how do you make the best of a stopover?

the naoe bento boxWhat to do with 16 hours in Miami? The same as I’d do anywhere… a meal, a walk and a museum. We landed at 8 pm. We were leaving at 1 the next afternoon. And I hoped to include 8 hours of shut eye.

To start, it’s find the perfect restaurant. I did. Noae. They have 2 seatings. 6:30 and 9:30. We cleared customs, dropped our bags at the hotel, and dashed to dinner. For one of the best Japanese meals of my life. They only seat 8 people at a time. $220 a head. Omakase. You get what they cook. Their tag line is “it’s not fresh, its alive”. Luckily, they don’t actually serve anything still living. I’m adventurous, but…

chef kevin coryKevin Cory is head chef, general manager and, according to his business card, dishwasher.  He grew up in Miami, learning about all things Japanese from his mother. Her family owns an exclusive sake and soy sauce producing company in Japan. Their products are served at the restaurant. I wish you could take home the soy sauces. The refined, delicate, unique flavors were so delicious. I would never use Kikkoman again. Kevin spent years self-training and experimenting before undertaking a formal apprenticeship with the renowned Kaiseki chef (and his uncle) Yasushi Naoe.  Kevin opened Noae in 2009 and started winning awards.

vinegar maine lobster and pea blossomsWell deserved. The meal starts with a bento box. Historically these multi sectioned containers were used as lunch boxes. Kevin’s is a wonderland of tiny bites. A single sake steamed little neck clam was perfection. As was the konbujime, marinated swordfish served with edible flowers and fresh wasabi grated on a piece of shark’s skin. This ‘first course’ was followed by broiled madai, a Japanese seabream. I was underwhelmed, realizing I really do prefer my fish raw. Luckily, the 11 sashimi and nigari dishes which followed were orgasmic. Beautiful, innovative and oh so tasty. No California roll here. My favorites were the cured mullet roe, salt pickled sea cucumber innards and the sea urchin. They were served together, and while they shared a common saltiness and flavor saturation they were each distinct, unusual and not the least bit fishy.walking through an installation

Dinner was more experience than meal. We sat at the counter and chatted with Kevin and his team throughout, learning about the dishes, Japanese traditions, history and the food scene in Miami.  We called an Uber around 12:45.

A relatively late night. Did not get up at the crack of dawn to wander the beach as planned. But did manage to check out of the hotel and into PAMM (Perez Art Museum Miami) by 10 am. Pritzker prize winning architects Herzog & de Meuron designed the space which showcases the ever-changing multimedia exhibitions. We enjoyed several video installations and an odd show of typewriter generated art. The exhibits change regularly so I can’t give any must sees. However, the sculpture garden is wonderful, interactive and fun while the gift shop is a terrific place to pick up little treats. I’m always on the lookout for stocking stuffers. A quick, early lunch at the museum’s restaurant and we were on our way back to the airport.

Stopover: done and dusted!perez art museum miami