Walk up the steps of the glamorous Stanton Hotel, make a sharp left, and breeze through the black curtains to enter the intimate, refined setting of AZABU Miami Beach. Chef Masatsugu Kubo from Plan Do See America merged Kaiseki style cuisine with a Ryotei setting to create the brilliant eatery. The lighting inside is dim, but there are two areas that shine brightly: Bar AZABU, and the open Robata-style kitchen. The bar showcases sakes and over 40 imported whiskies, making it tempting to order a drink or two.


Dishes are served izakaya-style, where you are free to order multiple small, shareable plates for a more diverse dining experience. First, I was presented with Tomorokoshi Tempura as a starter. This crispy corn tempura was a pleasure to bite into, releasing sweet corn niblets that contrasted perfectly with the spicy curry salt. The main dish and my favorite of the night was Gindara Saikyo Yaki Oroshi Ponzu. Black cod arrived, wrapped in a huge leaf alongside grated radish and sweet-citrusy ponzu sauce. A touch of my chopsticks was enough for it to fall apart, no effort involved. It tasted like the sea, but in a good way—you know what you’re getting is fresh. Pieces of cucumber and the Japanese Yamamomo served as palette cleansers, with the fruit resembling something between a raspberry and lychee that I loved. Next came the Avo-Uni which consists of a grilled half avocado, Uni, and wasabi. Soy sauce was on the side for dipping, but I poured it all over the avocado and dug in. I was skeptical about trying the Uni, but the salty sea taste was an unexpected and welcome addition to the scrumptious avocado, and it was all gone in a couple of seconds.


The ending of the night was the sweetest when a Japanese dessert staple made its way to the table. The Strawberry Shaved Ice proved to be a spectacle with a mountain of vanilla flavored “ice,” complemented by fresh strawberries throughout. Next was the Raindrop Cake, a truly unusual but enticing dessert that I didn’t hesitate to bite into. The gelatin came in a fun raindrop shape, and Japanese brown sugar sauce was poured all over to add some sugary flavor. AZABU can be for two, but it’s so good you’ll want it all for you!

Stanton Hotel, 161 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach

By Aaliyah Pasols