*Restaurant is now closed*
Here we are again at Irashai Grill. I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting with a few other food bloggers back in May. I initially tried to talk Kim into attending as well; but he had already tried Irashai before and stuck by his original assessment. Hey, I totally respect that. Today, with Kim, Victoria and Anita, we were doing a photography workshop with Jackie Connelly. There was an option to eat at Irashai afterwards at our own expense. I guess this was a good idea since I could re-evaluate Irashai under different conditions. Although they did know who we were and thus, not really replicate a surprise visit.
We started off with the Beef Tataki Carpaccio which was beautifully presented on a bed of greens, daikon and carrot. Interestingly, despite looking buttery soft, the beef was a bit chewy. The citrus ponzu and herbed oil sauce was mostly... oil. Not sure if that was the intention.
The next item was the Summer Roll consisting of a shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, masago, tuna and mayo. I've had this roll before and it was quite pleasant, I especially liked the siracha kick at the end. However, there was no crunch from the tempura which ultimately did not provide the texture contrast needed in this roll.
Interestingly, Kim ordered the Oyako Don. His reasoning was to try a straight-up Japanese dish without the distraction of fancy fusion implements. Well... this was disappointing. If you look in the picture, you can definitely see egg, onion and chicken; but the dish was devoid of any flavour. The rice was completely white underneath without the usual penetration of dashi, mirin and soy. On a positive note, the rice was a nice consistency being a bit chewy. On the topic of chewy, the Aigamo was extremely tough. It was cooked exactly how we wanted, being a bit rare; however, it was like gnawing on an overcooked piece of chuck steak. This usually shouldn't be the case. We were all quite confused why this might be. In the end, we didn't come up with a definitive explanation. Maybe it might have helped to slice the breast thinner?
The last and probably best dish was the Grilled Sablefish with yuzu miso. It was cooked up perfectly with moist tender flakes and a nice caramelization on the surface. But then again, I haven't met a piece of sablefish I didn't like. This meal was very interesting on so many levels. I had practically the same items at the tasting in May; but the execution this time around was not good. For instance, both the beef and duck were fabulous last time. This time not. The roll was mostly similar to last time, so there was not too much to say about it. Same can be said about the sablefish, pretty much spot on once again. It's hard to explain the discrepancy between the 2 meals. I do know one thing for sure, the oyako don seriously needed flavour. I wouldn't go as far as saying the meal was terrible. It was decent with some good points and some low points. The question is: where would Irashai rate now that I've had it on the house and one out of my own pocket? Well, if you average both meals out, the real Irashai would probably fall somewhere in the middle. I still stand by my original post on Irashai; yet, I also fully stand by this current one as well. It's just too bad it was a letdown this time around...
- Nice venue
- Varied menu
- Good service (but they knew we were there)
- Food consistency issues (how can it differ so greatly from one visit to another?)
- Varied menu (can be a negative since the menu is not focused - Izakaya or Sushi Bar?)