YUVIA LLUVIA JUVIA
I’ve been told I make things awkward. Truth be told I thrive on awkwardness, and so when I got invited out on a second date with someone whom my first date with was the epitome of awkward I immediately thought this ought to be good.
I even planned on recording my date with a nice little incognito USB recorder I bought. We’ll call this research for my book, and personal life of course. My plan didn’t work because the restaurant although nine floors above ground level and with Miami Beach as its backdrop was just as loud as any New York City restaurant. In fact, I kind of felt like I was in New York City as I entered the private psychedelic looking elevator that was barely big enough for my date and I, not to mention the group of French who rode up to Juvia with us.
Doors open and you’re greeted by a 22 feet plant wall and three very different looking hostesses who just so happen to speak French, cause doesn’t everyone in Miami, and looked so incredibly happy to see some of her fellow Parisians. A walk through the outside area first with totally open seating looking out onto Miami Beach makes you wonder how nobody thought of opening something here sooner. I was wishing our table would be here, but it wasn’t. This outside area leads to an inside that’s equally as open with glass windows all around and because they realize they took the everything you wanted away from you by putting you in here the creators of this place give you something worth looking to inside just as good: an open kitchen.
The living plant wall stretches through the entire restaurant and limestone tabletops and hand-woven chairs to give you the feel that although you are nowhere near sea level or below sea level as we are in Miami you are definitely at the beach. If this isn’t enough the servers are in khakis and white button downs with just the same amount of buttons open as my date. Miami is all around you.
Dates are always awkward especially when you’re 24 and going out with someone significantly older than you, but how much more awkward can it get after you coincidentally bump into his ex-wife on your first date? This is how I found out he was previously married. For me the most awkward part is always that initial moment when you get sat and handed your menus. You don’t know what to do. Do you read the menu but you’re not really reading cause you’re thinking you should be talking. Do you let him order because he’s older and he should be in control or do you want to show that you have a mind of your own and selective about what you put in your mouth?
Juvia’s menu is long and heavy and offers everything on one page just how I like it. No need to flip back and forth pretending to be reading. It’s much easier to just pretend you’re staring blank at this testament looking menu wondering what the fuck do I do next? My indecisive nature let him take charge not only because I can’t decide what I want since I want it all but because I want to see what he’s made of. Chivas on the rocks with sprite. So far so good. I got some sort of fruity whiskey drink with ginger and mint. It worked just as well.
The menu is exactly what you would expect from the people behind this: the Boulud and Nobu family. A blend of Asia executed with classic French techniques infused with Peruvian flavors and Japanese textures.
Kumamoto oysters. He would order an aphrodisiac. Clever. Any guy that eats oysters likes it raw and is by definition fully exposing himself like a sore or a wound. These were on a bed of seaweed and had some beautiful crisps on top for a crunch after the slime of the oyster.
A rock shrimp tiradito with aji amarillo alioli, red onion, and cilantro not to mention sweet potato. Appetizers are encouraged to be eaten with chopsticks as the the Japanese use for family style dining. The purpose of this is so that you eat with one end and flip them when you are going to pick at the plate at the center of the table. I’m dirty so I choose to just stick to one end of the stick.
As my entrée I chose the sea scallops plancha with maitake, shiitake mushrooms, garlic chips and what I think was bok choy. The garlic chips added the perfect balance to the softness of the scallop that was dripping of sea flavor and the buttery and garlic taste of the slimy shiitake.
He ordered the veal chop with lemon confit, parsnip puree, and dried fruit sauce. Since I have to have it all he cut me a giant piece of the chop for me to try. I couldn’t help but feel like I was being tested to see just what I could fit in my mouth and upon calling him out on it happened the best moment of the night: he choked on his piece of meat. While I had no problem with the veal he seemed to be having some difficulty with his steak knife. I cut his same meat with my regular wimpy knife. This is good though. It ensures that he doesn’t know how to use a knife and I don’t have to be scared of him killing me after I write this.
The only sad part of the night was when the desert came, which I found to be a bit bitter nothing like my date or the overall feel of the night. An apple tarte with some sort of ice cream. I had trouble even cutting it and sent a piece flying elsewhere. To think I almost got away with being smooth the entire meal.
As we walked out I wondered all the men who bring women here to woo them and use Juvia as a stepping stone for their “move.” Why wouldn’t you? It sets it up perfectly. Miami at your fingertips, drinks that do the job, and food that screams at you to be eaten. We exited in the same elevator, which was way more psychedelic now after I ate shiitake mushrooms and was drunk. This was the perfect moment I thought, and what broke my chain of thought was the moment itself. A kiss. Oh. This guy is good.
But Juvia, or Yuvia as he called it is better.
Juvia. A place to seduce and be seduced, by the company, the environment, and the food.