“KO” means “turtle” and “number one” in Japanese, and is considered a symbol of happiness and a good omen, as ancient Japanese beliefs say turtles live 10,000 years. First opened in 1988 in San Paulo, Brazil by Chef George Yaji Koshoji, KO is known for its superb fish techniques, freshness, high-quality ingredients, creative and innovative presentations, and stylish atmosphere, garnering the flagship restaurant a Michelin Star four years in a row. Eventually, they opened a second place in Brazil, with the Miami location being their first international endeavour for the brand.
Located at 801 South Pointe Park, just around the corner from Joe’s Stone Crab, the minimal signage outside and the dark windows make it a bit difficult to find, but trust me, as soon as you open the doors you enter into a stylish, chic, and modern designed 3,300 square foot space. Kosushi Restaurant seats 66, and has a ten-seat sushi bar in the center of the room as its focal point. These are always the best seats in the house for me. You can see the action and discuss what you want to order with the chef. The ceiling and walls consist of wooden square boxes, or wooden structures, a light shade of an oak-like wood, with intricate joints using no glue or metal supports. It really is a marvel to behold. The colour palette is comprised of neutral, zen-inspired hues. Designed by the same award-winning architect as their Brazilian locations, the design of the restaurant really should be applauded.
I ventured in during soft opening. The bar was not fully operational and not every item was available on the menu. However, I managed to secure a decent saké and enjoy a wonderful dinner.
Under the direction of Colombian-born, Executive Chef Edwin Delgado (previously of Tanuki and Nobu), the Miami menu is similar to the Brazilian restaurants’ focus on Japanese cuisine with Brazilian touches, while also adding flavours unique to Miami. They will also offer a signature cocktail menu, an extensive wine list, and a full range of sakes, curated by mixologist, Marcio Silva.
I sat at the sushi bar directly in front of Chef Delgado and he helped me with some excellent suggestions. He also was the one to personally create each dish for me. The menu is divided into cold small dishes, signature dishes since 1988, signature nigiri, chef’s choice, temaki hand rolls, maki, hot small dishes, and sushi and sashimi. I tried to have something from every section. The scallop in black salt, the ikura, with egg and salmon roe, the king crab nigiri, and the snapper with madai jelly were all first class. The eel hand roll was also stellar. Even the creamy spicy shrimp is a nice rendition of Nobu’s classic dish. My only complaint, and it is a small one, was the salmon usuzukuri, with ponzu, chive, and chopped red pepper sprinkles. It was pre-made, probably because the presentation is time-consuming, and although very tasty, it was served too cold directly from the fridge.
Desserts were not available during soft opening, but I would probably like to try the rice flour churros with a side of warm green tea and chocolate dipping sauce with milk foam. That will be for next time.
I found the food priced well, compared to other similar restaurants like Zuma, Nobu, and Katsuya. Every plate was picture perfect.