Showing posts with label grilled fish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grilled fish. Show all posts

The Sushi Bar Revisited in 2022 (Toronto)

If you could get any vanity license plate for your car, what would it say? The owner of Sushi Bar would use “Dr Sushi” as indicated by the plates hung on the wall, it’s a whimsical touch I hadn’t noticed in the past, along with pictures of family and friends that provide a glimpse into their private lives.

The wall is also where they post their specials including black cod sushi and lobster maki. The black cod sushi ($10 for 2 pieces) is an interesting take on the fish, the nigiri torched tableside so the fish’s fat begins to melt forming slight layers in the cod. Being a denser fish, it does need a fair amount of flavour and while the sweet soy was a start, it needed something else for interest. After the experience, I’m still on the fence of whether a nigiri is the best use of this prized fish.

My preference is still for the baked miso marinated black cod ($15) where the fish is hot and flaky and infused with a slightly sweet umami flavour. The palm-sized portion is just enough for sharing amongst two people.

Sushi Bar’s other a-la-carte nigiri is just as good with large pieces of barbeque eel on the unagi and a thick slice of ruby red tuna on the maguro (both $7 for 2 pieces).

Displaying the lobster on top of the lobster roll ($18) was a great idea as it becomes the first thing you taste, and diners can see the full tail in its glory. However, it was already overcooked and blowtorching it at the table made it even more dry and chewy. Ideally, they should undercook it to begin, and the torching will help heat and finish off the doneness at the table. It’s a dish with promise and the thin cucumber lantern a great idea for a beautiful garnish.

Starting every meal is a bowl of rice crackers that arrives with drinks, a pre-pandemic tradition that I’m glad has been kept, providing something to snack on as we peruse the menu. A new addition is an amuse bouche of seafood, squid, and seaweed salads, enough for a bite each to enjoy while the rest of the meal arrives.

As the temperature drops, the complimentary starter is sometimes a rich hot bowl of miso soup with cubes of tofu and seaweed flakes. A welcomed respite after a cool walk to the restaurant.

With a variety of maki available, the black dragon ($17) was an interesting take on the fancier dynamite roll. In this case, sweet-glazed barbeque eel, tempura bits, fish roe, and green onion wrapped around the shrimp tempura. It’s a colourful creation offering a variety of textures and flavours and it’s ideal that the pieces aren’t overly large so that they are enjoyed in one bite.

The red dragon ($17) is just as good, substituting the barbeque eel for salmon instead. If you’re in the mood for shrimp tempura ($8 for 3 pieces), I’d recommend having it in maki-form as the fried shrimp by itself is underwhelming, the batter too thick and the temperature tepid at best.

Upsold to the tuna tartare roll ($10), we should have stuck with the tried-and-true spicy tuna ($8). In the tartare, the tuna too pulverized and the filling including dreaded tempura bits that causes the roll to become gummy. It also needs more heat to be considered spicy tuna.

Despite their name, Sushi Bar also makes a variety of non-sushi dishes. You get a hefty portion of hamachi kama ($19) with the full portion, a meaty cut of the fish’s jaw. A thicker cut, there were parts of the fish that could have been done a touch less but being a bone-in piece, it can be hard to gauge. Nevertheless, the skin was crispy and the fish hot and delicious. Served with a radish ponzu soy sauce, a bit more salt sprinkled onto the fish would help it pop.

Since our past visits, my husband and I noticed an improvement at Sushi Bar: the maki seemingly contains less rice and are cut to the perfect bite-sized pieces and more emphasis is placed on plating the izakaya-type dishes.

There’s also a host of regulars, stopping by the open kitchen to speak to everyone before departing the restaurant. This creates a cozy neighbourhood-feel to Sushi Bar that matches the photos adorning the walls. As Mr. Rogers sang, “A beautiful day for a neighbour. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?”

Overall mark - 7 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3365 Yonge Street


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Paluto Restaurant (Dubai)

Thank you to Parv for all these pictures!
Who would have thought that amongst a desert there are waterfront markets? Yet, that’s exactly what you’ll find in Deira in Dubai – a sprawling multi-wing facility where you can buy seafood from one area, vegetables and spices from another, and even find restaurants to cook the seafood for you along the waterfront.

It seemed like a novel idea and had us visiting Paluto Restaurant by Chef Boy Logro (a celebrity chef from the Philippines) one afternoon. In reality, the link to a well-known chef doesn’t seem like a necessity for a place where customer purchase their own ingredients, fish mongers clean it for them, and all the chefs do is cook it (either fried, grilled, or in soup form) for AED25/kg. Aren’t we all our own chefs at this point?

Patrons then wait around for an empty table and their food to be prepared. There’s a hunting-and-gathering feel to the meal, except I guess the hunting is fairly easy when it’s all laid out on ice and in tanks amongst the stalls. It’s a part of the meal that we skipped, since we didn’t visit the Waterfront Market early enough to source our own seafood.

Truth be told, I was glad we missed that part of the experience as seeing things swim and wriggle before breaking bread is the least of my desires. Plus, going after the general rush, meant there was no queue so we could sit and enjoy drinks (the serve yourself fountain pop variety) while we waited for the food preparation.

As the mixed seafood platters arrived – one tossed in lemon herb and the other in a sweet chili (both AED149), we started salivating at the combination of blue crabs, shrimp, and mussels. This was sure going to be a messy lunch that had some reaching for the plastic gloves.



