Bento Box Delights At Kevin Cory's N By Naoe | Tasting Table MIA

Naoe's Kevin Cory strikes again

You've never had a boxed meal quite like this.

N by Naoe is the new addition to Naoe in Brickell Key, where chef Kevin Cory has been serving the best sushi in the city. At N, only 16 lucky diners gather around one large wooden communal table to enjoy a bento box of Cory's choosing ($80 per person)—but this isn't the grab-and-go bento experience you're used to.

In the high-ceilinged room, the windows have been purposely covered so that you won't be distracted, but enough light seeps in to give the room a somewhat ethereal, temple-like feel. Once you're seated, Wendy Maharlika, the restaurant's co-owner and manager and longtime friend of chef Cory, dances around the table with swift precision, and her friendly conversation helps you forget the outside world entirely.

Warm towels are served as Maharlika runs through the sake menu, which includes six selections from Nakamura Brewery, owned by the chef's family. We opt for a drier Kaga Setsubai Junmai ($48).

Then we're each served our beautifully crafted three-tiered pine wood bento boxes alongside bowls of bamboo sticky rice, leek and daikon miso soup and pickles (eggplant and kombu). Each tray is divided into two compartments (warm and cold), with delicate ceramic plates inside—no two are alike.

Each of the six carefully crafted dishes inside is made with locally sourced fruits and vegetables—like the spongy yuca tofu with Hokkaido uni, as well as the avocado and pea tendrils in the poached Maine lobster side salad.

The Chef's Ending dessert with matcha tea syrup [Photo: Sid Hoeltzell]

The fish is also impeccably fresh, imported from Japan overnight, and served in surprisingly playful preparations: The aori ika (big fin squid) in the sashimi plate is chewy in a good way, and the komochi konbu (herring roe scraped from seaweed leaves) pops in your mouth like salty Pop Rocks.

Enjoy each bite of these small servings—they're gone too soon. This is the case with the pork jowl, simmered for 35 hours in sake and miso, and served with roasted white asparagus, Japanese sweet potato and sugar snaps. The minute we take a bite of the melt-in-your-mouth meat draped in creamy parsnip mustard, we immediately want more.

And definitely take the time to enjoy the Kaga No Yukizake "Snow of Kaga" sake ($17 for 180 milliliters) served frozen. Icicles of the rice wine are served in bowls with wooden spoons; it tastes like falling snow, with light cherry blossom notes.

It's a gorgeous way to end a stunning meal.