One of Miami’s best-kept secrets is an “underground speakeasy” style Omakase restaurant called Nossa Omakase at 1600 Collins Avenue, hidden in the unlikely location, the back of a poke restaurant (also owned by them) in South Beach.
Nossa means “wow” in Portuguese, and that is the best word to describe the experience here. The chef, Max Kamura, was born in Brazil of Japanese descent. His whole family has been sushi chefs. He respects the traditional techniques but mixes them with more modern, theatrical influences.
Your experience begins at Nossa Bar, after locating the red door and saying the password, you gain entrance into a cool lounge, complete with a private bar, black and white vintage Japanese films playing on the walls, and a great selection of Latin Jazz and Bossa Nova in the background. One of the four owners, Joe Citrano, greets you upon entry. He gave us a bit of background history on how the partners met, how they found this space and built it, all while we were drinking a complimentary Prosecco or Saké. How they will ever make money back on this place, with so few guests, is beyond me, but Joe tells me they make their money from the Koa Poke restaurant upfront. This helps them override the expenses here. This place is a labour of love and a passion project for them. Canadian partner Sebastian says he was tired of eating mediocre sushi in Miami. So, they decided to open up their own upscale eatery.
You settle in and wait for the other guests to arrive. When we dined there they had just one seating at 8pm for ten guests. Eventually, they will expand to doing 2 seatings a night. They had the misfortune of opening in March 2020 and were forced to close for 2 months during the height of the pandemic, after a long, arduous, and expensive build-out. But I must tell you it was worth the wait.
When everyone arrives we are escorted to the main dining room. A sliding door opens to reveal a dark, dramatic and exquisite “stage” curved sushi bar. The bar isn’t your typical imported wood from Japan, but made entirely from resin. There were 10 at the bar but at full capacity, they can accommodate 14 guests. The floors are made from polished lacquered concrete. There are accents of red and orchids. The ceilings with exposed beams are painted black. There is also a private table for 4 next to a living wall and beneath an architectural fixture. But for my money, the bar is where you want to be. A 15th-century Japanese bell is wrung and the show begins. Eighteen artfully crafted courses are paced out over 3 hours. All luxury ingredients from lobster, caviar, uni, truffles, and gold leaf are used to embellish different dishes. The chef places each plate under a pin spotlight at each seat and then explains the ingredients and preparation in detail. A few dishes are accompanied by some wonderful shots, like a Saké with yuzu, and watermelon. Each glass, dish, and receptacle are stunning, made by Japanese artisans in Brazil or Japan. Even the knives and kitchen gadgets that are used are a marvel to behold.
The chef is a cool dude who engages his guests unlike most places in Japan. You can also ask him questions. This is not the kind of restaurant you would go to on a regular basis, but more for a special occasion. The price was $250 a person before any beverage orders and is booked through Tock. But you won’t begrudge the price because the evening is special and memorable.
One complaint I had when I went during greater COVID19 restrictions was I wish the chef and his assistants didn’t wear fashion masks which left their mouths and noses fully exposed. I also did not appreciate the owners walking around and conversing with us wearing no masks. Also, it doesn’t make for good optics.
Is the rice, sushi, wagyu, and seafood of the highest order? I would say no, but it was still an opulent night to remember, and it was all about the service and the show.
When we dined there they were only serving Thursday through Sunday, however, they do special events like Mothers Day or Wagyu evenings.
And if Michelin ever makes it to Miami, this may be one spot they want to check out.