New restaurants popping up on the banks of the Miami River are like the stereotypical Miami girl: beautiful, but lacking substance. Not Dashi. While most of its neighbors deliver on the scene, not the food, Dashi excels at both. This fine-dining newcomer opened its doors inside the River Yacht Club (the old Finnegan's on the River space) last Friday. In anticipation, they held a media preview on Thursday night during which we awed over their waterfront digs, their seductive ambiance, and the high quality, high flavor Japanese menu.
"This is romantic, isn't it?" asked a friend. "The water, the wind, a cool breeze coming in, watching the beautiful boats go by..." If our evening at Dashi sounds like a dream, it's because it truly was. We whiled away two hours at a waterside table sipping on cocktails and admiring the bright Miami skyline. As the yachts passed by, we stared after them whistfully and argued fervently over which one(s) we would each buy if we won the lotto, our friendly banter interrupted only by the arrival our beautifully plated dishes.
Dashi's menu is organized into eight categories: Cold, Salads, Hot, Soup & Udon, Sushi & Sashimi, Maki, Cold Sides, and Hot Sides. We were privvy to a curated selection of these categories and ordered at least one dish from each. Below we listed the options we sampled and briefly share our thoughts on each. While we loved absolutely everything we ate, the lamb and the duck were deemed by our party to be "in a neck-to-neck competition for the highest enjoyment taste of the evening."
Cold: Ocean Scallops with Russian oestra caviar and yuzu. The flavors were outstanding, the presentation (which was creatively comprised of a non-edible seaweed base) was our favorite of the evening.
Cold: Hamachi Ponzu with shio-kobu, cucumber, and micro cilantro. If you like thinly sliced yellowtail, this dish is a light, fresh must-have.
Salads: Cha-Soba Salad with shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and edamame. A straight-forward dish of which we noted: "Delicious."
Hot: Duck Breast with su-miso, fried leek and five spice. The meat was incredibly tender, more similar to a piece of filet mignon than poultry.
Hot: Lamb with amadare, rosemary and wasabe. Even the lamb shy at our table remarked the flavor was perfectly inviting, no traces of gaminess at all.
Hot Side: Age Shishito peppers with parmesan and bonito flakes. We love spice so we were comfortable with the super hot peppers that took us by surprise, but beware if you can't handle heat.
Sushi & Sashimi: Chef's Omakase Sushi and Sashimi. We have no idea what the chef opted to give us in either sushi or sashimi. We briefly acknowledged that fact after the server left the plate on our table in a conversation that went something like this: "I want, that, that, that, and that." "What is that?" "I don't know, but it looks like seaweed." By the time our server returned, we had eaten it all.
Dessert: Trio of cherry blossom macarons, green tea mochi and dark chocolate truffles. And we quote, "the red thing (cherry blossom macaron) was the best."
Dashi proved itself to be more than just a pretty face. That is, a shining beacon of luxurious yet worthwhile eats in a neighborhood known for generally providing an overpriced, flashy experience. Nevertheless, we're still talking fine-dining here folks. In our little black book of Miami restaurants, this falls under the "Special Occassions" category. Our friend put it best: "If I want to take my sweetheart to a special birthday dinner, this is where I would take her."