Sherman's Food Adventures: Yuwa Japanese Cuisine

Yuwa Japanese Cuisine

Long ago, I had a wonderful higher-end Japanese meal at Zest tucked in near the corner of 16th and MacDonald.  I never got to do a revisit because they closed and reopened as Stem in Burnaby.  As much as I enjoyed our visit to Stem, it couldn't replicate what we experienced at Zest.  Well, now we have Yuwa Japanese Cuisine occupying the old location of Zest offering up a similar experience with premium prices and high-quality food.  Authentic and featuring only the best ingredients, Yuwa isn't the same as the many other run-of-the-mill Japanese spots in town (nothing wrong with those BTW).

Of course to get a sense of any Japanese restaurant (that serves sushi that is), one must try their sashimi and that we did with the Chef's Sashimi consisting of chu-toro, bluefin tuna, hamachi, sea bream, jackfish, madai and saba.  This was masterfully presented on a multi-tiered plate complete with foliage and ice.  I really enjoyed the chu-toro as it was buttery and literally melted in my mouth.  It was sweet and fresh.  The same could be said about the non-fatty belly of the bluefin as it was meaty, yet delicate.  The rest of the fish was also good, but not on the same level as the bluefin tuna.   Just to cover all of the bases, we also got the Chef's Omakase Nigiri featuring chu-toro, hotate, cured sea bream, seared hamachi and ika.  Featuring many of the same ingredients as the sashimi, the nigiri were good with a good fish-to-rice ratio.  I thought the rice was nicely chewy, albeit a touch on the dry side.

So one of the more simple dishes we ordered was the Asparagus Komeko-age that was asparagus deep fried with a rice cracker crust and served with sansho pepper salt.  This was all about the textures where the rice cracker was firmly crunchy and brittle.  It was a complete textural contrast to the soft, yet still not overcooked, asparagus.  I would've liked to more flavour with the asparagus on its own, but then again, that is what the dip and sansho pepper salt was for.  This was a deceptively delicious creation.  Staying somewhat on the same theme, we had the Seasonal Assorted Tempura with purple yam, zucchini, okra, sweet potato and tiger prawn.  The care put into the preparation of the tempura was obvious as the batter was light and crispy while not greasy at all.  The tiger prawn were buttery with a light snap.  

Continuing on, we got the seemingly simple Jidori Dashimaki Tamago made with Maple Hills Farms free-range eggs.  Although there was a bit of moisture leaking onto the plate, the omelette itself was well-prepared.  I found the rolls to be even and delicate while the texture to be fluffy and airy.  It was mildly seasoned and served wtih a side of grated daikon.  This was actually served as a whole, but we cut it up for the picture (it looked better...).  For our one maki roll, we had the Canadian Lobster Roll with mango, mayo, sliced cucumber, tobiko and lobster bisque sauce.  This was attractive and fresh, but we felt the amount of lobster was either lacking and/or got lost compared to the other ingredients.  There wasn't anything inherently wrong with the roll, it just wasn't that interesting nor impactful.  Even the lobster bisque wasn't as aromatic as we would've expected.

Some more robust items came in the form of the Beef Suji Nikomi and Duck Udon.  Consisting of beef tendon and daikon, the beef suji nikomi was slow-stewed for 48 hours in a shoyu stock.  The result was something very Chinese-tasting, but good nonetheless.  Unlike the Chinese version, this was much more subtle and delicate.  It wasn't salty, rather we could taste the sweetness of the daikon and the gelatinous texture of the soft tendon.  As for the duck udon, the shoyu dashi mirin broth was lightly sweet with subtle umaminess.  The noodles were slippery and perfectly textured (chewy, not soft).  I thought the duck was excellent being tender and meaty.  Overall, I thought the meal at Yuwa was good with carefully prepared food.  Flavours were delicate and well-thought out.  However, due to the pricing, our expectations were justifiably high and we felt Yuwa could and should be even better.  

The Good:
- Quality ingredients
- Carefully prepared food
- Excellent service

The Bad:
- Good, but not great considering the price point


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