His makeover of miso black cod, both a Japanese and Katsuya staple, pairs miso- and sake-marinated sablefish with creamed daikon, Hudson Valley asparagus, and “edible sand.” Taking a page from the molecular gastronomy pioneered by José Andrés and Ferran Adrià at Spain’s incomparable El Bulli, the folly is actually tapioca maltodextrin, a starch that renders fats and flavors, in this case misoinfused oil, seaweed powder, and dried Japanese anchovies, into a sandy-like texture.
For a touch of decadence he served up wagyu beef tartare, and two cuts of American waygu topped with foie gras and plum wine reduction. Seasonal specialties include the Chef’s Omakase, Miranda’s tasting series based on the “surprise box” of hand-selected delicacies shipped twice each week by his vendor at Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji fish market.
On the specialty cocktail front, I liked the Burning Mandarin, a spicy mix of Absolut Mandarin vodka, hand-crushed serrano chili, fresh lemon, orange juice, and cranberry.
Dessert, with a tableside visit from Miranda’s ruggedly handsome Russian hus band Alexey, included the strawberry shortcake-inspired Geisha’s Kiss and key lime-driven Winter in Osaka.
Hfterward, breathless from the food and experience, I walked amid the soaring glass towers of Brickell. As Miami’s powerhouse financial and business center, the neighborhood, also a hot residential district, it’s a universe apart from the Art Deco trappings of Miami Beach. Directly facing the highend retailers and other multi-use tenants of the two-million-square-foot Brickell City Centre, the SLS LUX Brickell is a sleek fit in the neighborhood’s luxury work-play mix.
Joining nearby sibling SLS Brickell and SLS South Beach (also featuring a Katsuya restaurant), the hotel offers 84 suites and 450 luxury condominiums. My balconied seventh-floor king suite, designed along with the rest of the hotel’s interiors by the Yabu Pushelberg studio, provided a spacious oasis of gently curving walls and sensuously rounded furniture. Plus, a great rain shower and adjacent tub, and cabinet stocked with lifestyle goodies. There’s also the intimate Ciel Spa; palm tree-lined outdoor pool with cabanas and lounge area; and artful touches including the XO design kisses throughout and Fernando Botero’s ten-foot-tall bronze “Male Torso, 1992” standing sentinel in S Bar’s outdoor patio.
Minutes into my walk, and there was the Mandarin Oriental where Miranda had first flourished a decade earlier. How far he had come, staying home in the Miami market versus journeying afield like many chefs. Except, of course, that his story began a time long ago half a world away. Liberata would be very proud.