Posts with tag "izakaya"

Ki Modern Japanese and Bar

Dining at Ki Modern Japanese and Bar restaurant on rare sunny day, oddly clouded my tastebuds that night. Well another way put it is that we were so enamoured with our setting that it seemed to enhance the flavour of the food.

Ki is a sophisticated chic Japanese restaurant located on the same block as the Shangri-La Hotel.  The restaurant started in Toronto and looks like it’s trying to grow its empire. For sure, it picked a prime well suited location in Vancouver. In the heart of financial district and coal harbour, the upstairs location gives you prime viewing spot of the surrounding well to-do buildings and shops. There is a restaurant and patio side or the lounge side and I highly recommend the patio.

The menu consists of items you might find at a izakaya: skewers, cooked dishes, sashimis, and sushi dishes. We started off with a simple assorted Seaweed Salad with sesame-ponzu dressing.

We were pleasantly surprise at the generous serving and variety of seaweed in the salad. It was fresh, crisp, tangy, and palette cleansing.

Of course we needed to try the fresh sushi on the menu

We picked the Ki Spidersoft which is shell crab, mango, perilla leaves, chives; Spicy Salmon Atlantic a roll of salmon, asparagus, endive, spicy raspberry sauce, ao noriko; and sushi pieces of Aji, Magura, Yellow Tail.  I like the spice and texture of the Spidersoft, the freshness and crush of the Spicy Salmon, and the quality of the pieces.

To continue the nibbling and sharing, we also picked out a couple of the skewers.  First came the surprisingly delicious Pancetta Wrapped Unagi

The Pancetta Wrapped Unagi is stuffed with grilled onion and pickled daikon, served with chilli ponzu sauce.  I loved how the different flavours came together: the saltiness from the pancetta with the sweetnees of the unagi and balanced out with the tang from the ponzu sauce.

Then the interesting marinated Swordfish

The marinated Swordfish was served with shishito peppers and a charred tomato ginger salsa.  I enjoyed the taste of something being grilled and charred but unfortunately I didn’t like how tough the swordfish came out.

Lastly, we ordered assorted seafood tempura.

There were pieces of prawn, halibut (I think), squid, and scallop.  These are all quality seafood but I thought it was a waste that such quality seafood was all battered and deep fried.  I think especially eating the tempura scallop turned me off and thought I rather have the scallop just simply grilled.  The tempura was nicely done with a light batter but I don’t think I’d order this type of tempura again.

We were giddy over the food the whole time.  But if we took the food out of the context of dining in an outdoor cabana under the sun, the dishes were good but not great.  Also another lesson learned is to not pick the cheapest bottle of sake from the menu…the sake we picked did not pair well with our food at all.

Overall the service was very attentive and the menu was decent but pricier than what you find at Guu or Zakkushi.  The winning point about this restaurant is the truly cool hidden gem of a patio.  A perfect spot to sneak to bask under our rare summer sun if you’re willing to spend the extra cash.

Ki Japanese Modern Bar
310 – 1121 Alberni Street
Ki Modern Japanese & Bar on Urbanspoon

Suika

It’s a rarity when after dining at new restaurant I would exclaim ‘can’t wait to go back!’; Suika was one of those restaurants.  Everything I had ranged from good to WOAH!  Since I was with my dining partner, we had shared a number of dishes and each was unique in taste but all delicious.

Suika is located in the Fairview near the corner of West Broadway and Fir Street.  It’s funky modern dark wall decor sort of reminds me of Toratatsu but without the Jazz feel.

Suika describes itself as a Japanese Snack Bar which I guess is another way to describe a Izakaya.  The menu consists of a large variety of appetizers, cold and hot dishes, and sushis all of which can be easily shared.

We based our ordering on recommendations from fellow food bloggers/twitterers and anything else that sounded good.

Out of the lengthy list of starters, we first went with the Tomato Kimchi

The tomato kimchi combination was so perfect that I’m surprised that nobody else in town seem to do it.  It’s kimchi marinated tomato with Chinese chives and cilantro oil.  The kimchi was actually light and not overwhelming, and it was a pleasantly light and fresh dish.

