Showing posts with label miso-marinated black cod. Show all posts
Showing posts with label miso-marinated black cod. Show all posts

Yuzu No Hana (Toronto)

Location: Toronto Canada
Address: 236 Adelaide Street West
Website:
http://www.yuzunohana.ca/

Type of Meal: Dinner


Our visit to Yuzu No Hana was to further develop our taste buds in preparation for a future visit to Japan.  We ordered to omakase menu to allow the chef to determine what is freshest and his best dishes in hopes of trying something we might have never ordered. Yuzu’s nine-course menu costs $80 a person and requires at least one-day notice for the restaurant to adequately prep the ingredients.  If you’re allergic or truly detest something don’t worry, they do ask for these ahead of time and will adjust the menu accordingly.


The first course was an shooter made with a raw oyster and quail egg, flavoured with ponzu (a citrusy vinaigrette) and garnished with uni (sea urchin), tobiko (fish roe) and green onions. Downing it in one shot, the oyster was a tad briny for my taste. But when the tastes from the other ingredients, most notably the green onion, kicked in it really wasn’t too bad.  The raw quail egg also needs some getting used to when the sliminess hits your tongue and raw yolk mixes into everything.  Overall, these textures are not my favourite but the other guests at my table thoroughly enjoyed it.


 


A platter of appetizers arrived next and had a beautiful autumn spirit to the decor.  Starting from the egg at the bottom right and going clockwise:
 
  • A steamed duck egg arrived with a portion of uni on top. Rather than eat the it separately, I mixed it into the custardy egg so that it added a thicker creamier texture to everything with just a hint of brininess. Expecting the uni to be very fishy, as I’ve heard like some Japanese ingredients it’s an acquired taste, I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty light and resembles tomalley (the greenish substance found in lobster) but thicker and slightly calmer tasting.
  • An emptied persimmon (a fruit popular amongst Asian countries) was filled with a cold boiled shrimp and piece of whitefish covered with a puffed rice coating.  Perhaps it’s because I tried this after the egg, but found both things bland.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the crispy whitefish, just wished it was salted a bit.  Perhaps, since it was served in a persimmon, a slice of the actual fruit could have been provided to add a hint of sweetness. 
  • The small unassuming piece of lightly battered lotus root tempura was one of my favourite parts of the platter.  Each hole in the lotus root was filled with tobiko so that the crunchiness was also mixed was some salty bursts of flavour.
  • Yuzu dressed up the typical cold and sweet seaweed salad with shredded crab meat (real), pickled baby cucumber slices and a deskinned cherry tomato. Thankfully, the delicate crab meat was left on top, rather than mixed into the salad, so that I could actually enjoy the natural sweetness of the crab. The seaweed was the darker variety and seems more natural than the spearmint green ones that other restaurants sometimes serve. 
  • Lastly, adorning the plate, threaded on a pine needle were ginnan (ginkgo seeds/nuts).  You may also know it as ginkgo biloba, a drug that supposedly helps with memory enhancement or the yellowish seeds found in congee or Chinese dessert broths.  Personally, they’re not something I enjoy as they have a slightly bitter taste.

 


When the teapot first arrived and was placed in front of us, we were intrigued.  Inside was a Japanese soup called dobin mushi (translates to teapot steamed) commonly served in the colder months.  We were advised that unlike most soups, this is not boiled but rather infused and steeped to allow the ingredients let off their flavours.  On the side is a small cup and you enjoy the soup by pouring out small portions of it into the cup and drinking it (much like tea). 
The broth is a clear golden colour with a rich earthy seafood taste from the ingredients (matsutake mushroom, shrimp, whitefish and gingko nut).  The server suggested drinking all the broth first and then opening up the lid and eating the ingredients.  We of course obliged but really the star is the soup as the shrimp becomes powdery and matsutake mushrooms lack flavour.  Only the piece of whitefish was delectable and still had a tender flakey texture.


 


Next, a beautifully presented plate of sashimi arrived.  During our visit it was made up of fluke, yellow tail, horse mackerel and salmon with caviar.  The fluke was a delicate tasting white fish with each slice adorned with a small piece of gold leaf (in the picture just barely visible from behind the large leaf); I quite like the lightness of the fish and the relatively non-fleshy texture.  On the leaf were two thicker slices of yellowtail which has a unique harder consistency akin to a cross between fish and conch.  The horse mackerel, beside the salmon rose, was decent and I’m glad this was thinner as it’s a stronger tasting fish that may be overpowering if the slices were larger. 


 


Following is one of my favourite Japanese dishes – roasted miso glazed gindara (a.k.a. black cod or sablefish). The plump fish was marinated for two days in miso and merin then slow roasted until the meat flakes apart yet retains its juicy tenderness.  Due to the marinating process, the fish was so well flavoured that the flavours permeated the meat rather than being slathered on through a sauce.  Yuzu’s gindara is one of the best I’ve eaten and may have just overtook my top spot (previously held by Blowfish).   A bright fuchsia green onion, coloured from pickling, sits on top adding décor and also acting as a palette cleanser.


 


A slice of panko crusted rack of lamb arrived next which is atypical of Japanese cuisine.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way the lamb’s thin layer of fat mixed into the panko crumbs to form a robust crust. It’s just a shame that the lamb was so overdone that the meat was starting to get tough and slightly dry from a lack of juices.  A chanterelle mushroom and braised mini daikon accompanied the meat (daikon needed some salt) with several edible flowers tossed on top to finish.


