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Review

Michael Pisarri

Itamae

Written by
Michael Pisarri

Itamae, as far as we’re concerned, is the center of Miami’s raw fish universe, and the city’s best example of the tongue-melting powers of Nikkei food, a cuisine that blends Peruvian and Japanese influences with dishes like ceviche, tiradito, sushi, and much more.

And here is a small list of things we’ve eaten at the Design District restaurant that’ve made us want to buy the entire kitchen Tempur-Pedic mattresses and a fancy white noise machine so they wake up every morning refreshed and ready to cook more of this stuff:

  • A roasted kanpachi collar with paper-thin skin that cracks like glass, revealing meat so soft and tender it tastes like a Dolly Parton ballad.
  • Striped bass ceviche swimming in an ají limo that throws a citrusy rave in your mouth and makes every taste bud get up and dance.
  • Crispy shrimp maki with a slice of lightly torched salmon laying atop the rice like it’s taking a delicious little nap.
  • A passion fruit, lemon verbena, and yuza cremolada that is a three-act play of salty, sour, and sweet flavors that no amount of food adjectives can prepare your tongue for.
Emily Schindler

Unfortunately, we can’t promise that you’ll encounter these same dishes, because Itamae is one of those places where the menu changes almost weekly, based on seasonality and available ingredients. But we can make one guarantee as to what you’re in for on any given visit: one of the best seafood experiences in Miami. That, first and foremost, is why you should come here.

Karli Evans

But the other delightful bonuses of Itamae include some lovely outdoor seating in a sunny courtyard surrounded by pretty architecture. The terrazzo sushi counter inside is a great place to dine solo or with a friend while listening to hip-hop, drinking sake, and fighting over the last bite of tiradito. Plus, Itamae is a pretty diverse restaurant - casual enough for a quick lunch in gym shorts, but also appropriate for any sort of special occasion that calls for a memorable meal and a bottle of wine.

And when it’s all said and done, you too will most likely leave with your own personal list titled: Things I Ate At Itamae That Made Me Want To Cry.

Food Rundown

The menu at Itamae changes frequently, but here are a few examples of the kind of dishes you might find here.

FujiFilmGirl
Cebiche Tradicional

This is truly the platonic ideal of ceviche. Every element works - from the crunchy cancha to the perfect fish to the ají that should absolutely be slurped off the plate.

Photo Courtesy Itamae
Baby Dutch Potatoes

These soft little potatoes come swimming in a green sauce made from shishito, egg, and preserved lemon. It’s tough to branch out from seafood here, but these are a worthy carb to have on the table.

Mary Beth Koeth
Bluefin Tuna Tiradito

The perfect, buttery fish is the star of the show here, but the crispy capers and punchy leche de tigre are like Steve Buscemi in a supporting roll. They just make it all work that much better.

Photo Courtesy Itamae
Roasted Collar

The collar tends to be where all the best meat is hiding on the fish, and Itamae proves it with this dish. The skin gets torched so it’s nice and crispy when it hits the table, and it comes with rice served cold and a large dollop of a garlic/citrus green sauce that should be involved in every bite.

FujiFilmGirl
Cremolada

Dessert is non-negotiable at Itamae, especially the cremolada, which defies all dessert logic by being sour, sweet, and savory all at once. It’s truly a dessert made for Miami, because the passion fruit/yuzu combination makes it refreshing enough to eat on a 90 degree night.

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