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Posts tagged ‘sashimi’

Restaurant Review: Kabuku

Location: 414 3 St SW (Downtown location)
Website: http://www.kabuku.ca/tabid/10640/Default.aspx

The first time I heard of this restaurant was through work. I had booked several reservations at this location for my lawyer and it appeared to be one of his favourite places to go. Eventually, I did end up eating here, but the first time doing so was with a client. Today, I had the opportunity to return with my sister.

As this place is situated in downtown, the prices reflect as such. However, I strongly believe that the preparation and presentation of the dishes warrants such steep pricing.

We ordered the orange bay scallops, an assorted tempura, tempura avocado, goma-ae, gyu sashimi, tamago sashimi, inari nigiri, a volcano roll, and the sushi/sashimi lunch special. The sushi/sashimi lunch special came with rice, miso soup, and a house salad which was dressed with a ginger vinaigrette and consisted of one piece each of ebi, salmon, and tuna nigiri, one piece of unagi sashimi, two salmon, two Atlantic salmon, two blue fin tuna, and a spicy temaki.

The two salads and soup arrived first. On the surface, they didn’t look like much, but once we dug in, we were pleasantly surprised. The first time I came here I had ordered the goma-ae before and it had not disappointed. This time, it lived up to those standards. As Val mentioned, it was almost as if the spinach had been marinated in the sesame, as the flavour permeated throughout every leaf. It was a little bit on the salty side, but it was bearable. The highlight of the dish was the nuttiness of the sesame; it really came through. The house salad, though ordinary in appearance was quite hearty. The lettuce leaves were sturdy and held the dressing quite well. As it turns out, this ginger vinaigrette dressing was a little saltier than the sesame dressing and made the goma-ae seem significantly less salty. But again, it wasn’t so salty it was unbearable. In fact, I hardly noticed it with the house salad. Perhaps that could be attributed to the acidic element within the dressing. Both salads were served cold, which was a welcome change to the room temperature salads I was accustomed to. Unfortunately, I’ve been having some issues with sensitivity and the cold caused some issues with my teeth which affected my ability to completely enjoy my meal. The first thing I noticed about the soup was the slice of white mushroom floating on the surface. I voiced my observation just as Valerie broke the surface of the soup, dredging up the expected tofu and seaweed from below. However, what we didn’t expect to find were more white mushrooms and enoki mushrooms. I love mushrooms and really appreciated this small touch to make their miso soup unique in comparison to the other sushi restaurants I’ve been to. According to their menu, the miso base is further enhanced by the use of a fish broth to better develop the flavour of the soup.

The soup and salads were followed by the tempuras. I ordered the avocado tempura because I was curious and Val had mentioned trying some at Globefish in Kensington, which she had thoroughly enjoyed. Avocado develops a very different taste and texture after been coated in batter and deep fried. While it didn’t taste bad, I don’t think I’ll be ordering that one again. According to Val, it’s paired with a different sauce at Globefish Kensington, which works better than the warm sweet soy sauce that is often paired with tempura. The assorted tempura was a good size containing two piece of yam tempura, two spears of asparagus (cut in half), two whole white mushrooms, two pieces of broccoli, and three pieces of shrimp. I would have preferred the yam to be a little softer, but other than that, I have no complaints about the dish as a whole. Overall, the batter on the tempura was very well done. The ratio of vegetable/shrimp to batter was well balanced and didn’t leave an excess of oil on my palate.

