled black-bellied rosefish (a local deepwater fish in the scorpionfish family) with key lime; the same fish in a different preparation, simmered, with roasted eggplant and okra; sashimi of snowy grouper with komochi kombu (herring roe that have been laid on seaweed) and delightfully sticky aori ika (big fin squid) pressed with nori. Also, in typical Japanese fashion, a rice bowl (studded with bamboo shoots), pickles (eggplant and kombu), and soup (corn miso with slivers of daikon radish and leek).
Plus dessert: a bowl of seasonal fruit – spot-on ripe Haden mango and sapodilla – with transparent cubes of house-made jello, chewy mochi balls and adzuki beans, and a sweetened matcha tea syrup to pour over the top.
There is one communal table with room for up to sixteen people. Currently they are doing one seating a day, at noon, Monday through Friday. Like Naoe, it is by reservation only, booked exclusively through OpenTable. Unlike Naoe, which is typically a three to four hour commitment, this can be a pretty quick meal. Our bento was brought to the table within about five minutes of us being seated, and we had finished and moved on to dessert within an hour.
It is also not cheap: lunch is $80, plus an automatic 18% gratuity. On one hand, you may see that as a mind-bogglingly expensive lunch. On the other, you may see it as a chance to have a nine-course omakase feast, in about an hour and for under a hundred dollars, that is about as close to Japan as you'll ever get in Miami. You probably know what I'm thinking.
N by Naoe
661 Brickell Key Drive