Jia, a modern Chinese-American dinner club with a private lounge, has opened in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood.
The restaurant is a collaboration between Ken Ray and Jason Cloth. For the past several years, Ray has focused on the food tech sector, launching À la Carte Delivery, which markets more than a dozen Miami ghost kitchens. Cloth is director of Bron Media Corp. and founder/managing partner of film-financing company Creative Wealth Media, based in Toronto.
Ray says he was interested in developing an upscale Chinese concept for quite some before deciding on the space in South of Fifth.
“I immediately knew that it was the perfect location,” said Ray. “First Street has become a culinary destination with powerhouse brands like Carbone, Estiatorio Milos, Papi Steak, and the Prime restaurants — all with some of the most successful groups in the country behind them. Good Chinese food is an extremely under-represented category in Miami, upholding a consistent gap in the market. With the massive influx of New Yorkers and West Coasters coming into the neighborhood, the timing for Jia is now.”
To raise the bar for modern Chinese cuisine standards in South Florida, Ray chose Weng Choon “William” Lai to helm the Jia kitchen as executive chef.
Lai brings notable expertise in modern Cantonese cuisine, having held lead roles in multiple prestigious restaurants in Beijing, Thailand, Cambodia, and Macau, including the Michelin Guide-listed Pak Loh Chiu Chow restaurant in Macau.
“Lai’s cooking style is authentic yet elevated and places a great emphasis on bringing out the flavors of each particular ingredient that’s incorporated into each dish,” Ray says. “I want to offer guests an experience that not only highlights a fun and high-energy ambiance, but — even more importantly — exquisite, noteworthy, and deliciously authentic dishes.”
Jia serves authentic Cantonese-style dishes given a contemporary spin. Signature menu items include crispy cube tofu, black truffle sticky rice, Peking duck, and the chef’s take on char siu, a honey-roasted pork dish representative of authentic Chinese barbecue, here made with white wine in place of the traditional rice wine.
A late-night menu features a selection of handmade dim sum, as well as a variety of other items such as crispy honey garlic chicken wings and edamame pan-fried dumplings.
Jia’s cocktail list is in the capable hands of Michael Parish, whose résumé includes Miami favorites Broken Shaker and Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co. One of the menu’s headliner cocktails is the delicately crafted “Jungle Bird,” a combination of baijiu, mezcal, grilled pineapple, fresh lime juice, and a house-made strawberry-infused aperitivo. Jia will also offer tableside cocktail service and an extensive Champagne pairing, available by the glass or bottle.
A private dining lounge located at the back of the restaurant seats up to 25 guests and provides a space for exclusive dinner parties and elevated entertainment scheduling, including a karaoke night, which will roll out as one of the venue’s weekly evening programs. A live-music component will also play a fundamental role in catering to Jia’s overall dinner club element, adds Ray, with nightly music activations and programming prepared by Los Angeles-based artist advisor Hayes Bradley.
Jia. 808 First St., Miami Beach; 786-206-1063; jiamiami.com. Open Monday through Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Late-night dim sum menu available Thursday through Saturday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.