The next to arrive were the orange bay scallops and volcano roll, inari nigiri, and tamago and gyu sashimi on one plate. The volcano roll was another item I had on my first visit. The spicy sauce is among one of the best I’ve had. It provides just the right amount of heat. Since I don’t typically use soy sauce, I often rely on the sauce(s) that comes with the roll and too often I’m left wanting. This was not the case with this roll. Like the miso soup, Kabuku put a twist on their tamago with the addition of shiitake mushrooms. To be honest, I didn’t know that to expect from a tamago sashimi. I ordered it primarily to avoid eating more rice than was necessary. I think in recent years, I’ve been able to develop both my palate and tolerance when it comes to raw fish and meat and today I was “brave” enough to order the practically raw beef sashimi. Unlike tataki, it is unseasoned, save for some pepper, green onion, and ginger, but to be honest, it didn’t need more than that. The pepper, green onion, and ginger helped to enhance the taste of the beef, which was very clean. I didn’t really realize that, like sashimi and sushi, the gyu sashimi is meant to be enjoyed with a splash of soy sauce. According to Val, the sweet soy is more complementary. I would very much like to try this the next time I order gyu sashimi. The inari was fairly standard of sushi restaurants. However, they didn’t put in too much rice, which I was very happy about and they neatly folded and tucked in the excess inari making a very pretty and clean presentation. My only quip about this is that there weren’t sesame seeds mixed in with the rice in the inari, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The orange bay scallops were ordered more out of curiosity. This dish was described as bay scallop tempura and diced fresh orange tossed in an aioli sauce with tobiko. While the dish was delicious with the crunch and pop of the tobiko, the creaminess of the aioli, and the sweet, freshness of the diced orange, I agree with Val’s sentiment that it could have done with a touch less of aioli. It honestly felt like the scallops and orange were swimming in it.

The last dish to come was the sushi/sashimi entree. Like the inari, they had kept the rice to a minimum. Even Val’s original concern about the temaki containing too much rice was unfounded; they had found the perfect ratio of rice to spicy tuna to greens. While the sashimi was thinly sliced, it was of the highest quality. The only complaint about this was that the unagi was cooked a touch over; therefore, it was a little stiff going down rather than the smoothness I’m used to from eel. As this was an entree, it also came with rice. However, with everything we ordered, there was enough rice between the rolls and nigiri that the bowl of rice remained untouched.

Service was excellent. Empty dishes never sat on the table long, teacups never remained empty long. The servers, whether we were their table or not, checked in periodically to make sure everything was still okay (not to the point where it got annoying).

I know I haven’t really be consistent in the past regarding accessibility and I apologize and am trying to be better and notice these kinds of issues. In terms of accessibility, it’s a little bit difficult. There is a step up in order to access the front door of the restaurant and the back way through the connecting building is a little narrow.

My overall assessment is that I would definitely come back, but because of how expensive this place is, I’d have to come here in moderation. Based on this experience, I’d give this restaurant a 4.25/5.

Restaurant Lights/Interior
Left to right: Goma-ae, house salad, miso soup
Assorted and avocado tempuras
Top: Orange Bay Scallops Bottom (starting at the 12 o’clock position, going clockwise): tamago sashimi, volcano roll, inari nigiri, gyu sashimi
Sushi/Sashimi Entree
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Restaurant Review: Goro+Gun

Location: 225 7 Ave SW (Scotia Centre in the Core)
Website: http://goroandgun.ca/

These last few weeks have been hell for me. Though I’ve taken some time off of work, it’s far from relaxing. These two months off are meant for me to study for the LSAT. I promised myself this would be the last time I take this damn test. It’s becoming incredibly stressful to continually have to endure the four hour exam and besides all that, it’s costing me a fortune just to try and get in. Today I took a much need break and went shopping downtown at The Core with my sister. I’ve passed Goro+Gun several times on my visits there and was initially informed of it’s existence by my cousin, Yulin.

Today we finally had a chance to stop in and give this place a try. The entrance was not exactly as I expected. There wasn’t really a podium/counter where the host or hostess could stand and the doors opened up into what looked like the middle of the restaurant. My sister and I approached cautiously and were immediately greeted. As it was nearly three in the afternoon, the place was pretty empty and we were promptly seated and served. My sister, Valerie remarked that the place had the feel of a tapas bar. With the open kitchen and a lot of bar seating, it certainly seemed that way.

