While plenty of other young chefs were still burning pots and pans and dreaming of their first shot at celebrity status, Flávio Miyamura, aged just 22, had already worked at top Japanese eatery Shin Zushi and Alex Atala’s internationally acclaimed D.O.M. before quietly assuming the risky role of executive chef at Eñe – one of the city’s best contemporary restaurants.
Six years on and Miyamura has taken a big step towards making his star rise still further with the opening of his own restaurant, Miya, in a two-storey house in Pinheiros. The small eatery has an unassuming charm. Large, close-up food photographs hang on exposed brick walls. On the ground floor, a long, brown leather banquette provides comfy seating along one wall, while upstairs, an intimate cluster of tables leads through to the waiting area-cum-bar, set out on an open-air terrace.
As for the food, the menu is compact and eclectic, drawing inspiration from throughout Miyamura’s career. On your first visit, don’t miss the foie gras terrine starter (R$42) artfully drizzled with sweet doce de leite caramel – the consistency and contrasting flavours in perfect equilibrium. Other star starters include the perfectly crispy squid tempura and the intensely flavoured ovo perfeito (perfect egg) with a vegetable broth, bacon and fresh edamame soybeans (R$18).
For mains, we tasted and loved the pork with miso and Japanese chard with a sesame sauce (R$38). Rice dishes – creamy rice with duck, and a dark beer risotto with caramelised onions – are delicately sized, and served on striking, curved-rim plates. The desserts didn’t reach the calibre of the mains, though the honey ice cream with honeycomb and partially matured ‘meia cura’ cheese (R$16) scored high for its well-balanced combination.
The name Miya, besides being an obvious abbreviation of the chef’s surname, also means time in Japanese – a hint that ‘the time of anonymity’ of the talented young chef is definitely long gone. Let the spotlight shine.