NaiYaRa: Sunset Harbour Gets a Taste of Thai Street Food

To say that we’ve been eagerly awaiting NaiYaRa’s opening would be an understatement. When we first saw the sign for the restaurant pop up over a year ago, we were excited. And after a delicious preview tasting at Chef Bee’s other restaurant Oishi Thai, we got even more antsy. Well, two years later, it’s finally here. Was it worth the wait? Yes, yes and yes.

Here at NaiYaRa, which is located at Sunset Harbor,  there’s an emphasis on Thai food but it’s not the only type of cuisine you’ll find on the menu. Raw items, sashimi and sushi all make an appearance among the offerings, so diners can expect a delicious adventure through Asian flavors when they visit. And it’s an adventure that doesn’t let up for one second.

Our meal started with a bread service so addicting that it should be illegal: shrimp chips with truffle oil. Colorful, crunchy, unique and oh so tasty, these puffy shrimp bites set a high bar for the ensuing meal. Fortunately, everything we ordered was up to the challenge. Thai street dumplings kept the momentum going with some delicious chicken and a side of Thai chilies to spice them up to your stomach’s content.

Whatever you do, do not miss out on the crab fried rice. First of all, it’s A LOT of rice; we cannot emphasize A LOT enough. The rice is so light and fluffy and comes with a fish chili sauce (a first for us). We suggest you be conservative with the sauce as a little goes a long way in terms of spice (we learned the hard way).

Of course, there was no way we would skip over the restaurant’s namesake sushi roll, which is absolutely stunning — both in presentation and taste. Seriously, our first reaction was “Holy Fuck, that’s good!” The salmon belly is soooooooooooooo tender. It’s a dish that’s creamy, fragrant and light — and a must-order. Oh yeah, one word of advice: each piece is a mouthful, so our suggestion would be to take smaller bites.

If the NaiYaRa roll was a home run, the red curry duck was a grand slam — moist, tender duck with curry and hidden bits of pineapple to balance the spice. Guys, it was so good. We would eat the curry on its own (and we did — yay for leftovers). This curry dish got us curious about the other curry offerings, but alas we could only squeeze in dessert for this round. Oh well, all the more reason to come back.

Before we get to the desserts, let’s talk about the cocktails. There’s one word that describes the cocktail menu perfectly: refreshing. All of the drinks we tried — and there were a few — all had an herbal/healthy feel to them. But unlike healthy stuff, these drinks actually tasted great. Try the ones with gin; that’s some good good right there.

So back to desserts. We had two options: Thai donuts with banana sauce and a layered sweet with shaved guava gelato with coconut mousse, brown sugar cake and banana. The latter won our vote. While we love donuts and these were damn good, there’s just something about the uniqueness of the layered dessert. It’s just layer upon layer of texture and flavor. If Chef Bee opens another restaurant after this one, it should focus on desserts.

Like we mentioned earlier, we’ve eagerly awaited NaiYaRa’s opening, and we’re happy to say that the wait was worth it. The ample portions, the flavorful dishes, the refreshing (and stiff) drinks … the restaurant is already on the path to becoming a successful addition to Sunset Harbor. Make sure you come along for the ride.

Naiyara is located at 1854 Bay Road, on Miami Beach. For hours of operation and other information, visit their official website or call 786-275-6005.