We started with drinks: the elderflower power and yuzu soda. Both brought me back to Mexico when we had the alcohol free margaritas. In short, way too sweet. The other thing was that I expected the yuzu soda to be less…washed out in colour. It looked almost exactly the same as the Elderflower Power and tasted almost the same. I expected that the blood orange would have brought a vibrant redish orange to the drink, but that wasn’t what happened. We quickly worked through the menu, deciding to go with a calamari, a tuna poke, the Paitan Ramen, the chef’s selection of sashimi, a rainbow roll, and the special yuzu scallop.

The calamari were so perfectly fried that at first I was shocked. Most of the restaurants I’ve been to in the past have vastly over-fried the calamari so that it’s hard and rubbery. This was not the case for these calamaris. They were soft and succulent, leaving me wanting more. It served with a yuzu and spicy mayo sauce, which tasted a little different than most spicy mayo sauces I’ve had. One obvious reason was that there was yuzu in the sauce giving it a unique taste, but the other was that the mayo was actually spicy. The only complain was that it was a bit on the salty side, but other than that, best calamari I’ve had to date. The second appetizer we ordered, the tuna poke, is equally fantastic. Though, also on the salty side, they had large chunks of tender tuna and smooth, creamy avocado on a bed of fresh greens, dressed with a sweet sesame dressing and served with fried wonton crisps. I feel that my ability to handle raw fish has grown substantially. I remember a time when the idea of putting a raw piece of fish into my mouth made my stomach turn. But now, I can appreciate it as well as the skillful seasoning of the chef.

We had just finished with our appetizers when the rainbow roll arrived. It certainly was rainbow. The roll consisted avocado and cucumber topped with tuna, salmon, prawn, scallop, and ikura served atop two sauces: a spicy mayo and a garlic aioli. I didn’t have a chance to have much of the spicy mayo, but it was essentially the same as the one served with the calamari except no yuzu. The garlic aioli was surprisingly good with the roll, the slight saltiness was perfect so that I didn’t have to use any soy sauce. As we worked on that, the sashimi came. Now, I can handle raw in small quantities. I still can’t handle eating a slab of sashimi so this one was all for Val. When we were ordering, the waitress informed us that the Chef’s Selection would have two more pieces of sashimi than if we ordered any of the other types of sashimi on the menu. Unfortunately, it was short one piece. Though this is not a huge deal, considering the price, I’d really have wanted that piece, although it wasn’t like we could say, hey, we’re missing a piece because by the time we realized it, it was at the point where she could have just said, you ate it and no one could prove anything. We let it go, but it’s something I’m going to soon forget. After that was the Paitan Ramen. Apparently, Goro+Gun is known for its ramen, so this was a must for us. I don’t particularly like miso based soups simply because they have a tendency to be very salty. And while tonkotsu broths have a richer pork flavour that is creamier in consistency, sometimes the porkiness can be a bit overwhelming for me. So today we decided to go with a chicken broth based ramen. The Ramen had pork belly, bamboo shoots, boiled bean sprouts, and heaps of green onions and seaweed. The broth was phenomenal especially since they don’t use any MSG in any of their food. The noodles, when I first had them were slightly chewy, just the way I like them. The only sad thing was that there was very little of much else. The heap of bean sprouts was so small I could have eaten them in one bite and there were only about four slices of bamboo shoots, but the worst was that they only gave two small slices of pork belly. I get that pork belly can be expensive, but come on. For a dish of comparable size and price, Anju gave us four large slices of pork belly. I was unimpressed to say the least. The last dish was the special yuzu scallops. The menu doesn’t ever indicate how many pieces are in a roll or how many pieces of sashimi per order, which I wish it had. At first, we thought that the price was for one piece and we were completely appalled. It turns out that it was for two pieces. I mean, that’s not much better, but I’d have to admit, it was pretty good. It’s similar to the creamy scallop dish that most sushi restaurants have, but it’s funny how a touch of citrus can elevate the dish.