The two sauces were so different – the lemon herb a bit too mild and needed more seasoning, while the sweet chili having a fiery heat that could be too much for some. Of the two, the chili drew me in and had me spooning the thick sauce over the unlimited rice that arrives with the meal. Still, the seafood itself was mediocre; while the shrimp were nice, the crab wasn’t cleaned properly (who leaves the gills on?) so there was a musky after taste and the mussels no different from the frozen variety found in supermarkets.

Personally, I preferred the simpler varieties. The deep-fried prawns (AED49 for 12) done with and without batter were delicious. A hot sweet nugget that I could have had a dozen to myself.



Even the grilled fish (AED149 for a large size) had potential… nice and meaty, but, sadly overcooked. The chili soy sauce on the side helped flavour and hydrate the fish a bit.


Perhaps the most surprising was the vegetable Hakka noodles (AED29), long chewy egg noodles tossed with julienned vegetables and enveloped in a lovely wok hay. They were so good that we added another order.


With fresh seafood, it’s smart to remember that simple is best. Dipped into hot oil or a faster lick on the grill is all you need. When in doubt, just remember K.I.S.S. – keep it simple, stupid.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: In the Waterfront Market (Al Khaleej Road)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Hishinuma 日本料理 菱沼 (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 5-17-1, Roppongi, Minato (in the Axis building B1 level)
Website: http://www.restaurant-hishinuma.jp/

Type of Meal: Lunch 

Hishinuma provides a tranquil environment against the busy Roppongi street with it being located on the basement level of the Axis Building. We had a particularly intimate experience, while visiting during the Christmas holidays, since we were only one of two tables. Upon arriving, there was no one at the door so we tentatively walked in and found the chefs preparing in the open concept kitchen. Luckily, they noticed us and shouted out greetings to alert the host (also the waiter for the day) to show us to our table.


Their lunch menu consists of three, four or five course options; we went with the four course version (¥5,000 per person). In reality, we received seven courses when it was all said and done. The first amuse bouche was a thick pumpkin mousse, the consistency of custard, with a rich savoury pumpkin taste. Granules of coarse sea salt were sprinkled at the bottom of the dish enhancing the natural sweetness from the squash.  

The second course was the most challenging of the meal for me - marinated cold sea snails. Personally, I’m squeamish when faced with bugs and lizards, so when the bowl of four of them were presented, my stomach dropped.  Luckily, they were cooked!  The hardest part of eating the dish was extracting the meat from the shell – a toothpick is given and you essentially need to stab it and rotate the shell until the snail is freed.  Honestly, they tasted decent having been marinated in a slightly sweet soy sauce.  The meat is firm and the texture and taste resembles abalone (another type of crustacean common in Asian cuisine). In the end, I was able to stomach three of the four. 

Arriving next was a simple braised daikon adorned with carrot slices and green onion slivers.  Upon lifting the lid, you get a whiff of smokiness that wasn’t present in the food itself. Poached in a relatively light consommé, the vegetables were soft but still held their shape.  It’s a nice neutral dish where the sharp green onion is what really adds any flavour. After the first two comparatively more flavourful dishes, this helped calm the taste buds prior to the sashimi course.

Kampachi (the red fish) and another unknown white fish comprised the sashimi and was my first experience in Japan.  The fish is firmer and has a more distinct flavour compared to the various sashimi I’ve had in Toronto. This could be on account of the freshness where restaurants regularly purchase the fish from the nearby Tsukiji fish market.  In fact, we were having great difficulties getting reservations after December 29th as Tsukiji was slated to close and move so specialized sushi restaurants ended up closing for the holidays as well.

Perhaps what I’ll miss most is the freshly grated wasabi we received adding heat to the tongue but not hitting your nose. Hishinuma’s soy sauce was also fairly neutral with neither saltiness nor sweetness being overly prevalent.

The steamed shrimp dumpling was my favourite dish of the meal. Although it was presented as a “dumpling” it was wrapperless with the shrimp paste being light as air with small pieces of shrimp mixed throughout to add texture. Accompanying was a light shoyu dipping sauce but was watered down so the sweetness of the shrimp still shone through. I would happily order this dish by itself again if I can ever find them elsewhere.

Alas, the final course is presented and you’ll know it’s the last as rice and soup arrive with it.

The fish was a beautifully grilled piece of yellowtail tuna (jaw portion of the fish); its skin was crispy while the meat tender and juicy with just the right amount of fat to give it flavour. The jaw portion is actually great for people who aren’t skilled with eating fish with bones as they are in large pieces so you won’t risk choking on anything. A plate of wasabi mixed with miso and marinated seaweed accompanied the fish for flavouring but I found the salt lightly coating the fish sufficient.

The miso soup also differed from the Toronto versions given it wasn’t overly salty and the paste didn’t settled or have any graininess to it. Moreover, it retained heat really well with plump soft mushrooms and herby leaves of some sort giving some meatiness to the soup.  

To end a hunk of strong coffee jello arrived in a sweet vanilla custard cream.  It was surprisingly flavourful compared to the natural tastes of all the previous courses. All in all, a good way to end the meal and helped ward off a food coma.

Dishes at Hishinuma may seem simple and understated (no heavy sauces or garnishes in sight) but it really allows the quality of the ingredients themselves to shine through.  Overall, I was pleased with my first Japanese style meal in Tokyo. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!