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Spring Secrets

Dine, Miami

Erik Menedez, the innovative chef behind Paul Qui’s El Secreto Omakase, Faena’s six-seat speakeasy dining experience, shares his secrets of the season.


“Spring is my favorite because there is an abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables that will find their way onto the menu,” he explains. “One thing we do in-house every spring is pickle young ginger from Fuji, Japan. Ginger is a springtime vegetable, so we pickle enough to last all year.”

What are some other spring ingredients diners will find on the menu?

In spring, we get a lot of exotic fruits like white strawberries, pineapples, and cuca melons (also known as mouse melons or mini cucumbers). Plus, ramps, which are spring onions (often referred to as wild leeks). The springtime also brings the prized morels, making them my personal favorite among the wild mushrooms in season.

What are some of El Secreto’s crowd favorites?

That would have to be the Ora King Salmon Toro, which is the belly portion of the fish. We torch it, then brush with an aged tamari soy sauce and top with a fermented chili crisp. Another fan favorite is our house-made ceviche with Japanese purple sweet potato and crunchy apple pumpkin seeds. We also get a lot of compliments on our sous vide king crab flavored with smoked brown butter and fresh yuzu juice.

Where are you finding inspiration this season?

I get a lot of inspiration from books. Some new releases in my arsenal are ‘Fish Butchery’ by Josh Niland, an Australian chef, and Noma had two books come out this year: ‘Noma 2.0’ and ‘Noma in Kyoto’. Noma is one of the best restaurants in the world and only works with very seasonal ingredients, so I use those books quite often as a reference. Another book I look to frequently is ‘The Flavor Bible’. It has great suggestions for flavor combinations.

Are you seeing any new trends in omakase?

Amid a surge of new omakase restaurants, many of which import their fish from Japan and specialize in nigiri, El Secreto distinguishes itself through a unique approach. We step away from the usual omakase style, leaning more towards kaiseki cuisine—a Japanese culinary tradition that celebrates seasonal ingredients and thoughtfully composed dishes, both raw and cooked. Instead of a standard 15 to 16 courses of raw fish over rice, our menu showcases a broader range of elaborate and more creative dishes.