Sunday, May 19, 2024

Review: Kaori by Walter Martino

If ever there were Seven Wonders of the Culinary World, the seven courses of the Journey of the Senses Explorer tasting menu at Kaori by Walter Martino (1250 S. Miami Ave., Miami, 786/805-6006) would comprise the whole list. Each course was more extravagant than the next—featuring Italian and Japanese elements in the most innovative combinations, all presented like works of art.

Kaori offers a 360-degree cinematography dining experience—complete with scenes of butterflies fluttering from one wall to the next, amongst other visually stimulating animations.

But seriously, back to the food. The masterful concoctions owe their origins to Chef Walter Martino, who was formerly a private chef in Ibiza. He earned the title “Million Dollar Chef” after the Prince of Dubai purchased his plate for one million Euros. Now, he’s set up shop in Brickell to transform your average meal into an unforgettably indulgent evening.

The tasting menu started off with sea bass and mango ceviche accompanied by Stracciatella (a creamy Italian cheese). Next came the vegetable tempura, served inside a golden embellished life-sized purse—yes, you read that correctly.

And just when my eyes and my stomach were whisked away into a state of euphoria, then came the sushi tree blooming with elegance and deliciousness. Kaori’s take on sushi rolls swaps rice for lettuce wrapped around either raw tuna or salmon with cucumber and avocado, or two types of Italian meats with Stracciatella and a balsamic drizzle.

Course four offered true Asian and Italian fusion in the form of sushiotto—a collection of seafood and risotto pairings. From shrimp on a bed of saffron risotto to salmon atop Gorgonzola risotto to tuna on black squid risotto, my taste buds were frenzied. And so, entered the palate cleansing lemon Sorbetto with edible gold flakes. It was the epitome of refreshing—and just what I needed before I attempted to tackle courses six and seven.

All of the dishes up until this point had been flavor-packed yet oxymoronically light—until it was pasta time. Served side by side was a trio of raviolis: pear and Gorgonzola with pistachio sauce, lobster stuffed black squid pasta doused in Stracciatella sauce and Osso Buco stuffed traditional pasta with a red sauce.

After the savory overload, it was time for dessert—another trio, of course. Dispersed between a coffee and a vanilla beignet was a slice of chocolate mousse cake that was creamy and rich and the perfect final bite.

The seven-course paradise took my mouth and my mind through a whirlwind of sensations, all washed down with a cucumber and sage cocktail. Needless to say, I’ll be back soon.

Kaori by Walter Martino is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 6 p.m. until midnight.

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