TOTT: Old World & New World Thai Meet At Naiyara

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — He’s known as Chef Bee,  born and raised in Northern Thailand, Bee came to South Florida at age 18 pursuing his passion for food.

He worked as a sushi chef at Nobu eventually opening his popular North Miami restaurant now in business for 11 years, called Oishi Thai.

Bee’s latest venture is Naiyara,  a charming space in the Sunset Harbor area of Miami Beach specializing in Thai street food.  Naiyara was named after Bee’s daughter.

“Naiyara is the elephant. It  is the symbol of my country Thailand. It means honesty, friendly, hardworking  and long life,” Bee said.

The vibe at Naiyara is relaxed and open with elements of Thailand everywhere,  like an interior column decorated with old newspapers. One has a clipping of  Thailand’s  first  Miss Universe as well  as fish basket lanterns.

“The design is 40 years ago. I  want to go back 40 years in Thailand where I grew up,” said Chef Bee.” My daughter was born and raised here I want her to know where her father comes from.”

Bee grew up near the river so fish is a big part of the menu, but not all. In fact, the menu is quite eclectic like his homeland, he says.

“Thailand is like Miami. It’s mixed cultures.  We absorb every culture from around the world that’s why when you ask tourists which Asian country do they love the most, it’s Thailand,” said the chef.

CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo started her tasting with one of Bee’s signature dishes – the  Salmon Demon Slayer. It’s made with salmon, sweet miso, shallots and sake.

“It’s creamy, melt-in-your-mouth smooth, with a  little  kick on top with jalapeno. It’s super fresh, super light and just slides right down,” Petrillo said.

Next up was the Krispy Bok Choy,  a dish Bee’s mother would prepare for him as a snack when he was a small child.

It’s flash deep fried with sweet sesame oil and garlic chips on top.

“It’s totally different and unique and crunchy light. Sometimes bok choy is heavy and oily.This is  super light and air thin,” Petrillo said.

Bee's classic Thai Street Dumplings (Source: CBS4)

Bee’s classic Thai Street Dumplings (Source: CBS4)

For dessert, it was all about Bee’s classic Thai Street Dumplings. These are with chicken, celery, oyster sauce and Thai chili.

“It’s super crunchy on the outside. There’s a kick with sauce and then the chicken is so moist. Tiny little bites of heaven, it is tiny bites of heaven,” Petrillo gushed.

It’s called Naiyara and it’s where old world tastes meet a modern edge most harmoniously.

Naiyara  is open seven days a week for dinner only. Click here for more information.

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