Harmony in Flavor: Alvaro Perez Miranda’s Culinary Journey as Goodwill Ambassador of Japanese Cuisine

9 mins read

In the vibrant streets of Miami, we had the privilege of sitting down with the multifaceted Alvaro Perez Miranda right before his departure to Japan to delve into the intricate tapestry of food, art, and the captivating essence of Japanese culture. Alvaro Perez Miranda has recently been awarded the prestigious title of Goodwill Ambassador of Japanese Cuisine. With less than 200 people holding this title worldwide, known for its sheer difficulty to be attainted, Alvaro Perez Miranda stands as a beacon of Japanese culture, breaking barriers as the first Latino in the United States to receive this honor. Reflecting on his experiences, the restaurateur mentions how it couldn’t have been achieved without his experience living in Japan, his love and respect for the culture, and perhaps even more so—his love for art and attention to detail. 

Alvaro Perez Miranda, an art dealer and prominent Miami restaurateur, infuses his every endeavor with artistic aptitude. In 1989, he became a pivotal member of internationally acclaimed Joseph Suceveanu’s team, overseeing the Japanese launch of Il Forno Trattoria, which led him to reside in Tokyo for a further 15 years promoting Italian cuisine. During this time, he developed a profound appreciation for Japanese culture, which now serves as the guiding force behind all his ventures.

Breaking Barriers: Alvaro Perez Miranda’s Prestigious Title as Goodwill Ambassador of Japanese Cuisine

Alvaro Perez Miranda

As we lament on the enormous responsibilities of the role of Goodwill Ambassador of Japanese Cuisine, Alvaro Perez Miranda mentions that it is first and foremost the responsibility towards the self. The role is a mighty feat to execute for anyone who adores Japanese cuisine — it requires an unwavering dedication to maintain the quality of Japanese cuisine and promote the culture. “To hold this title means to be committed to promoting the food and the culture,” says the restaurateur. His relentless pursuit of authenticity is reflected in the rare ingredients he imports, each shipment a testament to his dedication to showcasing the best of Japanese cuisine.

“I feel grateful that the Japanese government can recognize the job that I’m doing. Not only gastronomy but also Japanese art, food, the service style… the spirit.”

Behind the Scenes at Ogawa

Alvaro Perez Miranda at Ogawa

Our tête-à-tête unfurls amidst the ethereal ambiance of Ogawa, a gastronomical temple where at 4 p.m., an orchestra of maestros scrambles to complete their tasks by the commencement of the 6 p.m. dinner service. While the omakase restaurant serves no more than 24 guests daily, the entire day until dinner is spent preparing every single detail that may be anticipated.

“Japanese culture is about quality. I don’t just want to serve Japanese food; I want it to be a cultural experience.”

As we chat, Master Chef Masayuki Komatsu leads the team to prepare seasonal seafood that has just been flown in from Japan—“hotaru ika (firefly squid) is in season now in Japan,” says one of the chefs as he masterfully and meticulously cleans each individual little squid.

Meanwhile, we can see Akiko Iwata, the restaurant’s ikebana artist, weaving delicate arrangements that mirror the fleeting beauty of each dish. Not a single detail is overlooked as the team masterfully dances, each fulfilling their unique role in this beautiful symphony of cultural appreciation. Every detail, from seasonal seafood to graceful flower arrangements, reflects Alvaro Perez Miranda’s firm commitment to perfection.

“Our restaurants are all about showing craftsmanship. Japan is about craftsmanship,” Alvaro Perez Miranda reaffirms. 

Indeed, everything at Ogawa speaks weight to the statement. In the intimate dining space, incredible nihonga paintings adorn the backdrop, all painted by one of Alvaro Perez Miranda’s favorite artists—Ryota Unno. Japanese pottery by Shinobu Habauchi lines the shelves behind the chefs hard at work, and a beautiful kakejiku (hanging scroll) greets every diner entering the refined establishment.

Sourcing Excellence: The Quest for Authenticity


When asked about the challenges the restaurateur faces when sourcing top-quality ingredients from Japan, the restaurateur ponders and says, “I’ve already done the work required to build close personal relationships with Japanese suppliers of precious ingredients. Now the challenge lies in doing them justice.” Ogawa receives fresh shipments of seafood flown in every single day from Japan. He adds, “Sometimes we can’t anticipate flight delays, but the ingredients must be ready by 6 p.m. Taking the time to skillfully prepare the fish before dinner service can be a challenge.” 

At Ogawa, diners have the opportunity to taste ingredients no other restaurant in the United States has. Hitachi wagyu from Ibaraki prefecture, aotobi nori from the Ariake sea, baby anchovies, and seasonal translucent baby eels are only some of the rare ingredients you’ll be able to savor during the omakase experience. Alvaro Perez Miranda is also the ambassador for Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture—“I have spent over six years developing these reliable relationships in Japan, and I have a commitment to serve the best quality produce, no compromise,” says Alvaro Perez Miranda. 


From the exquisite craftsmanship displayed in every dish to the zen philosophy that underpins the dining experience, Alvaro Perez Miranda invites diners on a journey of sensory delight and cultural immersion. Omotenashi, hospitality; komakai, attention to detail; sensai, the delicate balance between flavors. These are the three pillars that hold all of the restaurateur’s ventures.

“In Zen philosophy, the most important part of the meal is how the food makes you feel. We’ve had people cry while eating our food.”

We continue to muse on the quintessential concept of omotenashi, which involves always anticipating the customers’ needs and avoiding them asking first. Whether that be noticing that a customer is chilly and lowering the AC, sliding the bathroom door before they approach it, or refilling their drink. This persistent fervor for hospitality in the true Japanese spirit is what elevates Alvaro Perez Miranda’s restaurants, with diners leaving satisfied in unalloyed anticipation of their next visit. 

For those unable to traverse the Pacific, Alvaro Perez Miranda’s establishments offer a portal to the soul of Japan. Whether it be Wabi Sabi or Midorie for a fast-casual donburi or affordable omakase, the high-end Hiyakawa for incredible Edomae-style dining and an art show all at once, or Ogawa for an unforgettable omakase comparable only to the top sushi bars of Japan.

Alvaro Perez Miranda is keeping us in anticipation of his next project with but a few hints: it will be a bit more accessible and won’t involve sushi. With quality still being on the pedestal, the new restaurant will offer diners a fresh perspective on Japanese food. Alvaro Perez Miranda will persist in advocating for Japanese cuisine and food culture in the United States during his ambassadorship, and we will be following closely. 

Angelina Kurganska

Angelina Kurganska is a traveling food and tea writer. She spent years as a professional cook in North America, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. Angelina is particularly enthralled by the subtle world of Japanese cuisine and enjoys making pottery in her free time.

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