In the end, we decided to round out the meal with a dessert, something we hadn’t tried before: a green tea white chocolate brownie. It was unlike any dessert I had ever had. The “brownie” looked more like slices of cake topped with chilled and sweetened red beans, a berry compote and spun sugar. I’ve never had spun sugar in my life; it something I’ve only ever seen on TV. It’s even more beautiful up close. Eating it was like eating needles, but in a good way. The green tea was very light and the chocolate undetectable. I preferred the compote to the red bean, but the red bean was still pretty good.

Though expensive, the meal was pretty good. It seems as though there is a touch of yuzu in everything and at this time I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. In most of the dishes we ordered, it was undetectable. Even in the drink I could barely taste anything but the overbearing sweetness of the other ingredients in the drink. All things considered, I would definitely recommend this restaurant for their ramen and appetizers. Next time I’d like to try out their bentos and teppenyaki. That’s another thing for another day though. Based on today’s experience, I’d rate them 4.25/5.

Panorama of Restaurant Interior

Panorama of Restaurant Interior

Calamari

Calamari

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke

Rainbow Roll

Rainbow Roll

Chef's Selection of Sashimi

Chef’s Selection of Sashimi

Special Yuzu Scallop Sushi

Special Yuzu Scallop Sushi

Paitan Ramen

Paitan Ramen

Green Tea White Chocolate Brownie

Green Tea White Chocolate Brownie

Restaurant Review: Sushi Hiyori

Location: 1348 Hornby St

Day one, restaurant one. After being dropped off at the airport at 7:30 there was a lot of time to wait before our flight, so unsurprisingly, when we finally landed in Vancouver, everyone was starving. We looked up restaurants before we headed out, but decided that the best course of action was to go into the first appealing restaurant that we saw on our way to Granville Island. This was the restaurant we stumbled on.

As it was 2 in the afternoon, we decided to go with something light so that we could still have dinner at a reasonable time. We ordered the eight piece tuna and salmon sashimi, takoyaki, Energy Roll, and okonomiyaki. I didn’t have any sashimi, but my sister described it as being well chilled with no fishy taste for the tuna and that the slabs were sufficiently thick. The takoyaki is comparable to the one served at Sakana Grill. It too is served with a generous helping of fish flakes on top. However, I’d recommend these ones over the Sakana ones simply because it had a crunchier exterior, which I enjoyed immensely. The okonomiyaki batter is pretty much the same as the takoyaki except that it has onion and is flattened out into a pancake shape. This one was a bit of a disappointment as it was most unlike the picture that was printed in the menu. The menu promised a large pancake not unlike a Korean pancake in Korean BBQ. The first few bites were really enjoyable, but the sauce to pancake ratio was a bit off and there wasn’t enough sauce to go with all the pancake. The Energy Roll was essentially a dynamite roll with fried unagi on top, dressed with spicy mayo and unagi sauce. This roll is one of my favourites to date and this is the first time I’ve tried fried unagi (unagi in tempura batter and deep fried).

 Since it was so late, there were few patrons, but when we walked by around 7 pm, they were packed, which is always a good indication. Service was a bit lacking, but again, because of the late hour this was technically their lunch time. Having taken everything into consideration, I’d say that my experience here was pretty good and that I would recommend this place. I would give this restaurant a 3.75/5.

   

  