 


The last savoury course was five pieces of nigri sushi. My favourite piece was the tempura salt-water eel (first piece on the left) which was plump and tender with slivers of creamy avocado, the most modern of five.  Salmon was presented two ways – one a leaner cut of king salmon while the other a fattier belly lightly blow torched and topped with pickled onion.  Being a big fan of the heated fattier fishes, I loved the salmon belly and the smoky pickled taste. 

Kampachi, a dense white fleshed fish like white tuna, was served chopped up and mixed with tobiko (?) on top of rice wrapped in egg.  This is certainly inventive and a nice combination of the tamagoyaki (egg sushi) with fish.  Lastly, more of the delicious delicate fluke was served.  The rice itself wasn’t very memorable, unlike the amazing experience at Solo Sushi Ya, but what makes Yuzu’s nigri shine is the variety of flavours and textures used in the ingredients topping the sushi. If the restaurants could combine Solo’s rice with Yuzu’s toppings my ideal sushi would be created!


 


For dessert a square of sake cheesecake was presented.  The cheese was smooth and light but the flavours still quite strong with hints of sake flooding through. 




Our visit to Yuzu definitely fulfilled the purpose of trying new things; this was my first experience with the dobin mushi, uni, horse mackerel, kampachi and fluke.  If any of the above sound delicious to you, I urge you to make reservations and go soon as menus change seasonally and these dishes may soon disappear.  But, if you’re an adventurous person and are opened to trying new things then there’s no rush. Half the fun is sometimes not knowing what you’ll eat; after all, it’s through tasting menus that we may learn we like something we’ve never heard of. 



Overall mark - 9 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!






CLOSED: Blowfish (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 333 Bay Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

Blowfish’s roasted miso-marinated black cod with sautéed seasonal greens ($28) is certainly why I keep going back.  It’s simply one of the tastiest miso black cods I've had in Toronto. Cooked perfectly that it flakes apart with the slight touch and yet still soft and moist. Undeniably, what I love most is the sweet caramel consistency miso sauce smeared on the plate beside the cod.  It’s so flavourful and acts as a dip for the patron to add as much or as little as they feel appropriate. If you’d like to try this without the $28 price tag, go at lunch – you’ll receive the same dish but with one piece instead of two while the price decreases to $14.

Off of the seasonal menu we ordered the binnaga-maguro ceviche.  Diced pieces of albacore tuna, avocado, veggies and pine nuts are marinated with a jalapeño yuzu sauce then served on a Tostito sized crispy taro chip ($18).  I didn’t hate it, but it wouldn’t be something I’d order again.  The tuna was marinated for so long that the texture was sort of chewy.  Additionally, something about the marinade made it taste with salted dried cod fish, not exactly what you look for in a ceviche.

Another highlight for Blowfish is their interesting non-traditional makimono rolls.  The brown-eyed pea ($9) is one of my favourites.  It’s pretty simple - crispy thin spears of asparagus and thinly sliced snow peas all wrapped in dark brown rice rolled in sesame seeds.  The contrast of the chewy rice and crispy asparagus is great.  The brown rice’s texture is also my preferred consistency as I find the white rice rolls can be a little gluey sometimes. Spicy sauce sits on the plate for you to add as you wish.

What we ordered: A simple spicy salmon roll ($10).  Unlike most restaurants the salmon isn’t chopped up into little pieces then mixed with tempura bits and sauce.  I like that each roll incorporates a whole piece of salmon and that the tempura bits aren’t overwhelming.  Nonetheless, the sauce is too mild to truly be considered spicy and would prefer if they kicked it up a bit.

An alternative I’d recommend from past meals: Spicy tuna on crispy sushi rice ($17).  The soft tuna paired with domino sized crispy rice cakes is a great combination.  Also, they top each piece with a thin slice of jalapeño providing the heat I like when you order a spicy roll.

What we ordered: Spicy rock shrimp tempura style ($20).  It was disappointing; the shrimp although looking quite large was really a large piece of batter and ends up feeling like you’re eating a chicken ball.  The spicy sauce is essentially the same as all the other dishes so wasn’t flavourful enough.  The only dish we ordered that had leftover pieces.

An alternative I’d recommend from past meals: If you really want to try the spicy rock shrimp, order their spicy tuna with rock shrimp roll instead ($18).  It’s essentially a spicy tuna roll with a rock shrimp on top.  Perhaps it’s because they have to make the spicy rock shrimp smaller so that it sits on the roll or maybe it’s due to them not being stacked on each other and getting soggy, but the spicy rock shrimp doesn’t taste as bad. 
During dinner, you are also treated with a complimentary dish of edamame for the table which is wonderfully warm and sea salt coated.
I also tried their watermelon mint sake sangria ($16) made with prosecco, watermelon and passion fruit juice and tons of fresh mint.  It was a tasty but mild drink – since you couldn’t taste the alcohol, in the end, the drink tasted like you’re having fruit juice with mint leaves.  With the hefty price tag, I’d rather skip the sangria and stick with wine next time.
Normally, I go to Blowfish for lunch.  This time we went after work and found the service, although friendly and attentive, to be too much.  After all our dishes were served, a waiter would come by every 10 minutes to ask if we were okay.  If that weren’t enough, each time they would try to clear away a plate – most of the time the dish still had a piece of food on it!  This left us either scrambling to take the last piece or just asking them to leave it.  Restaurants should take note, if a table has a dish that still has food on it and looks like they are still eating - don’t clear the plate.  I guess during lunch hours the duration of the meal is limited so we appreciate the fast service, but during dinner I find this element slightly annoying.

Overall mark - 8* out of 10
However, the roasted miso-marinated black cod itself would get a 9!


____________________________
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!
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