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TUYO, on the rooftop of Miami Culinary Institute,
 Miami Dade College, 415 N.E. Second Ave., Downtown Miami.
www.tuyomiami.com 305-237-3200

At Tuyo, modern urban chic meets vintage Norman Van Aken cuisine

b normanc caviar amuse cevicheceviche
conch spd foie gras toaste fishf pork   

g veal

h dessert

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By Simone Zarmati Diament

 The world below zooms by at a fast pace from the brand new TUYO Restaurant on the 8th floor rooftop of the state-of-the-art Miami Culinary Institute. The view is breathtaking from every seat in the house. You can see the AAA Arena with its giant screen flickering images in the night, the Liberty Tower glowing in holiday colors, the funky Adrienne Arsht building for the Performing Arts, the squat Miami Herald building, the glittering waters of the Port of Miami where huge cruise boats light up the night as they glide by, the streets of Downtown Miami with incandescent trails of red tailgates opposite streams of bright headlights, all crisscrossed by the metro mover,  and, hanging in mid-air, the Miami skyline doing a luminous peek-a-boo dance.

Judging by the busy valet parking on the restaurant’s sidewalk, the recent opening of TUYO, with Norman Van Aken as its executive chef, has awakened Downtown Miami from long years of slumber. This is one of the hottest, most romantic new spots in town.  (Click here and listen to an interview with chef Norman Van Aken on TUYO)

Once you step out of the sleek elevator, past the hostess desk, and into the restaurant, the hypnotizing view is outweighed by the sleek lines of the modern décor and the urban atmosphere.  Inside, a roaring fireplace and a grand baby piano make a splash in the cozy off white, steel and warm wood symphony of textures to the sounds of soft jazz.

At Tuyo, modern urban chic meets vintage Norman’s cuisine.

Executive chef Norman Van Aken and his team: chef de cuisine Jeffrey Brana,  sous-chef Travis Starwalt  (formerly of Brana Restaurant and Sugarcane, respectively), and Pastry Chef Max Santiago (who left STK to join TUYO), apply a farm-to-table philosophy to an essentially Floridian menu which brings back many of the favorite dishes that made Norman’s in Coral Gables the epicenter of fine dining in Miami. “The philosophy behind the restaurant is exploring what Florida tastes like; with its bounty of Peruvian, Latin American, Caribbean and Asian influences,” says chef  Van Aken.

The menu is divided into a seasonal Voyager prix fixe menu and an à la carte dinner menu with first plates such as Gulf shrimp ceviche with “salsa of life” ($9), Brazilian creamy conch chowder spiked with saffron and star anise ($9); Cobia tiradito with hearts of palm, papaya and a soy-ginger-passion fruit dressing ($18); Curried lamb Colombo  stuffed empanadas ($10) with pickled watermelon rind and cucumber raita;  and local lettuces, tomato and avocado salad with beets, pepitas, blue cheese and sherry vinaigrette ($9).

Mains ($24 - $42) list pan cooked fillet of Key West yellowtail with citrus butter,  garlicky mashed potatoes and Malabar spinach; Spice Route black grouper “sous vide” with Benton’s ham, mustard greens and avocado; Paella de tierra —meat-free — with chanterelles, garbanzos, green olives and radicchio; chicken ‘Mofongo’ with fufú; black beans and Redlands chutney;  Mongolian marinated veal chop with Chinese eggplant and Thai fried rice as well as Niman Ranch beef tenderloin and braised oxtails with layered potato torta and braised cippolini onions.

Voyager Menu ($95 + 60 for wine flight)

We began the voyage, with the help of an attentive and well-trained staff, with an amuse of caviar and heart of palm dramatically set on a black dish and freshly baked house-made ciabatta we dipped in a fragrant Greek olive oil.

Dishes followed, wisely paired by sommelier Sarah Brownell with a wine from the unusually varied wine list. Sarah’s passion for wines shows in her reasonably-priced selection of boutiques wineries from around the world.

The silky richness of the Brazilian creamy cracked conch chowder was a table-pleaser with whiffs of coconut, golden saffron color and, yes, very creamy texture tempered with pronounced acidity and tender strips of conch. The curaçao-scented foie gras set on sweet French toast drizzled with savory passion fruit caramel undeniably bears Norman’s signature.  A kind of all-round sweet ‘call of the wild’ that is bound to draw in the hungry and the nostalgic for another time and place.

Key West Yellowtail, moist and tasty, nursed a ‘belly’ of mashed potatoes with a counterpoint of fresh Malabar spinach leaves. The meats were another classic: Pork Havana with smokey plantain crema, and intriguing mole and a Spanish sherry reduction; and the grilled Mongolian marinated veal chop  topped by crispy fried Chinese eggplant with a side of Thai fried rice.

k dessertDesserts -- on both the Voyager and à la carte menus -- stay on the edge of  the traditional line with brûlée pumpkin cheese cake and strips of marshmallow; a dish of chocolaty confections, from chocolate toast to mousse to cake and pudding; and delectable fried “churros” or doughnuts stuffed with dulce de leche with a chocolate dip.

Tuyo is the kind of place where you’ll want to eat the entire menu, so pace yourself and plan to return.

Miami diners will fall in love with the rooftop space just like chef Norman Van Aken did when President of Miami Dade College Eduardo Padron and John Richards, Director of the Miami Culinary Institute, invited him to join the project.


 

a view
TUYO, at the rooftop of Miami Culinary Institute,
Miami Dade College, 415 N.E. Second Ave., Downtown Miami.
www.tuyomiami.com 305-237-3200

Open:  for dinner  Wednesdays through  Saturdays   6 - 10:30 p.m.   Valet Parking available.