Sherman's Food Adventures: Kosoo Restaurant

Kosoo Restaurant

With so many different ethnic foods available in Vancouver, it is with no surprise to see a few of them team up to create unique combinations.  Of course, there are some expected fusion between Vietnamese and French in addition to Japanese and Pacific Northwest.  Kissa Tanto brought us Japanese-Italian while we've seen Dynasty venture into various cuisines matched up with traditional Cantonese.  Something a bit unexpected is the newly opened Kosoo with it French-trained chef doing some fusion with Korean cuisine.  Recently, I attended a tasting of their new menu items.

Despite the French-Korean fusion that was expected, we started with an Italian dish in the Caprese Salad.  Well, I'm happy to report that their take on it was successful with impactful flavours that were a good mix of acidity, bright herbs and sweetness.  The ample garlic and onions along with the requisite basil created an aromatic hit that went well with the fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.  As much as the additions seemed minor, the dish ate very differently than a traditional Caprese.  Next up, we had a Japanese-influenced dish in the Toro Sashimi that was neatly plated as a flower and served essentially straight-up.  Hence, this depended on the freshness of the fish and it was on point.  Buttery soft while retaining a meatiness, the fish was naturally sweet.

Onto something that was mostly Korean, we had the trendy (at least in Vancouver it is) Spicy Chicken Galbi served in a UFO grill.  In the centre, we found tender nuggets of chicken mixed with onions, cabbage and sweet potato-starch noodles bathed in a pointedly spicy sauce that had a nice kick as well as a background brininess.  On the side, there was the usual melted mozzarella cheese, but the other part wasn't just plain corn.  Rather, it was a yam puree with corn.  Something a bit different than the usual corn and/or egg.  Moving back to Japanese with a twist was the Spicy Popeye Gyoza filled with a whole prawn, spinach and cream cheese.  This was as good as it looked with a firmly crunchy shell with a meaty prawn and creamy spinach.  The spicy creamy dip in the middle amped it up a bit.

Completely back to Japanese, we sampled 2 rolls with the Spicy Tuna Roll and Unagi Roll.  These were pretty typical, but that didn't mean they weren't good.  In fact, I found the rice to be on point being chewy with enough moisture where there was just enough of it.  The Unagi Roll was akin to most other dragon rolls consisting of a imitation crab, avocado and a generous amount of unagi on top.  The spicy tuna had a similar base roll while topped with seared tuna, jalapenos, spicy mayo and special sauce.  As expected, this roll had more impact due to the added spice and sauces.

Taking inspiration from the chef's French-training, we had the Tomato Mussel Stew that exhibited Korean spices.  Hence, there was a unique zestiness that was more spicy than what you would normally see in tomato-based mussel dish.  That was a good thing though as the mussels were extremely briny.  This helped balance the strong seafoody flavours.  Beyond that, the mussels were buttery and on point.  Going in yet another direction, we had mussels again, albeit in the Spanish Gambas featuring classic EVOO and garlic with a Korean twist utilizing Korean dried chilies.  Hence, we got the usual garlickiness combined with some heat.  The best part was dipping the side of bread into the oil.

We then came all the way back to Japanese with a large serving of Gomae.  Beyond the unique plating where we found the gomae an interesting geometric shape, the Korean sesame sauce underneath was not as sweet as it appeared.  Rather, there was some nice aromatics going on.  I would say that it wasn't as strong as some other versions I have tried though.  We had the Tartare Sampler that was not on the new Spring menu but was beautiful to photograph and equally tasty.  The sesame mustard dressing for the tuna had an umami quality to it with a bite at the end.  I thought the sweet soy, tako, wasabi and Korean pear was a flavourful compliment to the buttery beef.  The one thing that stuck out from this tasting was that their form of fusion was restrained where flavours were complimentary rather than reinventing the wheel.  It reminded me of Indian-Chinese food, where the dishes looked familiar, but the flavours were uniquely different.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- They didn't go overboard with the fusion
- Varied menu
- Subtle, but flavourful spice additions

The Bad:
- Some might want more daring fusion


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