James Beard award finalist Brad Kilgore opened his latest venture just in time for Art Basel 2018, Kaido at 151 NE 41st in the heart of the Miami Design District. It is located on the second floor situated directly on top of his soon to open barbecue/wood fired restaurant, Ember. Kaido is a 2,200 square foot lounge serving Japanese inspired cocktails and finger food and shareable Japanese inspired plates. Chef Brad already serves extraordinary, precision food with exacting high standards at his restaurants Alter and Brava. Here he is breaking away from the formal, traditional format, where the focus is on fresh, local ingredients and equal emphasis on great cocktails, by the in-house mixologist, Nico de Santo. Drinks are a creative twist on the classics, like my negroni for instance. It had gin, amaro, sweet vermouth, and a shiso leaf. The flavor of the shiso really came through and gave this drink a distinctive, fresh take. There is a notable amount of craft cocktails, sakes, beer, wine and large format, shareable drinks.
The menu is divided into raw/chilled, appetizers, robatayaki, indulge and one sweet. The center of the menu are some specialty items like a wonderful uni fondue, a warm velvety sauce of uni and aged Parmesan with a selection of seafood, vegetables, mini bao buns, spices and herbs. You can upgrade this dish by adding crab or caviar. And, speaking of caviar, they offer Siberian, Imperial and Kaluga Osetra as well. There is also Grilled king crab legs, and crispy Iberico pork.
The standout dishes were the above fondue, the Korean style short ribs (but only 3 pieces of Miami ribs at $38, was a little pricey), the Koji drumsticks with a truffle chili ponzu butter, and the knockout enoki mushrooms in a browned umami butter. We went with the Nigiri platter with a choice of three selections from the chef. If I am being honest, I was a little disappointed with these. But Brad Kilgore is the first to point out, he is no sushi chef, and I concur. But, he does respect Japanese cuisine, and many of the dishes are bursting with flavour.
The space is a small, dark, sexy Tokyo style den. Only 8 cramped tables inside and a large, stunning bar with a custom chandelier made with 1,000 butterfly knives. The lighting is dim, in this 42 seat capacity space, and that seating also includes the outside terrace, that has sofas, ottomans and low tables. The seating is not the cushiest, some would call it cozy, others would call it uncomfortable. You are not here to dine, they made that evident with the rushed service. You are here to drink and nibble. But opening soon is a secret 20 seat room, where they will offer a chefs choice dining experience.
Only 5 days old when I visited, the restaurant was packed, a real scene, and a crowd pleaser.