NaiYaRa Miami Review – Vibrant Thai Cuisine
After reading about all the beautiful food our Foodie-in-Chief, Ari, is relishing during his month-long stay in Thailand, I was very excited to be invited to the new Thai restaurant, NiaYaRa Miami. Once inside, you could feel the ecstatic vibe radiating from the upscale crowd dining at Sunset Harbour neighborhood’s latest hot spot.
The chef and co-owner is Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, or Chef Bee, has he is known to his fans from his stint at Khong River House and his own North Miami restaurant, Oishi Thai. Born in a small town in Northern Thailand to farmers, Chef Bee consciously buys his produce fresh from a local Thai farm in Homestead.
Thai cuisine is traditionally experienced communally at restaurants, which meant we could try a variety of Chef Bee’s dishes, and compare our favorites with the friendly diners at the tables nearby.
While perusing the menu, we dove into the highly recommended Crispy Bok Choi with our chopsticks. The dark green toasted Chinese Cabbage, tossed with Sweet Soy Sauce and Garlic Chips, achieved the ultimate balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.
Brittany, our wonderful server, helped me select a sweet, yet spicy cocktail from their specialty drink menu, the Yu-Tang-Rising rimmed with Sriracha Salt. This tasty, but red hot concoction is comprised of smooth Maestro Dobel Diamante Tequila mixed with Maraschino (Cherry) and Pama (Pomegranate) liqueurs, and a splash of Yuzu+Tang Sour.
Although we came for Thai, we had to try some selections from the raw bar. Especially when we learned that 35% of the fish is purchased from local fishermen, and the remaining majority, is mostly imported from Japan.
The White Fish Truffle came beautifully piled high on six Chinese duck spoons. Along with Truffle Oil, the dish was flavored with Lychee, Yuzu, Hawaiian Sea Salt and Wasabi Caviar, and had the taste of fresh grapefruit. The Salmon Tacos were filled with Salmon buttered in Spicy Mayonnaise, Avocado and Truffle Oil inside Fried Wonton Shells. Both sharable plates were light and fun to eat.
For a hot appetizer, we had the delectable Popcorn Shrimp, or Goong Tod Grob, -Jumbo Shrimp and large Shitake Mushrooms in a Tempura batter and coated with Spicy Mayonnaise.
After deciding on sake with dinner, NiaYaRa’s talented bar manager, Tibor, brought over a carafe of slightly chilled Fukucho Junmai Ginjo – (or Moon On Water). The pale green, premium brew from Hiroshima had a sweet fragrant mix of pear, honeydew, and golden apple; with a hint mango on the palate, yet not sweet; and a clean, soft finish. We were mindful to follow Japanese etiquette of never pouring your own sake; only one another’s.
It is traditional in Thailand to use a fork only to push your food onto your spoon, -then, put the spoon in your mouth. However, we were able to stick pretty much with our chopsticks throughout dinner, until the main course.
So far our dishes were more flavored with spices, then spicy hot. Not so the Red Curry (or Gang Dang Ped) with Jasmine Rice. I was most excited about this dish with my favorite curry, and favorite poultry. The peppery hot Red Curry Paste was cooked into an aromatic Coconut Milk-based sauce with chunks of Pineapple and sliced Red Bell Peppers that covered crispy, yet moist Duck. The gaminess of the duck combined so well with the savory curry that now I couldn’t have it served any other way.
To finish, we had the Naiyara Miami Brown Sugar Cake, which only sounds heavy. This dessert was reminiscent of a trifle, –Coconut Mousse with a layer of Caramelized Bananas on a Brown Sugar cake-like crust, and topped with Guava Granita. We enjoyed digging through each and every exotic layer of this scrumptious treat, -and, so will you.
NaiYaRa Miami is located in South Beach’s Sunset Harbour neighborhood, at 1854 Bay Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139. For reservations or more information, please visit: naiyara.com