There are certain Miami dining rules you learn over the years - like how nobody goes to dinner before 9pm, people don’t really eat out during the summer, and a place you’d bring your friend who’s on a first-name basis with the door guy at E11even probably won’t work for your coworker who can’t even listen to a 2 Live Crew song without gasping. But KYU is the exception to those rules and it works perfectly for basically any restaurant situation we can think of.
KYU sits at the center of Miami’s dining Venn diagram, where special occasions, business meals, and impressing out of owners all meet. It’s great for just about every occasion, except maybe a first date - and that’s only because it gets a little loud when the dining room is full. And it’s just about always full, even on a Tuesday at 6pm during the summer. And amid the constant motion of the wide-open dining room, you’ll see a mix of the Brickell highrise crowd, bachelorette parties spilling out of the Wynwood Walls next door, and tourists sitting at the bar who probably Googled, “best fried chicken in Miami,” which KYU is certainly in the running for.
But there’s a lot more to try here than just the excellent chicken. The menu is broken up into seven sections with names like “crispy, crunchy,” “smoked,” and “wood-fired.” You’ll see everything from dishes with clear Japanese and Thai influence, to things like roasted cauliflower, burrata, and ceviche that don’t really fit any noticeable theme. But even an argumentative table can order in record time here thanks to a few dishes that are easy to share and just about impossible not to enjoy.
If your father-in-law is a little too boring for the great soft-shell crab bao buns, then get an order of the Korean fried chicken with spicy red chili butter underneath. If you’ve used up all your go-to small talk with that third-tier friend you agreed to finally have dinner with, get the Thai fried rice stone pot, which is mixed tableside and will give you both an excuse to stare at the food for five minutes in content silence. When you’ve been forced into eating with your boss who thinks a person’s character is determined by the amount of red meat they can consume, then impress him or her by getting the beef short ribs for the table. It comes sliced on a bone that wouldn’t look out of place in a woolly mammoth skeleton and includes lettuce, pickled onions, and some sauces so everyone at the table can make their own little wraps.
The dining cliche of saying “you can’t go wrong” does not apply to 99.9 percent of restaurants, but at KYU, you’d need to put in some serious effort to have a bad experience since the normal rules of the Miami dining universe just don’t apply here. So make a reservation - even if you plan on coming on a Monday during the hottest week of the year and Mario from accounting insists on eating at 5pm because he watched a scary movie yesterday and is now afraid of the dark.
The contrast of the soft bao bun with the crispy fried soft-shell crab is like ASMR for your mouth. Is that a thing? It should be.
The Korean fried chicken does all the things fried chicken is supposed to do - and it does them very well: crispy outside and juicy inside with an awesome red chili butter that adds the perfect amount of heat.
This is a good burrata with some toasted bread from Zak the Baker on the side. If you really want to order a bunch of things, skip this to save room for the bigger dishes. But if you’re just trying to have a low-key dinner and are cool with filling up on bread and cheese, go for it.
The name really undersells this showstopper. It’s not just beef short ribs, it’s a huge slab of beef short rib that looks like it came from a dinosaur. There are lettuce wraps and some sides like cucumber and pickled onions for you to make your own lettuce wraps with too.
It’s a tartare built like tuna nigiri - but they fry the rice into a crispy little rectangle and multiplied the portion of tuna times two. No one would judge you if you came here and just got three orders of this.
If you don’t order this, you deserve to be hit in the head with a stone pot. Maybe that will knock some sense into you. They mix this beauty tableside and it’s hypnotizing.
A great veggie in case you want something on the table that isn’t just meat. Then again, this also kind of tastes like meat thanks to the great grill job and brown butter ponzu.
This is a very photogenic piece of cauliflower with great color on top - but the best part of the dish is hiding underneath all that: a lovely pool of goat cheese. Don’t forget to scoop it up with every bite you take.
This is what happens when duck does an impression of barbecue brisket - and it’s truly one of the best things you can eat here. This duck might have a future on SNL.
The snapper is tender and cooked very well, but if it arrives at the table at the same time as the short ribs or fried chicken, it’s going to get upstaged.