Let's face it. Meat-on-a-stick is an outstanding way to eat. Think of it, there is meat and the portability aspect seals the deal for me. However, when it comes to the Japanese version (kushi), there is not a huge selection of restaurants that serve it exclusively. Zakkushi is the most well-known in Vancity, but there is a new player in town in the growing Olympic Village district. With a huge communal table and some interesting creations, we find Q Shi Q offering up skewered meat in a hip dining space. I was invited to do a menu tasting where I enlisted the help of Emily and her Mijune-like eating abilities.
We started off strong with the Lobster Kushi with yuza anticucho sauce. Consisting of a whole lobster tail sliced in half, it was seasoned just enough that the saltiness did not overwhelm the natural sweetness of the meat. As for the meat itself, it was just barely cooked which meant it was buttery with an appealing chewy bounce texture. Although the sauce was slightly spicy, it didn't hinder the natural flavours. Next up was the Grilled Ezo Abalone where the meat was sliced for quick searing. That was achieved where the abalone was just done as there was a firm rebound and crunch. It was mildly seasoned with wasabi-tomatillo so that the true taste of the brininess and sweetness came through.
Continuing on with the high-quality ingredients, we moved onto the Snake River Farms Wagyu Striploin which were beautifully prepared. The fat was properly activated where the meat was cooked through without being overdone. Hence, the beef ate buttery and tender while still exhibiting an appealing chew. I found it to be aggressively seasoned with a shallot karashi vinaigrette, but not to the point where it was too salty or tart. Back to seafood, the Chilean Sea Bass with yuzu miso and shiso arrived next. It was a bit dry in spots, yet ultimately, it was buttery soft as a whole. There was a subtle char and smokiness that was dominated by the bright shiso and tartness of the yuzu.
Another reason I was at Q Shi Q was to try their entry in the Poutine Challenge - the Kushi Q-Tine consisting of grilled foie gras (regularly with only one), cheese curd infused korokke skewer finished with a duck & dashi gravy. I gotta say this was pretty tasty as the buttery foie was expertly prepared where the natural fattiness and seared smokiness came through with each bite. As for the korokke, they were crispy and ooey gooey inside. I thought the gravy brought everything together with a richness from the duck fat with only a minimal amount of salt. Underneath, there was a wood ear mushroom that was appealingly tart that helped cut through all the richness.
Back to the seafood, we were served the Grilled King Crab Merus with Japanese "bearnaise". Once again, Chef Hiro prepared this perfectly where the crab was barely cooked through. Hence it was fluffy and retained moisture that afforded sweet and naturally salty flavours. With just the right amount of sauce, it helped add both creaminess and acidity to the crab. Nicely charred, the Ton Toro exhibited an appealing porkiness accented by the citrusy and slightly spicy yuzu kosho. Since it was also just cooked through, the meat was still juicy while exhibiting the classic rebound tender chewiness. Since pork jowl is well-marbled with fat, there was a nice aroma in terms of smell and taste as well.
Presented together, we sampled the Brome Lake Duck Breast and 48-Hour Pork Belly next. Sporting multiple slits, the duck breast was still able to retain moisture that kept it tender with a firm, but appetizing chew. The skin was rendered enough with some crispiness. Once again, the yuzu kosho provided a little of everything including acidity, saltiness and spice. It didn't overwhelm the duck though. Cured and then braised, the pork belly was meaty with only enough fat for full-bodied flavour and texture. Although not exactly buttery due to the lack of fat, the pork was still tender enough with a seared salty crust on the outside. With all this meat, I guess we weren't surprised to find the Tofu Dengaku show up at our table. It was decent with a well-seared and smoky exterior that gave way to a medium-firm tofu interior. There was more than enough sweet miso on top for full effect.
