Why Minami makes an excellent choice to go for a dinner date?
- Great ambience. Modern and upscale decor. Professional service.
- The food. Unique, fusion, beautifully presented. While a place like this may seem to serve not so authentic sushi at small portions, you can count on Minami serving delicious creations with excellent quality control. If you're not happy, a manager will always make sure you are.
- Price is higher but still affordable, be expected to drop at least over $100 for 2 people.
-Good selections of exotic cocktails and wine.
Conclusion: It's a great place to impress someone with your excellent taste in fine foods. You can chat about whatever over sushi and cocktails creates a sexy mood. Meanwhile you can try to flex your knowledge in Japanese cuisine.
And now food and drinks in review.
Finding shiso in Vancouver is just as rare as finding really fresh uni. So, I was impressed that fresh shiso is used in many dishes and coctails at Minami. I ordered shiso mojito, a Japanese version with muddled shiso leaves and soju, which was really refreshing. It took me back to memories of drinking shiso umeshu in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
The first drink P ordered also had a shiso leaf in it, but she absolutely couldn't stand the taste. She was recommended to try Pacific Pimm's, sake cocktail infused with elderflower. She loved it. There was no 'cough syrupy taste' in there.
The very first dish we had was Miso baked duck breast with watercress, ginger braised carrots, potato fondant, oranges. The duck breast had a sweet glaze, slightly salty. The meat was plump, slightly charred and smoky. We would've liked it more medium rare or tender. I liked it with the oranges but no one else seemed to care for it.
Next up, shiso mojito watermelon with citrus cured scallops, goat cheese, pickled celery and micro greens. The shiso was present, but discrete. The watermelon and goat cheese came together in a weird 'opposites attract' phenomenon which I can't figure out who was the first person who figured these 2 could work together. The flavours came nicely all together. But because there were so many competing textures and flavours, the scallops unfortunately got lost in this dish. I couldn't even tell I was eating it along with everything else. The last bite of the watermelon I tasted a strong alcohol saturation. It was a pleasant surprise and I wonder why not all the watermelon pieces were as saturated.
Like its sister restaurant, Miku, Minami also thrives on the same specialty; aburi, flame-seared sushi. Their "no wasabi no soy sauce" concept at a Japanese restaurant was what I viewed as inconceivable before I set foot inside the restaurant.
There was no way I was going to enjoy my sushi or rolls without at least wasabi!?!
Alas, I got my head out of the concrete bubble and went in open minded to see what Minami has to offer.
We read about the Aburi beef, the Minami experience. It is described as aged premium Angus beef, thinly sliced. I might add that, when they say "beautifully marbled and tender" on the menu, there was no false advertisement there. We tried both the carpaccio and the Minami roll. It is absolutely everything they described and much more, definitely an indulging experience.
Aburi carpaccio, pictured above, was by far one of the most memorable and unique beef carpaccio variation I have come across to date. Strong words. But the difference definitely lies in the beef, which was so tender, there's no other word but 'delicious' to describe it. The other components of the carpaccio just added to it. Sweet and crisp Asian pear and lotus chips added nice crunch. Arugula was a great choice and it was great with the zesty jalapeno-garlic ponzu. The poached egg, I believe the server mentioned it was sous-vide. At any rate, it wasn't too runny but thick enough to bind everything nicely together into a thicker sauce.
|Sushi chef aburi-ing it up|
Before I could get over how good that plate of carpaccio was, our trio of rolls arrived. They were a good size, not too large or small, and beautifully presented. My mouth watered over more aburi beef.
On the far left, we had the Pacific roll which was pretty good. The albacore tuna was lightly seared with a refreshing dab of avocado sauce on top. I couldn't really taste the shiso, but with this roll, I wanted wasabi to go with it.
The Minami roll, aburi beef short rib with spicy prawn and topped with wasabi masatake (soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil). The short rib was more marbled that the carpaccio, which means it had more tender fatty part. The texture of the beef was already to die for. The bit of sauce on top of the roll and spicy prawn were awesome flavour boosters, like adding more crowd to the party. I enjoyed every bite of that roll.
We also tried Miku's famous Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi which everybody always raved about. it was simplistic, yet it was our number one pick that night. The torched top layer of salmon was smokey with the texture literally melted in my mouth. The Miku sauce was some kind of seasoned mayo/aioli. The pressed sushi was layered with a fresh piece of salmon. The one slice of jalapeno was a nice kick. I could've used wasabi and soy sauce here again, but...I didn't feel I need to. The sushi rice was also really well seasoned to be enjoyed on its own. Wow, the liberation... It was an eye opening experience with a mouthful of happiness.
Just when I thought my minds couldn't have been more blown away that night, we added Miku roll to the table. It had typical maki ingredients; flying fish roe, salmon, crab and uni. But, darn it, just because it had the special Miku sauce and it was torched, it was also one of the best rolls ever. It was creamy, smoky, and just heavenly. There was also a lot more crunch from all the popping flying fish roe. There was less rice than then pressed sushi so it's not as heavy on the stomach.
To end things off, we ordered just one dessert to share, the strawberry rhubarb charlotte. The strawberry mousse cake was light and fluffy. Under it was a layer of chocolate chip spongecake. Along side was a raspberry sorbet, rhubarb compote, fresh berries and whipped cream. It was a nice finishing dessert that wasn't too sweet, and more tart and refreshing.
Lessons of the day:
Minami/Miku serve almost everything torched.
Anything torched tastes good here.
Always order Aburi carpaccio, Minami roll, Aburi salmon oshi sushi and Miku roll all to self.