To continue with the chilled tapas theme, we also ordered Amaebi Kimchi and Lotus Root Kinpira

The Amaebi Kimchi (I was so close in typing amoeba instead) is kimchi marinated sweet shrimp sashimi.  It was certainly a little dish that was too easy to eat.  The shrimp was flavourful and sweet from the kimchi marinate and I made sure every part of it.  I slurped and sucked that little bugger (so inappropriate I know).  The more PG-rated Lotus Root Kinpira is stir-fried lotus root seasoned with fresh shichimi spice.  I grew up having lotus as a soup or in a Chinese stir fry so I welcome different takes to it.  Even thought it was lightly stir-fried, it still had that nice crunch to it.

One of the highly recommended dishes was the corn kakiage.

It’s a butter and soy battered corn tempura.  It was a novel and fun dish but we both commented that it should have the usual tempura sauce to accompany it.  The corn tempura seemed like a dish needed a dip to add more flavours to it.

I love my Japanese comfort food so I requested if we could get the Kakuni Bibimap

It’s stewed pork belly, sweet dried shrimp and scallions on rice served in a hot stone bowl.  The pork belly was nicely fatty and soft, and the rice cooked perfectly.  Of course I made sure I scraped the bottom of the stone bowl to get to the crispy rice leftovers.

The highlight of the dinner was the purely amazing Beef Shortrib

The short rib fried and tossed with sweet balsamic sauce.  And as mentioned one the menu, it’s like pork but not pork.  It was really close to the softness of pork belly.  When it arrived to the table, we were surprised at the generous portion of it.  The meat just fell off the bone and melted in your mouth.  After each bite, we both exclaimed ‘oh my god, this is so good’.

And because we were at a Japanese restaurant, I had to try the sushi.

The Negitoro Battera is pressed sushi with tuna belly, scallions, avocado, sesame topped with home made soy dressing and seaweed sauce.  To be honest, the Negitoro sushi roll is one of the more boring rolls for me but Suika made it more interesting.  The soy dressing and seaweed sauce definitely added more flavour and much needed to the dish.

We left Suika with our stomachs full and a smile on our faces.  It was a very satisfying dinner and, as mentioned before, I can’t wait to go back again.

Suika
1626 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC
Suika on Urbanspoon

Toratatsu Japanese Bistro

Toratatsu Japanese Bistro is located in the midst of the ramen boomtown of Robson Street and Denman. Toratatsu is an izakaya that creates contemporary Japanese tapas with a western flair and a touch of French.

The decor is a twist of a modern jazz lounge

It was a night with my beloved foodie friends; and when you have multiple stomaches at the table you take advantage of it by ordering multiple items. We ordered a bunch of tapas so I won’t make this into a long epic novel of a post. In general, most of the dishes were amazing and some were mind blowingly innovative

To start our dinner, the fresh Daikon Salad which is a mix of organic greens, daikon, baby anchovies, shiso, Japanese sour plum vinaigrette. And the amazingly priced Sashimi Platter which is a choice of 3 kinds of fresh assorted sashimi: we picked aburi shime saba (seared at the table which was pretty cool), aburi hotate, and albacore tuna

There was the Beef Tataki Carpaccio which is seared beef sashimi topped with fine shaved red onion salad. The marriage of true fusion of Ishiyaki Risotto which is the risotto of seared scallops, mushrooms, Iwanori seaweed served in a hot stone bowl. Risotto is already hard to make but to conjure up the idea to make it in a stone bowl is gutsy and wonderful.

Next came the wow factor and simply named Cheese Tofu.

It’s creamy mascarpone tofu, toasted almonds, a touch of honey, served with baguette. It was light and soft and more suited as dessert but I’m not complaining.

Still hungry, we decided on the lightly crispy calamari

To warm ourselves from the chilly cold night, hot pot seemed perfect

And my must have of Tarako Kimchi Udon

So much food, too much to describe, and all so good.

What’s my verdict? I can’t wait to go back and try the other half the menu.

Toratatsu Japanese Tapas Bistro
735 Denman St
Vancouver, BC V6G
Toratatsu on Urbanspoon