May 17, 2022


Foodies welcome

Discover Japanese soul food and a secret cocktail den at this new Wynwood restaurant

A small fire is getting ready to blaze in Wynwood. Are you ready for the heat — and a hidden cocktail den?

The new restaurant Buya Izakaya + Yakitori — “buya” means “small fire” — plans to introduce Miami to Japanese pub food. Call it Japanese soul food, if you like.

The team behind the restaurant, founded by Michael Sponaugle, includes Michael Lewis and Steven Haigh, owners of the ever-popular KYU in Wynwood.

“Izakayas, or sit-down sake shops, are casual spaces where the Japanese imbibe after work similar to Irish pubs, tapas bars or historic taverns, and I value the humility behind them,” Sponaugle explains in a press release. “We are honoring the authentic flavor profiles and ingredients behind the simplistic izakaya concept by offering a culinary crash course that cultivates an appreciation of Japanese street food.”

Here’s what you’ll find on the menu: items like yakitori and wagyu kushiyaki grilled over binchotan charcoal. There’s also a duck dumpling hotpot and Tokyo street corn. Want to watch how the magic gets made? Buya’s exhibition kitchen will offer diners a view.

Can you feel the Buya vibe? When it opens in July, the restaurant will separate tables to comply with COVID-19 rules.

This being Wynwood, there’s also a curated cocktail program, featuring 30 different kinds of Japanese whisky. Even better: there’s a secret cocktail den hidden inside the restaurant called the Golden Gai, named for the nightlife magnet of more than 200 micro-bars tucked along the dark and narrow alleyways of a district in Shinjuku, Japan.

The entrance is cloaked entrance. Inside, look up to see hundreds of chopsticks suspended over the bar stools. And know this, whisky lovers: there are a few bottles of rare Japanese whisky in the Golden Gai, but you’ll need a skeleton key for access.

No, we don’t know how you get special enough to access to the skeleton key. You’ll just have to solve that mystery yourself. Happy exploring.

Buya Izakaya + Yakitori in Wynwood opens in July 2020.
Buya Izakaya + Yakitori in Wynwood opens in July 2020.

Buya Izakaya + Yakitori

Where: 250 NW 24th St., Miami

Opens: Early July

Hours: Noon-11 p.m. on weekdays; late night on the weekends