[02/01/2015] Yup, I went back for a second round of Dine Out! Since I don’t get to spend much time with Papa Rae, I thought it would be nice for us to have some father-daughter bonding time. When I asked him if he wanted to go dine out with me, his only request was Japanese food.. so immediately, Miku and Minami popped into mind. It was a rather last minute decision, and many reservation spots for both restaurants were already gone, for dinner in particular. At the end, I managed to find a suitable time at Minami for lunch on Sunday, the very last day of the 2015 festival. It was great because I didn’t have to pick between the two.. Miku was all booked. 😛
Miku, Minami and the newer Gyoza Bar + Ramen are all under the Aburi Brand, serving up Japanese cuisine with a modern, fusion twist. Minami is Miku’s sister restaurant, with a similar menu and philosophy. Their service concept, “Ningenmi”, blends the North American culture and Japanese traditions. The highlight of the two restaurants is their use of the Aburi method, a special flame-searing preparation to their sushi.
Minami is located in the Yaletown district, conveniently a block away from the skytrain station. The restaurant itself was spacious, with a bar, and many subdivisions. We were seated near the back, so unfortunately, I was unable to see the awesome chefs fully in action, dang it.. at least I got a lucky glimpse of them on my way out!
I love the polished, chic, but still relaxed and comfortable atmosphere here. It’s a good place to be for a casual hangout with friends and family.
While most participating restaurants in the Dine Out festival offer 3-course meals with options, Miku and Minami have set menus. I’m not complaining because that means less decisions for me hehe. Their menus are pretty similar in structure and variety, with the lunch being $28 and dinner priced at $38 per person.
We asked for some hot water, and I was pleased to see the extra wedge of lemon. A boost of flavour and vitamins!
The first thing that was served to us was a complementary bowl of miso soup. As far as miso soup goes, this was too much on the salty side.. although I did like the abundance of enoki, tofu, and seaweed.
Next up, a stone plate of sushi with the chef’s selection of nigiri, roll, and their signature Aburi oshi sushi. Notice that neither wasabi nor soy sauce were served, because the sushi here are prepared with specific sauces that add unique flavours to each and every piece. Starting from the left, we have the Hamachi (yellowtail) nigiri, which was topped with a dollop of an interesting avocado paste, (5/5) then a miso glazed Albacore nigiri. (4.5/5) The sauces went really well with the tuna, which was soft and just melts in your mouth, mm! Next, we have the Minami roll, a mix of spicy prawn and cucumber, wrapped with slices of short ribs, finished off with their wasabi masatake sauce. I love all the different textures here, its totally unlike any other ordinary maki. (5/5) Finally, we have their famous Aburi oshi sushi. The Ebi oshi sushi was alright- there was a cool hint of citrus from the lime zest, but I feel like the huge chunk of rice was quite bland. The ebi was sort of lost too with the amount and richness of the sauce. (3/5) On the other hand, the Salmon oshi sushi was just as amazing as everyone else describes! The fresh salmon, slice of jalapeno adding some kick, along with creaminess from their miku sauce- it was simply delicious. I liked the extra layer of salmon sandwiched in between the rice too, which gave it more flavour in contrast to the ebi oshi. (5/5) You can tell the sushi here was all assembled with care and beautiful presentation, using quality ingredients.
The Zen was a set of Minami’s specialties in their dainty hinoki wood box. This consists of 4 appetizer-sized items- Fraser Valley Pork Cheek, Tiger Prawn Cake, Beet Salad, and Aburi Bincho- and together it makes up a substantial meal.
I dug in my box with the Tiger Prawn Cake, because I didn’t want it to get stale and cold. The cake came with a smooth, sweet chili aioli and a side slaw. The batter was light and crisp, with a generous amount of shrimp inside that gave off a snap with every bite. (4.5/5)
The Beet Salad has pickled and roasted beets and microgreens, dressed in a tangy maple-apple cider vinaigrette. It was really refreshing! (5/5)
The Fraser Valley Pork Cheek was not as memorable.. I felt like the braised pork was a bit dry and tough. Also, there was too much sweetness on the outside with the pairing of a blueberry compote and the maple-miso that was used with the potatoes, but none of that flavour really got absorbed into the large piece of meat. I like the softness of the heirloom potatoes though. (3.5/5)
Lastly, the Aburi Bincho. This is seared tuna, similar to tuna tataki, accompanied with a renkon, ponzu-oroshi sauce and some red seaweed. Again, the tuna has a delicious, buttery texture. (5/5)
Dessert was slightly disappointing.. it was just vanilla icecream, that seems store-bought, decorated with some berries and a piece of wafer. (3/5)
All in all, I had a wonderful experience at Minami. The food here was amazing (making up for the boring dessert), and the dine-out menu gave us the opportunity to try a wide range of their dishes. Our server was super friendly, and checked on us frequently to make sure that we were enjoying everything. We spent close to $70 (counting in tips and parking and all), a higher end for lunch, but I think the splurge got its worth.
Value: 9/10 (based on DOVF)
Restaurant site: http://minamirestaurant.com/
I apologize for my recent inactivity on the blog, and the lateness of this review! I’ve been just so caught up with school and everything, ugh..
Have an amazing long weekend everyone!