By Paul Rubio
Trending now within Miami’s restaurant scene: the rise of plant-based and seafood-centric dishes showcasing the star power of simple, honest, raw ingredients. From ingenious vegan creations to Japanese plates perfected with a Miami twist, here are the restaurants — and dishes — headlining the Magic City’s burgeoning raw movement, all just a short distance from Acqualina Resort & Spa.
Plant Miami at The Sacred Space, Wynwood
Courtesy of Plant Miami
This Holy Grail of vegan and kosher cuisine is a daily celebration of farm-fresh South Florida produce and culinary creativity, set in an artsy and magical Wynwood setting. The restaurant sources the majority of its ingredients from its organic farm in Homestead, Florida, and combines its just-picked fruits, veggies, micro-greens, and edible flowers to produce edible (and highly Instagrammable) masterpieces.
A favorite creation is the “harvest dumplings,” purses of fresh cashew cheese wrapped in beet-coconut wrappers and crowned with ginger foam. Other can’t-miss dishes include the adobo-rubbed mamey served over smashed yucca and plated alongside celery root strings, cachucha peppers slices, and oregano oil, and the green papaya-based som tam salad, which looks almost too pretty to eat. What’s more? The stunning surroundings match the food. Diners can either venture to the expansive open kitchen or take full advantage of the transitional indoor-outdoor space, peering over a gold-tiled reflecting pond, a guava grove, and a meditation garden.
Planta Miami, South Beach
Courtesy of Planta Miami
This juggernaut in plant-based gastronomy has four locations across North America, but none quite as cool as the South Beach outpost, where the restaurant harvests its tomatoes, mixed greens, chilies, and herbs directly from the sun-kissed rooftop.
Planta’s raw dishes skew Japanese Peruvian, with a touch of Hawaiian influence. The sriracha-cured watermelon poke easily rivals its tuna counterpart, while the tangy coconut ceviche is hearty, filling, and delicious. The “chef’s selection” is a grand, plant-based sushi spread of nigiri and maki, rooted in ingredients like fresh, marinated mushrooms, cured papaya, and pickled celeriac. Naturally, the restaurant attracts a wellness-minded crowd.
Kaido, Miami Design District
Courtesy of Kaido
This evenings-only, Tokyo-style lounge by Miami “It Chef” Brad Kilgore and noted mixologist Nico de Soto is an intimate, high-design space tucked between the glossy retail boutiques of the Miami Design District. Beyond the transformative pan-Asian cocktail menu, Kaido serves healthy, light small plates, which commingle Japanese inspiration and raw, hyper-local ingredients. For example, the “Floridian fugu” is an eco-conscious treat of thinly sliced lionfish (a fish invasive to Florida reefs), seasoned with yuzu kosho, dressed in ponzu, and topped with caviar. Likewise, the grapefruit hamachi appetizer marries the complex flavors of Florida ruby red grapefruit with the simple, delicate taste of Japanese amberjack.
Courtesy of Hiden
Tucked behind an unassuming taco stand in Wynwood, this secret eight-seat micro-restaurant is worth the planning required to score a reservation (seats are available exclusively through tocktix.com and typically secured weeks or months in advance). Come at either 7pm or 10pm and anticipate a multi-hour, multi-course omakase experience, delighting in the chef’s choice of cold and hot dishes, with a heavy focus on seasonal raw fish and shellfish selections flown in from Japan. Like the best omakase restaurants in Japan, there’s no published menu; just trust in the skills and ethos of the chef, who’s thoroughly trained in delivering a night to remember.
Sushi By Hiro’s Yakko-San At AQ Chophouse, Sunny Isles Beach
North Miami Beach restaurant Yakko-San is a sushi mainstay for locals in-the-know, but guests at Acqualina Resort & Spa don’t need to leave the beachfront property to enjoy Chef Hiro’s greatest hits. Sushi by Yakko-San is available at AQ Chop House by Il Mulino, featured on a carefully curated menu that includes fresh sushi and sashimi by the piece, handrolls, and hosomaki, as well as more complex items like the salmon cucumber wrap, a roll of salmon, kani, avocado, and seaweed wrapped in cucumber, and the himachi jalapeno plate, sliced himachi in yuzu ponzu, topped with cilantro and peppered — literally — with jalapeno.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Plant Miami