Five stars across the board, my top rating goes to Novikov Miami, a sophisticated new entry in Miami’s dining scene featuring Japanese and Chinese cuisine. I’m talking about decor, menu, food, service and atmosphere. Seldom when I read a menu do I find so many appealing dishes that I’m already plotting my return visit .Miami is loving the place, judging by its being packed even early in the week in July. Novikov is the first US outpost of chef owner Arkady Novikov who has 50 restaurants in London, Dubai, and primarily Moscow.
Novikov knows how to do glamour, be it of a formal yet contemporary kind as in his Bolshoi restaurant in Moscow which I had the privilege to enjoy recently. Or, the Miami restaurant, that’s more casual glam, similar to the one in London. The design consultant was Adam Tihany who has worked on high profile hotels around the world. On entering, you’ll see a stylish bar with backlit lighting to the right, and a whimsical textile sculpture to the left, part of the curated art collection. But what really grabs the attention is the Chinese red wall, a backdrop to glistening fresh fish and shellfish that informs many of the dishes, and a large open kitchen that turns out to be five kitchens, for sushi, robata, dim sum, wok and duck. Flattering lighting illuminates the table and banquette seating with structural columns reimagined as graceful tree trunks punctuating the space.
The menu is four columns, two devoted to Japanese cuisine and two to Chinese — appetizers, sashimi, caviar, maki, tempura, soups, salads, dim sum, robata, duck, rice and noodles, and wok.There’s also what they call “fish market” with a selection of fish and shellfish that you can have steamed, fried or made on the robata grill.
We started with the salt and pepper tofu ($8). I’m not a tofu fan, but I loved this dish. The tofu was flash fried so the outside was slightly crusty and the inside creamy. It was served with alioli. Next up was the hamachi carpaccio, thin slices dotted with shaved truffle that lent a slighty nutty flavor ($26).
In the maki section it was suggested we try the rainbow naruto, a cucumber wrap filled with king crab, salmon and ponzu sauce ($16). Another crowd favorite is the ultimate spicy tuna ($16), its kick from chipotle mayo and a siracha style sauce.
A standout was the Novikov duck salad, an ideal option if you love Peking duck but you want something lighter. It’s crispy yet moist sliced duck with the skin on served with microgreens, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts ($21). Peking duck is also offered in half and full size portions.
For dim sum the choice was tough. We chose the less usual saffron sweet corn dumplings, its wrapper so thin as to almost be transparent, melting in our mouths ($10). Next time we’re going to have the spicy prawn moneybags or even just go one day for lunch for the dim sum.
We passed up the king crab leg with honey truffle butter from the robata in favor of the Wagyu beef skirt steak with yuzu chimichurri and garlic ($32).
Highly recommended, and good to accompany it with steamed broccolini with red chili and oyster sauce ($14). Or opt for a medley of vegetables.
A separate dessert menu includes seven selections including a dessert platter with a chef’s selection. There are favorites like lava cake and guava cheesecake, but we wanted something different so tried the Tropical Ki-iro ($14). Refreshingly light and tasty, it included passion fruit, white chocolate ice cream, mango, mint, basil and meringue on top.
Service is friendly and professional. Try to get Francisco Soto as your waiter and say we sent you!
Plates are made for sharing.. A glass of wine (6 ounce pour) starts at $12; bottles at $48. Cocktails are priced in the teens. It’s a very “hot”, buzzy restaurant so the noise level can be energetic especially if you go at prime time. That being said, we went at 8 p.m. and were able to carry on a conversation with no problem (we sat near the window).
Parking is $5 for lunch and $15 for dinner with validation.
Novikov Miami, 300 South Biscayne Boulevard (T.305-489-1000). it’s open for dinner seven nights a week and for lunch Monday through Friday.
It’s pricey but worth it. And happily, they’re offering Miami Spice menus!