Hey, if we were taking a short break from meat, why not continue with the Kale Gomaae? Although a bit soggy, the kale was tender with a chew. It was pretty tasty as every part of it was seasoned with a salty and sweet sesame dressing. As much as it was tasty, we could've done with less. Whatever, I still dusted this off happily. Something that I didn't expect to be impressive was the Zosui made with chicken broth rice soup and shimeji mushrooms. Tender and slightly fluffy, the rice sat in a rich broth that featured an umaminess afforded by the ample mushrooms. In addition, the tempura bits added an almost fried garlic essence to the dish. I wanted to keep eating it despite being pretty full at this point.
Heck, we didn't stop though continuing with the Tsukune (Chicken Meatballs) dressed with oishii and yuzu miso. Texturally, these were tender with a nice char on the outside. For us, we felt they were a bit too soft, devoid of meatiness. There wasn't a lack of seasoning though where I preferred the oishii with a blend that hit all the flavour notes. Maintaining the poultry theme, we were served Chicken Karaage with a side of Japanese curry sauce. Being soy-curry marinated, the chicken itself had plenty of punch on its own. In fact, I didn't really even need the sauce. The meat was succulent while the skin was rendered and crispy. This was a well-executed version.
Buttery and a bit rare in the middle, the plump Haida Gwaii Scallops were carefully grilled. Although some might consider them undercooked, I thought that any more heat would've rendered them chewy. Moreover, it wasn't as if there wasn't any caramelization on the exterior as a result. These were naturally sweet where the soy, aonori and bonito flakes added the necessary salty elements. Although expectedly not as tender as the Wagyu, the Angus Ribeye was good in its own right. Prepared medium-rare and dressed with soy-karashi, there a good amount of umaminess going on with the skewer. Although a bit past medium-rare, the meat was still plenty succulent.
Something definitely interesting was their interpretation of Fish n' Chips. These consisting of local cod wrapped with potato threads and deep-fried. As a result of the cooking process, the end parts of the fish were a little dry, but the middle remained moist. On the outside, the potato strings were crispy and not greasy. Everything was brought together by the tangy and crunchy (from the pickles) white miso tartar. Staying with fish, we had the Wild Coho Salmon topped with grated daikon and ponzu. Since it is their style to cook the fish through, it wasn't particularly soft nor tender (yet it wasn't dry either). I liked how it wasn't overdressed so that I could actually taste the fish.
Of course we weren't getting out of there without some offal. Hence we went for the Beef Tongue simply dressed with salt and lemon. Since the tongue was thinly sliced, it wasn't as chewy as it could've been. Usually, non-stewed tongue can be awfully tough to eat. The mild amount of seasoning allowed the meat flavour and fats to come through. We didn't ask for the Charred Chicken Hearts, but they figured since we ate almost everything on the menu, we should eat that too. Cooked just enough, the hearts were tender with a certain meatiness. They were finished with oishii sauce and sansho which covered all the flavours including some spice, acidity and saltiness.
With all the impressively prepared kushi, we were a bit disappointed with our last one. At first, the Inside Out Cordon Bleu sounded intriguing. However, it didn't really work as the outer bacon wrap was not charred enough. Hence it was chewy and fatty. On the positive side, the chicken meat was not overdone while the spicy cheese fondue sauce was mild flavoured and generally pleasant.
For dessert, we had the only 2 that were offered. The Matcha Latte Tiramisu looked promising, however it turned out to be rather dry and overly mild-tasting. When combined with the red bean, things improved with more sweetness and moisture. Our last item of this epic meal was the unbaked Citrus Cheesecake with yuzu marmalade. I thought the cheesecake was fairly creamy while not overly dense. It was pretty darn sweet though due to the marmalade. If I isolated the cheesecake without the marmalade, it was much better with only light acidity. Alright, since we ate practically everything on the menu, I am confident to say that the majority (around 80%) of the items are well-executed and tasty. We will be back on our own dime.
*All food and beverages excluding gratuities was complimentary*
- The large majority of the skewers were on point
- The non-skewer dishes we tried were pretty good too
- Proteins were prepared properly
- Desserts are not their strong point
- Not a huge fan of the chicken meatballs
- Can get pricey