Discerning diners are always looking for that extra touch of magic, especially in Miami’s vibrant and diverse culinary scene. That’s what brought me to Jaya restaurant, known for its exquisite pan-Asian cuisine with influences from Thailand, Korea, India, China and Japan, executed with a modern Miami twist. Jaya is inside the 5-star luxury Setai hotel in South Beach. Inside the sleek dark hued hotel lobby, the restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating is visible through floor-to-ceiling glass doors directly ahead. Jaya is impressive – a grand open-air courtyard with a retractable roof and a stone-filled pool stretching from the north to the south end of the courtyard. The symmetrically lined wood columns along the pool evoke an Eastern Zen spirit that seamlessly blends with the palm trees, plush cushions and dining tables surrounding the edge. Our table on the south edge of the pool facing the water glistened underneath the Miami stars.
Hailed from India, Executive Chef Vijay Veena offers a refined seasonal menu that celebrates Southeast and Northern Asian cultures and their regional specialties– from sumptuous Peking duck and steam pancakes, Wagyu tataki with shave truffles, to sea bass tikka with tamarind chutney and chicken Panang curry. The friendly server in a black uniform brings warm hand towels and recommends popular dishes. Expect impeccable Asian flavors, textures and plates designed for sharing with friends. While the Thai seafood salad is tempting, I enjoyed a perfect Thai tom yum goong soup and some bite-size tuna tacos in taro shell to start, which are fresh with a zest of jalapeno relish, avocado and sesame. For the main course, I cannot resist the melt-in-your mouth miso black cod with squash truffle broth. My friend favors the salmon in a honey orange glaze. We shared two of the four superb dim sum offerings (scallop and shrimp with truffle shavings, and short rib gyoza). For dessert, we indulged in the fresh strawberries with soft-as-air crème. The cocktails, too, are outstanding. Try the Passion Chili martini or other delicious creations on the drinks menu.
The name Jaya which means ‘victory’ in Sanskrit, was chosen to honor Setai hotel’s award-winning designer Jaya Ibrahim, who created the eponymous Miami Beach restaurant we were enjoying– which is among his renowned masterpieces. As the evening unfolds, be ready to be entertained by aerial acrobats, contortionists and fire dancers who move from table-to-table to the delight of everyone holding out their phones to capture the moments. After 10 pm the mood transforms to a club vibe with live DJ music and colorful lights. Several couples in a large group to our right danced and swayed to the vibrant music as laughter echoed in the air. Embraced in the magnificent Jaya courtyard under the twinkling night skies, our visit to Jaya was truly magical. Good news is there is more to explore next time: Jaya’s famous Sunday Jazz Brunch from 11:30 am to 3 pm, featuring breakfast classics and international flavors that includes rotisserie, seafood, Asian dishes and dessert stations with free-flowing Roederer Champagne.
Asian night Bazaar Dinner with fire dancer, contortionist and DJ music is from Thursday to Saturday 6 pm to 11 pm.
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