Continuing Miami's Asian cuisine explosion, celebrated local chef Piyarat Arreeratn (known as Chef Bee) recently opened NaiYaRa in South Beach. The restaurant is already the newest place to see and be seen.
NaiYaRa is offering traditional and contemporary Thai and Japanese fare in the trendy Sunset Harbour neighborhood of Miami Beach. The menu – which was conceptualized by chef Bee and his mother - was generated from Bee's most well-received dishes at his much-loved Oishi Thai restaurant in North Miami.
“I’m excited and honored to work with my mother on NaiYaRa to bring some of my favorite childhood dishes from Thailand to the Sunset Harbour neighborhood,” Chef Bee told us. “It’s been such a delight working with her to develop a concept that traces back to my Thai roots.”
Those roots include dishes that Bee's grandmother actually sold at their local village market in Thailand like Tom Yum Nahm Khon, also known as Creamy Ramen Noodle Soup with Prawns. Other menu standouts include the salmon taco with spicy mayonnaise, avocado, and truffle oil; the Thai street dumplings with fried chicken, celery, oyster sauce, and Thai chili; the red curry with crispy duck, bell peppers, pineapple, coconut milk, and jasmine rice; and the crispy bok choy. As to how he approached his conception, Chef Bee says, "I wanted to highlight authentic Thai ingredients like prawns, octopus, squid, our traditional tamarind sauce (Nahm Jiim Jeaw) and seafood dipping sauce (Nahm Jiim Talaey)."
The cocktails at NaiYaRa also transport one's taste buds across the orient. Anthony “Tibor” Vecsesi, known for his inventive ideas and use of fresh ingredients, created signature drinks like the Mekhong OX and Tom Kha– each made with traditional Thai ingredients such as bird chili, lemongrass and galangal. The Mekhong Mule with Absolut elyx, lemongrass, ginger, and mio sparkling sake is already a local favorite.
The restaurant decor – inspired by Bangkok's street food scene, creates an energetic vibe felt throughout the space. Design firm Oberhausen created a retro-contemporary space in the open dining room which features tufted red leather banquettes, tables made from reclaimed Indonesian teak wood, and repurposed traditional fishing baskets from Thailand. The walls are adorned with custom artwork by local muralist Daniel Fila (aka Krave) and include a vinyl album cover montage, an elephant mural at the sushi bar, and an art installation featuring The King of Thailand.
Born and raised in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, Chef Bee moved to the United States over 20 years ago and worked his way up to the position of sushi chef at famed chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s Nobu restaurant. He opened Oishi Thai in 2005, which is still a major draw to locals "in the know."
He says of NaiYaRa's instantaneous success, "We knew people were eagerly awaiting the opening and they have been packing the restaurant nightly! It's wonderful to see such a great turn out from locals and visitors, with lots of return guests."