Miami has been experiencing an influx of South American eateries in the last few years. As of the end of December 2019, another internationally acclaimed upscale restaurant called Osaka opened at 1300 Brickell Bay Drive. This Nikkei restaurant is a Japanese/Peruvian import, with currently nine locations throughout South America. This will be its tenth location, plus another one opening in London. I’m not usually a fan of chain restaurants but this place may have just won me over.
Food in Peru is as varied as its terrain, with its biodiversity of mountains, rainforests, and coastlines, as well as its many influences from immigrant groups, such as Japanese immigrants who came to Peru at the turn of the 20th century to work on plantations. There are about 90,000 Japanese living in Peru today. That is not a huge number compared to the population but it was enough to influence Nikkei cuisine. Actually Nobu Matsuhisa of the famed Nobu restaurant chain opened his first restaurant in Lima Peru in 1973. Now they are located globally. The concept is by friends Diego Herrera and Diego de la Puente. They have continued their winning formula of using Japanese techniques and Peruvian flavours and ingredients.
The restaurant is visually stunning, encompassing walls to resemble ancient Peruvian walls, as well as wood structures and ceilings that infuse a modern Japanese architecture. The space has high ceilings that are about two stories, and there are lots of windows to let in natural light. They seat about 150 patrons all in, which includes the bars, dining room, lounge and outdoor patio. The tables are solid wood from the Amazon in Peru and all the dishware and wooden interiors come from Peru as well. The lighting is dim and they play a modern playlist in the background. They tried to open in time for Art Basel, but if you know anything about renovating and permits in the city of Miami, then you know about the constant delays. Regardless, you can see they spared no expense – the place is gorgeous and well worth the wait.
The kitchen is helmed by chefs Rogger Quispe and Juan Urrutia. They feature many of their famous recipes from their other restaurants plus a few unique dishes for their Miami location. The menu is divided into ceviches, tiraditos, makimono, nigiris, Peruvian izakaya, al carbon and tokusen main courses. The waitstaff is helpful in guiding you through the large menu. Our server, Julio, suggested some of the highlights like the carpassion, a salmon tiradito with passion fruit honey and crispy rice strips, which was a real standout. The clasico ceviche is good but served too chilled for my liking. The tableside torched scallops with truffle butter and the torched shrimp gratin are delicious nigiris. Another favourite for me was the sautéed seafood in a butter lime and ginger sauce that came to the table a blaze. The seafood rice skillet with charred avocado is reminiscent of a great paella. The pisco ribs are very meaty and fall off the bone, done in a citrus pisco glaze with coriander and cacoa nibs. I hope they will provide a wet towel in the future so I don’t have to lick my fingers next time.
The entire menu sounds delicious, it really was hard to choose.
For dessert we thought the Amazonian “supriso”, which means, “sigh”, was a beautiful presentation served in a carved out cocoa bean, with lemongrass manjar, soursop ice cream, matcha meringue, and chocolate Peruvian soil. But the best dessert for me was the miso toffee crumble, with roasted quince, sesame seeds, lucuma ice cream and miso butterscotch.
There was a huge selection of Pisco crafted cocktails, whiskey, beer and wines.
All in all, it was a delightful meal. Osaka brings a unique and cultural dining experience to Miami.