Last time we were in Miami, I couldn’t snag a reservation at NAOE, one of the best Japanese restaurants in the country. Lucky us–this time we got in for the 9:30 seating. After a quick cab ride to Sunny Isles, we entered the tiny (just 17 seats!) and elegant temple of sushi. Whether you’re a raw fish aficionado (my husband) or not (moi), Naoe is simply perfect in every way. From the enormous slab of rare cypress that serves as sushi bar, to the handthrown ceramic dishes, to the sake brewed by the chef’s family in Japan, every detail is thoughtful and considered.
To start, Chef Kevin Cory presents you with a Bento Box, filled with interesting and unusual edibles: a silken, savory custard with portabella mushrooms, fried Aori Ika fin, Kumamoto oyster with citrus soy, a pretty whelk, transparent slices of Cobia next to a small pile of freshly grated wasabi, a bowl of butternut squash miso soup and a mound of sardine rice with Daikon. For most, that would be plenty, but we couldn’t possibly say no to Wendy, our delightful and adorable hostess and manager, so we signed on for the nine course sushi tasting.  A parade of fish flown in daily from all corners of the world is presented piece by piece until you surrender.
My husband ate all of it and I managed most–the salmon belly, poached lobster, blanched scallops and eel were standouts. We staggered out, stuffed to the gills (sorry, couldn’t resist) at 1 a.m. An evening at Naoe is one you’ll never forget. The downside? This place will ruin you for your regular sushi joint forever.