|The Legend, Jiro Ono. Magnolia Pictures|
I've resisted doing a "tiers of sushi" type ranking from the inception of this blog because it is basically pointless. Forget about breaking down and analyzing the best sushi spots in South Florida because there are only FOUR worth discussing. Okay, there may be a fifth spot down in South Miami but I have not been there in years and my reliable sources claim that it is not in the same league. On a side note, I highly encourage all sushi fans watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It is not only educational but inspirational.
The depressing aspect of this post is that I used to eat sushi regularly. But after enjoying the sushi at these four spots they have flat out ruined sushi for me. It has become impossible to order let alone enjoy the pedestrian sushi they serve at your typical neighborhood joint.
Listen, I really don't mean to come off like a total sushi snob here but if you haven't experienced the four spots I'm about to discuss, you don't know what I mean and I understand that. If you have OR if you've had the opportunity to visit the sushi Meccas in Japan or even a couple of the renowned spots in New York City then you know and feel my pain.
I don't eat sushi anymore unless it is at one of the following four spots. Their sushi is that good. Some of it is mind blowing and unfortunately wallet blowing too. Hey, it's an expensive habit but theoretically safer than the white powder.
I love sushi. I love everything about the experience. I love sitting at the sushi bar in close proximity with the sushi chef and going omakase with them. I love sipping on Sapporo in anticipation of the next piece of nigiri. I love the initial impact of pristine ocean fresh nigiri crashing on my tongue followed by the reflexive closing of the eyes in ecstasy. I love when rice is prepared and served properly and is paired with the slight touch of soy sauce and wasabi which only serves to enhance the wonderfully fresh fish. I love watching the meticulous handling of the fish from the skillful knife work to the touch of a delicate hand. I love seeing the happy glow in the eyes of the sushi chef that knows they just handed you a dynamite piece of sushi.
Sushi is awesome and I love it!
*For reference points, I rarely order maki (rolls) and I prefer nigiri over sashimi.
** The four places ranked below all do fantastic sushi. Some do certain things better then the others. This ranking takes all facets of the sushi experience into consideration.
( n a - o - é )
Although the other three are also outstanding, Naoe is the overall best in town. The journey chef Kevin Cory takes you on from the moment you sit down is a special one and the experience makes Naoe the best restaurant in town. Chef Cory is always there serving you plus he sources fantastic fish from Japan and other parts of the world. Nothing he serves will ever be sub par. This is a must visit place for sushi fans at every level. But be advised, sushi will never be the same again for you.
Pictured above is chef Kevin Cory meticulously prepping for service. His attention to detail is second to none. He is deserving of a James Beard nomination for the best chef in the south.
Unfortunately I do not have a lot of good images from my meals at Naoe primarily because it is dark inside plus I'm always trying to take a quick shot so most are out of focus. Thus, I'm only going to post a couple. You will have to go and see it for yourself.
It should be noted that every meal starts with a Bento Box which always features some interesting and unique treats.
Thank you, may I please have another!
The first bite of nigiri is always mind blowing pieces of pristine salmon belly.
No, no ChowP didn't Bobbitt me at the sushi bar. Relax ladies, I'm still intact. Geoduck waiting for the snip snip.
Uni is always as good as it gets at Naoe.
The hostess with the most-ess Ms. Wendy popping the Cristal!!
Reservations are required and exclusively accepted online via OpenTable
Tuesday - Sunday
661 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, FL 33131
Makoto not only serves amazing sushi but it is one of the best overall restaurants in town. I've had some fantastic sushi at Makoto including a special one on one omakase extravaganza with chef Makoto himself one afternoon. Subsequent visits with him and his team have been equally great. It gets bonus points for being the most accessible of the four.
Everything on this plate was excellent. Their tamago is the best in town.
Muscle of Aoyagi
Santa Barbara Uni
Bal Harbour Shops : 9700 Collins Avenue
Bal Harbour, FL 33154 | phone: 305.864.860
Sushi Deli is a tiny spot located inside a Japanese market across the street from WSVN in North Bay Village. Chef Michio, pictured above, serves sushi that hangs with the big boys and at a fraction of the price. Seats are hard to come by here and they are closed on Monday and Tuesday. They also close at 6:30 p.m. so plan accordingly.
Omakase for three.
Omakase part two.
This is Miami sushi guru and good friend JSDonn's favorite bite. The "Triple Egg" Ikura, Uni and Quail Egg. You know you want some of that right now.
Unfortunately there are selfish food fans in Miami that have decided to keep this little gem a secret. Well, that's not fair to you and more importantly not fair to the owner or his staff who are trying to earn a living and doing a great job in the process. It's also silly of them to think their opinions have line forming "weight." Go and enjoy! It's a special little place.
Japanese Market Miami
1412 79th Street Causeway
North Bay Village, FL 33141
Everything was great. Standouts were the Chu-Toro, Aji, Hotate and Saba.
Chef delivered another fantastic round of Aji, Kohada and Kinmedai.
My last bite of 2012 was a wonderful piece of Uni.
My first bites of 2013 were Kumamoto Oysters topped with ceviche sauce and salsa.
Oh-Toro, Tai, Shima Aji, Aji, Kohada, Saba, Hotate, Tamago and Uni.
501 East Camino Real
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
Any hidden gems out there that I may have missed? Please let me know.