Restaurant Review: Globefish

Location: 6455 Macleod Tr SW Website: http://globefish.ca/ The first time I visited this restaurant was with my family. We had heard rave reviews about this place and as my sister was a sushi fanatic, it seemed natural to pay this place a visit. When we first arrived, we had a hard time finding a parking spot so my dad dropped us off to get a seat while he parked. The restaurant interior was fairly small and there was already a line up out the door. This was a good sign, it meant that it was popular and we could expect the very best. We waited for over half an hour outside in the heat with the disgusting smell of sewage wafting up at us. After a very long wait, we got in thinking we had escaped the smell, but alas, that was not true. They decided to keep the doors open, making the smell unbearable as we ate and I had no appetite for food. And it wasn’t as though we could eat quickly and leave to escape for service was incredibly slow. However, in this situation I can understand, as the restaurant was packed with a line out the door; it’s easy for the kitchen to quickly become overwhelmed. My dad has always emphasized giving restaurants a second chance. Today was their second chance. As we walked over from the mall to the restaurant in the rain the familiar smell of sewage rose up to greet us. We arrived a little early (five minutes or less) so the restaurant wasn’t open yet. We waited outside, being one of the first to enter. From the moment I walked in, I did not feel welcome. The hostess who seated us pretty much didn’t even say a word and just led us to our table and left. Our waitress was not any better. We were barely even settled when she came over and asked what we wanted to drink. We hesitated momentarily earning us an irritated look.  She returned quickly with our drinks and asked if we were ready to order. Having just come from my ophthalmologist appointment, my pupils were still so dilated that I couldn’t read and had to ask my sister to read off the menu to me. We asked for a couple of minutes to agree on the last few rolls and she walked away irritatedly. When we were finally ready to order, she was nowhere in sight. We ordered takoyaki and a mentai calamari to start, a prawn tempura, a tuna and salmon sashimi, and three rolls: the Power of Love, Tokyo Sky Tree, and Men in Black. Of course we had to get a calamari, it’s me we’re talking about. This calamari, as expected, had a Japanese spin to it. It was strips of battered and seasoned squid served on a bed of mixed greens and three slices of red bell peppers, drizzled with what appeared to be togarashi mayo. The first few bites were delicious and the balance between the oily heaviness that often comes with deep fried foods with the tartness of the mayo were spot on. However, as the ratio of mayo to calamari was a bit off, the calamari began to get heavier and thus harder and harder to eat. On top of that, it appears that someone was a bit heavy handed with the Japanese spices which I’m pretty sure had salt, so I had quite a time drinking the whole pot of tea trying to maintain the balance of sodium to water within my body. The takoyaki here is a bit better than I’ve had at most places. It isn’t swimming in sauce and it has more octopus in it. The prawn tempura was just sad. It was very clear that these were from frozen. They were tiny and stick like (like a little too rigid). I didn’t have any of the tuna and salmon sashimi, so I can’t comment much on that, but according to my sister they were up to par. The first of the three rolls, the Power of Love, wasn’t all that special. It was essentially a California roll topped with Unagi and Red & Green Tobiko. The second, the Tokyo Sky Tree, just looked so bizarre. The roll was stacked in three columns and topped with a tendril that looked like a piece of whole wheat deep fried Vietnamese vermicelli (inedible) and shredded green onion. Inside the rolls themselves were salmon, mango and the outside had avocado. The strangest part was that there were Cajun spices sprinkled on it and the menu stated “spicy mayo” but it was hot sauce and mayo drizzled on the plate. I liked the bit of sweetness from the mango in the roll, but other than that I don’t have too much to say other than I didn’t like it. The last roll, the Men in Black roll is a roll specific to the Chinook location. Unlike the other rolls, this one is made with black rice. I can’t remember exactly everything that went in there, but I do know there was cucumber, salmon, avocado, and tobiko. There may or may not have been Unagi. It was drizzled with a sweet sauce. It wasn’t like the Unagi sauce that I was used to though it tasted similar. This has to be my favourite roll. The addition of the cucumbers gave it a fresh taste in contrast to the heaviness of the calamari and takoyaki.

Based on the food and service, I most likely will not be returning here. When I go for sushi I prefer it to be a little more on the traditional side. I don’t ever want to find cream cheese on my sushi at any point in time. The presentation was a bit lacking and the wait time for service and food was a bit long for my tastes. For those reasons and those listed above, I’d give this place a 2/5.

Takoyaki

Takoyaki

Mentai Calamari

Mentai Calamari

Prawn Tempura

Prawn Tempura

Tuna and Salmon Sashimi

Tuna and Salmon Sashimi

Men in Black

Men in Black

Power of Love

Power of Love

Tokyo Sky Tree

Tokyo Sky Tree

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