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Kaori Miami: Downtown’s Chicest Dine

Foodie , March 04, 2022

Restaurants in Miami

Kaori, a two-story Mediterranean-Asian-inspired culinary concept nestled in the very heart of downtown Brickell brings two levels of unparalleled indulgence and entertainment to the neighborhood, helmed at the culinary hands of renowned Chef Raymond Li.

Upon arrival, Kaori immediately embraces you with a naturalistic style, where every detail is thoughtfully curated to capture your attention with their signature bar and lounge area. Appealing to those looking for an inviting neighborhood spot with an authentic evening-time vibe, the bar and lounge area also brings an inspired mixture of entertainment, live music, and exotic instrumentals from a wide range of cultures. The music component of the space plays a fundamental role in establishing the identity of KAORI as a whole, lending to the curation of the venue’s full-sensory guest experience. 

Esteban Bressan’s vision was brought to life as a collaborative initiative between critically-acclaimed Miami-based design firm Spazio/Bressan and Interior Image Group (IIG), every space within the two-story concept was designed to offer an authentic, harmonic ambiance to enhance the guest’s overall experience, that is: the KAORI experience. Bressan’s multi-disciplinary vision for KAORI entwines both Mediterranean and Asian-influenced design elements with a natural and minimalist undertone. The bright, open, airy space exudes a balance between sophistication and casual comfort that celebrates simplicity through a modest palette of organic materials. Light-toned wall finishes and flooring contrasts with darker design elements, giving the venue a sense of inviting warmth. Lush greenery enlivens the space and adds another layer to the natural look and feel, building onto the connection between the location’s urban setting and nature.

Restaurants in Miami
Restaurants in Miami

Beyond the bar and lounge space, we were led across a dimly lit staircase, which elegantly links to KAORI’s spacious upstairs dining area. We were seated in the coziest booth and anxiously awaiting Chef Raymond Li’s specially curated tasting menu. If I were to tell you that every single plate was a success, there’s no way you would believe me because when does that ever happen?? Chef Li unleashed his culinary artistry with a menu that exudes a diverse and sophisticated fusion of flavors, colorful and texturally rich ingredients. Highlighting farm-to-table practices, and the sourcing of local ingredients and quality fresh fish. There’s no way we were leaving that place without asking about his stroke of genius.

Miami Chef

Talk about presentation! Chef Raymond, every single dish came out like a work of art. We did notice, though, that some of the tastings were served on what seemed to be beautifully crafted and well curated plates. What's the story? “Thank you and yes, great eye! I recently took a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico with Juan Pablo Tonkin & Diego Pagola (KAORI Executives) to look and source tableware for the restaurant. We connected directly with a few of the Artisans who have been crafting for centuries, got to see the amazing process from start to finish and watched our tableware come to life.” 

So, let's talk about how light and exquisite those Crispy Prawns were. What's your secret? “It’s the tempura we use to encase the prawns before wrapping them with shredded phyllo. The lemon zest and black caraway sweet & sour helps cut through the fat which also attributes to its lightness. This dish is an homage to the great Chef Joel Robuchon in which I learned how to do them during my time in Paris at his restaurant - L ‘Atelier De Joel Robuchon.” 

Cooked and seasoned to perfection, what was the inspiration behind the Blue oyster Mushrooms? “Thank you. I love mushrooms and wanted to have a dish on our menu for our vegan friendly guests, that had substance. I met Shauna of Gratitude Garden Farms last year and loved the funky varieties she was carrying as well as the texture of the mushrooms that she offers. I knew I had to bring them in when I was given the opportunity to. Here at KAORI, we highlight the beautiful Blue Oyster Mushrooms which is cooked with scallion quickly on the wok with a touch of garlic and ginger, then glazed with our jeow som ponzu butter for a nice salty, citrusy, fatty and spicy mushroom dish. It is then topped with

chives & toasted rice pearls to add more dimension to its texture.”

Aside from an incredible culinary focus, guests can also expect a sublime cocktail, wine, and sake programming. Prominent local bartender, James Maclnnes, serves as KAORI’s Beverage Director, where he incorporates a variety of innovative ingredients from different cuisines into the signature cocktail menu. Pulling influence from his residencies in Sydney, New York City, and Miami’s bar scene, James’ approach is minimalist, flavor-focused, with a notable emphasis on execution and elegant presentation. KAORI’s wine and sake offerings are spearheaded by two powerhouse women, Macarena Carrillo and Mariel Dalmau, who double as the founders of the natural wine social club, Grape Crush Miami. Their method creates a sustainable and innovative program, blending classics while simultaneously pushing boundaries.

KAORI’s menu offers an eclectic culinary journey through land and sea. From the delicately warm-toned interior, to the exceptional food and beverage programming, to the synergetic entertainment component, every extension of KAORI naturally blends to create a harmonic likeness throughout. It’s a Miami experience you don’t want to miss out on.

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