A few years ago, I blogged about the restaurant scene in the Miami Beach area and I entitled the post “Foodie Heaven.” No doubt, the Miami area is one of the best places to visit if you want to have your taste buds tantalized, and as is the case for many large cities, there are always new restaurants popping up to keep you on your toes. Ironically, it was around the time that I wrote Foodie Heaven that KYU emerged onto the Miami restaurant scene but I failed to discover it until last year. And boy what a discovery it was!
KYU (pronounced /kyo͞o/) is an Asian-inspired restaurant located in the artsy and hip Wynwood district in Miami. I want to point out that while the food definitely uses a lot of Asian spices and techniques, I promise you it is in a class all its own. Each dish is artfully crafted, mirroring the artistic, eclectic feel of the neighborhood in which the restaurant resides. The atmosphere is laid back and relaxed with a modern, chic type of vibe and the staff is pleasant, friendly and knowledgeable about the dishes.
I most recently visited for the third time, allowing me to sample a good portion of the diverse menu, which has a little something for everybody no matter what type of eater you are. I’m not really sure how this is possible, but each time I’ve visited I’ve fallen more in love with the food. That’s why, hands down, this has become my favorite restaurant to visit in the Miami area.
Let’s start with the roasted cauliflower. I know what you’re thinking. Cauliflower, really? Yes, really. It’s just that good! The sauce, made with goat cheese and shishito-herb vinaigrette, is really what makes this dish, and if you’re not convinced you just have to take my word for it. My mom, who historically has not been a fan of cauliflower or broccoli, devours it every time we visit.
KYU is known especially for its wood fire items, which in my opinion have the most dynamic flavors out of all of the other menu items. And they want you to know that for every tree they burn, they replant five.
At the top of my wood-fire item list: the Thai fried rice stone pot. This is not like any other fried rice you’ve had before. The rice is actually not fried at all, rather it simmers in a stone pot that is filled with all the yummy goodness that you can imagine including a bunch of Thai herbs and spices like lemongrass and Thai basil. Don’t be alarmed by the partially cooked egg that comes on top as it is delivered to the table. The waiter carefully mixes everything together for you at the table as the rice and all its ingredients continue to cook. It’s actually an experience!
For you fried chicken lovers, you’ve got to try the Korean fried chicken. It’s not smothered in grease like the others in my top five best fried chicken recipes, but I assure you it made it to the list. I especially love the red chili butter (think hot sauce) accompanying it that makes it good for sopping, if you can stand the heat.
Also on the wood fire list is the Florida red snapper, which most recently became my favorite dish on the menu. It literally melted in my mouth and I wanted to cry. I’m really not exaggerating. I felt a tear well up in the corner of my eye and I had to laugh at myself. The brown butter-white miso that was delicately drizzled on top just made the dish for me. It was so good I ate little bites just so I could savor it for a little while longer. I did not want it to end! Don’t judge me.
Some additional menu items that I would recommend are the baby back ribs, the beef short ribs, and the soft-shell crab (served in traditional steamed Chinese buns). They are all delightful in their own right. Admittedly, I have not tried everything on the menu but based on everything I’ve had so far, you can’t go wrong.
Some other things to note if you plan to visit KYU. Perhaps try family style on your first visit, which many of the menu items can accommodate. Because there are so many good dishes to try, you may want to order several of them so each person in your party can partake in the deliciousness. Also, this restaurant is moderately priced compared to many of the restaurants in the Miami area, with happy hour offering half off many of the popular dishes.
Last word of caution. If you’re planning to go, be sure to make a reservation. I’m not the only one who thinks KYU is pretty amazing. You’re welcome!