Sherman's Food Adventures: Zipang Provisions

Zipang Provisions

Quite awhile back, I had visited Zipang Sushi on Main and came away impressed with the food.  It was a small little joint that dished up authentic Japanese eats that wasn't glitzy or over-complicated.  Well, the place eventually closed up shop and moved into larger digs further up Main in the former Bo Kong space.  I've been meaning to see what has changed ever since the move, but didn't really have the chance.  However, with Pom Pom declaring that she wanted Japanese eats after softball, that gave me the opportunity to suggest the place.  With no one objecting, we made our way over to the hipsterish decor of Zipang Provisions.

We decided to share a bunch of dishes including the Gyoza and the Chicken Karaage Poutine.  Lightly seared (at least 3 of them were), the bottom of the gyozas were uniformly crispy.  Aesthetically, I guess if they were all the same shade, it would've looked better.  However, they ate well with thin dumpling skin that has some elasticity and chew.  Inside, the pork filling was moist and tender.  Now the Chicken Karaage Poutine was a bit of a surprise as I don't remember that on the old menu.  It turned out to be pretty spot on with crunchy fries and legit cheese curds.  On top, the chicken karaage was juicy and lightly crispy.  I found the gravy to be mild-tasting which was fine since I don't like it too salty.

Next up we had the Chicken Yakisoba which was inundated with a good amount of veggies.  In fact, there was more veggies and chicken than actual soba.  There are 2 schools of thought here - in terms of material costs, meat and veggies are more expensive, yet if this is a noodle dish, then there wasn't enough of it.  For me, I wanted more noodles as there was a big mess of ingredients on the plate leftover since there wasn't enough noodles to accompany them.  Whatever the case, textures were on point and there was enough tang to balance the sweetness.  One of the best dishes of the night was the Veggie Okonomiyaki.  This was super crispy on the outside while airy and light on the inside.  There was just enough veggies to have an impact while not making everything wet.

Featuring thin layers of pork formed into a cutlet and fried, the Mille-Feuille Pork Cutlet Don was pretty good as well.  Served atop chewy, yet not dry rice, the crunchy cutlet was topped with egg, sauce and onion.  Although the pork was not exactly juicy, it wasn't overly dry either.  We found it tender while retaining a definite meatiness.  One thing that we would've liked to see was more sauce as the rice was pretty bland.  Boss Woman didn't feel like sharing with the rest of us since she doesn't do raw fish.  So she got the Pineapple Fried Rice for herself.  Served in a hollowed-out half pineapple, the rice was on the softer side, but not mushy.  It was sweet with little nuggets of meat strewn throughout.  She enjoyed her rice but thought there could've been more a nuttiness from the stir-fry.

On that note, onto the raw stuff, we had the Chef's Assorted Sashimi consisting of sockeye salmon, red tuna, hamachi, toro, ebi, ika and hotate.  As evidenced in the picture, the sheen on the each piece was apparent.  As such, textures were what they were expected to be and the natural sweetness was there.  I personally enjoyed the buttery hamachi the most as well as the ever-so-lightly torched hotate.  Toro was fatty and tender as well.  As much as we know that Miku serves possibly the best Salmon Oshi in town, we decided to give the one here a try as well.  This one featured chewy sushi rice that was on the softer side, but again, not mushy.  There was significantly more sockeye salmon than the one found at Miku/Minami.  Hence, the oshi ate rather robust and the salmon was noticeable.  It wasn't as delicate though and the charred caramelized flavours were less pronounced.

Arriving on one plate, we got an assortment of rolls including Toro, Negihama, Spicy Cactus and Unagi.  Interestingly, we didn't remember ordering a toro roll and really, there wasn't one on the menu (maybe it was negitoro missing the green onion?).  Anyways, it was fine, but the negihama was better since it did have the green onion and the hamachi was on buttery and sweet.  The spicy cactus was coated with toasted sesame seeds (topped with tobiko) and inside, there was imitation crab, tempura bits, avocado, mayo and spicy sauce.  The dominant flavour was the spice as well as the nutty sesame seeds.  With enough eel and sauce for impact, the unagi roll was flavourful on its own.  Pom Pom ordered a Rainbow Roll all for herself and it was pretty much a repeat of the sashimi on top of a California Roll.  So nothing much to comment other than it was solid.

The grilled Beef Short Ribs arrived much later than expected because it was left off the bill.  When it did arrive, it wasn't really worth the wait because the meat was overly chewy.  Furthermore, there really wasn't any char or caramelization to speak of.  The glaze was definitely there, but it lacked depth.  Hence, there was noted sweetness, but it wasn't complex nor was the saltiness. No matter, we were looking forward to dessert anyways and we went all in with 5 of them including the Souffle Cheesecake (yes, a la Uncle Tetsu-style).  This was crumbly and light, yet still retained a cream cheesiness to the texture and taste.  There was a surprise inside in the form of raisins which provided a burst of sweetness to the otherwise light-tasting cake.  This version was reminiscent of the one found at Cake-Ya.

Moving onto a more traditional form of baked cheesecake (texture-wise), we got the Matcha Cheesecake.  This was smooth and creamy while having a touch of density.  It wasn't like a NY-style cheesecake as the overall texture wasn't heavy at all.  With a light dusting of matcha, the cake did exhibit a balanced flavour that wasn't bitter nor overwhelming.  It was lightly sweet and had the aroma of cheesecake in the aftertaste.  Continuing with our desserts, the Taiyaki served with Yuzu Ice Cream was better than it appeared.  Crispy, giving way to chewy mochi and subsequently red bean paste, there was a nice variation in textures.  The filling wasn't crazy sweet, so the taiyaki was pretty good.  On the side, we found the ice cream to be more of a sorbet as it was pretty icy.  It was refreshing and full-flavoured.

Exhibiting the same icy texture, the Black Sesame Ice Cream was actually a bit crunchy.  Bigger sheets of ice ensured this wasn't going to be creamy.  Whatever it gave up in texture, it completely made up with flavour.  The unmistakable black sesame aroma was evident from the first spoonful.  Sweet and nutty, this was Bear's favourite.  Lastly, we had the Matcha Brulee that featured a hard sugar topping.  It was beautifully caramelized so there was a strong smokiness and deep sweetness.  This was necessary as the custard itself was not very sweet.  There was a light matcha taste, but it wasn't very strong.  Overall, we thought the food at Zipang to be solid and well-priced.  Nothing wowed us, but that wasn't a negative.  Zipang is a definite option if one was in the area.

The Good:
- Well-priced
- Solid eats
- Good service

The Bad:
- Portion size was modest
- Ice cream too icy

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