If you have been to Miku, you are familiar with their Aburi Sushi which doesn't require soy nor wasabi. Their seared sushi with tasty sauces are flavourful enough on their own. Located in the former Goldfish, a new sister restaurant has opened up. Minami operates with a similar menu except for the addition of a few things (including noodles). With Yukon Gold back in town (and the fact I haven't seen him in 5 years), it was a good excuse to round up Rich Guy and Vandelay to meet him for some eats at Minami ( since I missed the media event a week earlier, I was craving Aburi Salmon Oshi).
We started with the Hamachi Carpaccio with citrus avocado sauce. The fish was buttery smooth and practically melted in our mouths. Although there were plenty flavouring agents, we could still taste the hamachi. Next was the Ebi Fritters consisting of white shrimp with spiced couscous, sweet chili aioli and soy balsamic reduction. The parsley batter was very crispy while being quite thick (possibly too much so). The shrimp had a good snap with lots of natural sweetness. I liked the sweet rich balsamic as it went well with the crunchy batter.
We weren't that thrilled with the Pork Gyoza with savoy cabbage, chili oil, soy, vinegar and lardons. For a filling made with poin loin and pork belly, it was dry and stiff. We were expecting moist and fluffy considering the addition of pork fat. On the other hand, the meat was tasty. When combined with the sauce, it covered all the bases: sweet, tart, spicy and savoury. Next up was the Aburi Carpaccio with organic 64° egg, asian pear, market greens, lotus root chips and jalapeño-garlic ponzu. The meat was super moist and tender. The sous-vide egg provided an almost buttery addition to the beef. The sauce added too much salt though.
Alright, all these dishes were fine and dandy, however, the main event arrived on a large platter. Starting from left to right, we had the Una-Kyu Roll, Pacific Roll, Aburi Salmon Oshi and Minami Roll. The Una-Kyu Roll consisted of BBQ fresh water eel tempura, cucumber, seven spice salt and unagi sauce. The crunch from the cucumber and eel tempura added plenty of texture in a normally "soft" roll. The unagi sauce was sweet, yet tempered by the salt. None of the flavourings overwhelmed the eel as we could still taste it. The Pacific Roll consisted of albacore tuna, jalapeño, cucumber, wrapped in shiso and yellowtail topped with cracked pepper and avocado sauce. It was light and refreshing with a hint of spice. There was a nice finish from the buttery avocado sauce. Onto what I was waiting for - the Aburi Salmon Oshi. Essentially pressed sushi with salmon topped by Miku sauce and jalapeño, this is their signature dish. The sushi rice had a nice texture and mild taste which was essentially a canvas for the nicely seared creamy sauce. One of my favourite things to eat in town.
Lastly, the Minami Roll was made up of Aburi short rib, spicy prawn, cucumber, wasabi and masatake. This was a flavourful mix of flavours and textures including the sweetness from the shrimp, aromatics from the sesame oil, crunch from the cucumber and the tender meatiness of the beef. I personally like the food at Miku/Minami even though it ain't cheap. So it begs the question: why not eat at a small sushi joint for much less? Well, if one needs to ask that question, then they are missing the point. You might as well declare you can eat yourself silly at McD's for $10.00 rather than spending your money on a tasting menu at West for $100.00. Those are 2 different things that should not be compared. I like Miku and Minami because the food is carefully prepared as well as tasting good. Service is attentive with great ambiance. Yes, that is all factored into the price. Oh, and let's not get into the "it's more authentic and better in Japan" argument. We're in Vancouver. I'm not going to fly to Japan to compare a restaurant.
- Aburi sushi, enough said
- Attentive service
- Nice ambiance and decor
- Yes, it is expensive, but consider where it is located and what you are getting
- Not a big deal for me, but Minami doesn't really offer anything different from Miku