Showing posts with label mousse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mousse. Show all posts

Minami (Vancouver)


Prior to my meal at Minami, I did realize it was the sister restaurant of Miku. What I discovered that evening was that the restaurants were named after the daughters of the owner – is he the father-of-the-year or what?

While Miku is known for their flame-licking aburi creations, Minami’s inventiveness goes beyond the blowtorch and into how dishes are visually presented. We decided to see the restaurant in action with their Minami Shokai tasting menu ($150) and a premium sake flight ($35), which we hoped would sip well with all the food.

Slices of miso duck arrive laid on a slightly stale and hard puff pastry, which does little to add to the dish other than make it look more substantial. The duck breast, just cooked through, was a lovely balance of meat & fat and the miso just enough to give it flavour. It’s an interesting choice to start with such a strong protein, yet when paired with fruits helps lighten the dish.

Traditions are certainly thrown out the window as sushi comes before sashimi, six eye-catching pieces of it. The lovely creations take time to prepare, so the rice arrives too cold (and could benefit from more vinegar). I guess you don’t go to Minami for the rice, instead the gold leaf that caps the chu toro, a delicious and lovely show piece.

Personally, I prefer the simpler sushi: the bit of yuzu jelly and wasabi used with the kani helped bring out the crab’s natural flavours without too much fuss; and while the kinmedai was a bit chewy the fish was nonetheless refreshing against some of the heavier pieces.

Minami should consider blowtorching the wagyu tableside as it’s not the greatest cold and I’d skip the uni unless it’s a great quality as it added a slight metallic taste to the sushi. While sampling the surf and turf roll, all I could taste was orange and seaweed so sadly neither of the main elements really shone. Luckily, the bite of salmon maki helped end the dish on a higher note.

Their saikyo-miso sakekasu (try saying that three times fast) marinated sablefish was divine and I liked that other than a dollop of caviar they left the fish sauceless. I’d suggest having the fish first and leaving the “sides” until the end - the honey glazed endive goes nicely with the dish, while the way too oily shiso tempura does not.

You must love the presentation of the sashimi as the billowing dry ice flows around all the fish. Luckily, the seafood was fresh as well and the tuna always a lovely treat. Minami ever so briefly chars the cuttlefish before adding the pops of juicy roe and while this goes fine with soy sauce it would excel with a thicker sauce. Finally, I liked the fresh sweet spot prawn and their use of the entire shrimp as the deep-fried head was crispy as heck and the perfect nibble to end.

The A5 Japanese wagyu stole the show! While it could have been seasoned a little less, the wagyu was so buttery and decadent that I didn’t want the bites to end. Luckily, Minami isn’t stingy with the prized beef, you receive a decent quantity of steak and quite a few sides as well - a lovely crispy potato pave (layers of potato baked) and roasted heirloom carrots.

As a palate cleanser we are brought a plum sorbet popsicle with tart sparkling water… I had the sorbet but skipped the much too fizzy water, give me sake any day.

Despite detesting Bounty bars, the coconut mousse with chocolate was a lot better than I expected. Placed into an impossibly thin chocolate shell, the dessert certainly looked like a coconut and the light mouse and dark chocolate went rather nicely together.

Interesting elements like the house-made coconut noodles were delicious and I could see them using them in a dessert ramen, which could tie-in the Japanese tradition of ending tasting menus with a bowl of noodles. Note to chef: feel free to borrow this idea!

Another reason to visit Minami is their awesome location in Yaletown. What an ideal street to be on with the all the bars and patios, a great way to start and/or end the meal. Whatever happens, when you’re going for the shokai experience, go big or go home. 


Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Vancouver, Canada
 Address: 1118 Mainland 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!


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CLOSED: Bent revisited for Winterlicious (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 777 Dundas Street West
Type of Meal: Dinner


My first visit to Bent was back in late 2012, close to its opening.  I was pleased with my experience and their strongly flavoured dishes (read review here) with only complaints being on their service (not changing plates and offering serving utensils).


While revisiting Bent for their 2014 Winterlicious menu ($35 for three courses), they were as busy as ever.  Service continues to be friendly and helpful with our waitress providing point on descriptions of the dishes and stepping in quickly to address some spilt wine. The food was enjoyable still incorporating Susur’s bold Asian European fusion flavours and was somewhat sharable small plate formats.

The black pepper charred salmon arrives with a side of spicy salmon tartare, a nice contrast to the calmer seared pieces. Both were very different with the slices cooked with just a simple sear and a pepper/dill crust.  Topped with crème fraiche, a fennel relish, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and a dill vinaigrette there was a certainly a host of different textures and flavours. All in all, it works but a bit too much dill for my taste as I found the piece on the right of the plate (away from the vinaigrette) a better combination.



Meanwhile, the salmon tartare is similar to their “tartare two ways” offering with a smooth salmon paste mixed with crunchy shallots, more dill and something briny.  A nice amount of heat is incorporated into the mixture and gave it a punch. I’ll admit, it tastes much better on top of a crispy sushi rice cake, the salty potato chips doesn’t work quite as well.

My friend and I split our mains as the shrimp ravioli and short rib cannelloni both sounded delicious. The shrimp ravioli was an impressively presented dish with a lot going on.  The ravioli is made exactly how I like it, a higher filling to dough ratio, with light wonton skins acting as the dough and a sweet peppered shrimp paste as the filling. Nicely seared scallops topped the ravioli and rice cake / creamed swiss chard combination while a seafood tofu (?) medallion rounds off everything. All in all, this is the dish to have if you’re not going to share as there’s enough going on within it to keep things interesting and really showcases what Susur does best – mixing different ingredients, textures and flavours.




I apologize for the disheveled looking short rib cannelloni … I forgot to snap the picture before it was split. If you’re planning to share mains with someone else, my suggestion is to have the other dish first and leave this until the end. The cannelloni is filled with robust flavours – tender pulled short rib, a rich red pepper and garlic gravy and some parsley (?) puree and gorgonzola cream. It’s a much heavier dish and reminded me of eating an enchilada. Overall, was good but, in my opinion, not as well constructed as the intricate shrimp ravioli dish… so definitely share to avoid disappointment.   


The dessert course was a nice surprise – you don’t have to choose as you get them all! But, unlike the three dishes listed on the Winterlicious menu, it’s actually two things with the panna cotta and chocolate mousse merged into one. The table’s unanimous favourite was the crispy hot apple purse.  A cinnamon apple mixture is wrapped into a crispy phyllo pastry and topped with a warm caramel and cool cream. This is a delicious take on apple pie! Personally, I love desserts that incorporate a hot and cold element so this did not disappoint.


On the other hand, the panna cotta and mousse was a bit too much.  With jarred desserts I usually dig right into the bottom to make sure each spoonful incorporates all the different layers of flavours, but this one just had way too much going on. At the top is a chocolate coriander mousse topped with puffed rice, which if by itself would have been quite nice with the combination of smooth mousse and crunch rice bits. The bottom half was a vanilla panna cotta topped with an apricot preserve and raspberry coulis; also had potential to be quite refreshing if served on its own.  Together though, the dessert is the chocolate and fruit blend I detest and the coriander chocolate actually added a bitter tinge to the dish. My suggestion … split this dessert into a trio; I think it would work much better.


Is Winterlicious worth it?

As a special feature to the Winterlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).

Winterlicious - $35

Regular menu - $52 - Charred salmon ($16), shrimp ravioli ($26) and dessert* ($10)

Savings - $17 or 33%

* The dessert price based on similar items in the menu.

Overall mark - 7.5 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!