Miku Restaurant

Restaurant: Miku Restaurant
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi/Fusion
Last visited: March 29, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 1055 West Hastings Street
Price Range: $30-50

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 6
Service: 4.5
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 5.5
Additional comments:

**Recommendations: Any Aburi items (lightly flame seared sashimi), Washugyu Carpaccio, Premium Nigiri Sushi, Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, Miku Roll, Red Wave Roll, Una-kyu Roll, Chicken Nanban, Miku Zen, Chocolate Chestnut Slice, Blueberry Coconut Cream, Green Tea Opera, Pistachio-Saffron-Rose Ice Cream and Blueberry Lavender Sorbet. Sit at the bar if possible – best spot!

Miku Restaurant is part of the Tora Group which is a family owned Japanese restaurant group. They have 8 restaurants of similar style throughout Japan and Canada. Would it be fair to say they are the Glowbal Group of Japanese cuisine? Speaking for just Miku Restaurant, I’d say it’s a bit more high end than that though and they reach for a slightly more pretentious market… so yes, still somewhat an eat to be seen kind of place but the food is actually AMAZING. The design is beautiful and very typical of posh restaurants in LA but I found it a bit cold. The space was so open and the ceilings are so high… it’s very nice but also very corporate in a way.

Okay seriously nothing was under a 4/6. Everything was excellent and even if it wasn’t it was still great. Yes – I’ve only been there once, but that one time I’d say it could possible be one of my favourites and best restaurants in Vancouver – especially for authentic and traditional Japanese food with a contemporary twist. They’re known for Aburi sushi which means lightly flame seared sushi and it’s an open kitchen so you can see everything going on.

It’s casual fine dining and everything is fresh, made in house with a focus on local ingredients and prepared in small batches only when ordered. I really like Japanese Izakaya/fusion restaurants so I may be a bit biased but I will 100%  come again and recommend it. It’s not really tapas/izakaya focused like Kingyo, but it’s sushi/sashimi focused. This dinner was between 2 and I was incredibly stuffed but incredibly satisfied at the same time.

My experience at Miku Restaurant was slightly different than usual. I had tweeted “Going to Miku Restaurant for dinner” and I actually didn’t know they were falling me, but they caught it. So yes, the manager did come introduce herself and they did know about Follow Me Foodie. Hence why I can’t comment on the service. I was still treated like everyone else, everything was paid for, and there are no expectations from Miku Restaurant and everything written is honest as always.

I was having camera issues at the time so I apologize for the quality of the food photos.

On the table:

**Washugyu Carpaccio6/6

  • Washington Kobe beef flavoured with our Chef’s very own sweet soy sauce $19 (Chef’s Recommendation)
  • Washugyu beef is a beef from Washington that is a cross of Wagyu beef  from Japan and American Angus beef.
  • It was slices of lightly seared beef topped with a house made avocado sauce, sweet soy (specially made for Miku from Japan), a drizzle of olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper . Not to be missed!
  • I want to give this a 20/6. Seriously it was the highlight of the night and having it first just meant that everything had to rise to it’s standards – which is near impossible.
  • The meal wasn’t anti-climatic but this was definitely the orgasmic part of the night… and apparently it’s even better with Wagyu beef – which is not always in house. I didn’t think this dish could get any better!

  • The beef was pretty much butter. The fat was so well marbleized and it was so creamy especially with the avocado topping which was almost like avocado cream. The avocado was coarsely pureed with lots of quality olive oil and it was so creamy – no cream, but there might be melted butter.
  • The pieces were thicker than what I expected for carpaccio and I still barely had to chew it, it just melted in my mouth. It was like eating melted Brie it was so tender.
  • It was sweet, savoury, tangy, slight spice from black pepper and the avocado was so subtle I almost couldn’t tell it was avocado. It hit your taste buds at every single angle possible.

The row in the front is the Nigiri Sushi. I was having flash issues. (I’ll describe them below left to right)

**Premium Nigiri Sushi6/6

  • Chef’s selection of nigiri sushi (7 pieces) $22 (Chef’s Recommendation)
  • This is a dish that is made for me. I really like variety, creative exotic ingredients and that’s why I like tapas/izakaya/fusion places. This had it all.
  • It was 7 individually prepared, very unique and creatively designed pieces of premium nigiri sushi.
  • The best are the scallop, hamachi, ebi, and mackerel. I’d order this again because they were all amazing, but some were just more amazing than others.

  • The first 2 pieces from left to right:
    • Kanpachi (Amberjack): with chopped welsch onion (tastes like spicy radish), salt and black pepper. It tasted like fresh raw garlic, wasabi with freshly cracked black pepper. It had different levels of spiciness, but one dimensional in flavour. It’s a firmer type of sashimi.
    • **Makerel (Saba): with Miso and welsh onion. It tasted like it had a drizzle of tangy mayo with a nice salty sweetness from the miso. This one was just well flavoured and had that “what is that?” (in a good way) aspect to it.

  • The next 2 pieces from left to right:
    • Salmon: with sesame cream sauce. It tasted like a creamy sesame mayo. It could use more sesame sauce or maybe some salt. It was missing something – my least favourite of the bunch.
    • Maguro (Blue Fin Tuna): The quality of the maguro wasn’t great. It should be bright red like salmon.  It was a topping of onions in a soy, sesame oil and vinegar sauce. It looked like caramelized onions but the onions were raw and crunchy. It was spicy and oddly a bit bitter at the end. (The odd flavour was from the vinegar and sesame oil battling each other)

  • The last 3 pieces from left to right – theses were the best ones too!:
    • **Ebi: topped with basil cream sauce. This tasted Italian Japanese fusion to me. It tastes like alfredo or bechamel sauce. It was slightly baked or seared so it was great with the ebi! Cream + shrimp = good!
    • **Hamachi: with avocado sauce. The winner! the Hamahi sashimi is so rich, firm and buttery already and with the avocado sauce it was amazing! It was the same avocado sauce they used for the Washuguyu Carpaccio. That sauce makes everything!
    • **Scallop: with mentaiko sauce. This was amazing too! Mentaiko sauce is masago mixed with Japanese mayo. It had a little wasabi too. It was quite tangy and rich. The scallop was beautiful and so smooth. It reminds me of the Mentaiko Udon from Alpha Global Sushi & Bar
  • I rarely order nigiri sushi, but the sushi rice here is unlike any other I’ve tried. it’s the best sushi rice out there – it’s so flavourful.

Photo taken on later day.

**Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi 6/6

  • Local salmon pressed and dressed with our Chef’s own soy & MIKU sauce, topped with jalapeño $14 (Chef’s Recommendation)
  • This is THE most popular sushi roll. I loved it. The sushi here requires no soy sauce or wasabi. Eat as is.
  • Some pieces the rice was to fresh and soft though so it broke apart as I picked it up.
  • This was a sweeter roll. The salmon tastes like maple glazed salmon.
  • There was a nice balance of savoury and a nice bite of spicy from the crunchy jalapeno. It was very subtle though.
  • There is a a lot of rice in this pressed sushi, but the rice here is so good I didn’t mind.
  • I loved the freshly cracked black pepper, it just opened up all the flavours.
  • The Miku sauce is the white layer you see on top of the salmon. It tastes like baked Japanese mayo and it’s very creamy and slightly sweet as it was drizzled with the Chef’s own soy sauce.

MIKU Roll4.5/6

  • Salmon, uni (sea urchin), snow crab and cucumber rolled with tobiko & topped with MIKU Sauce $15 (Available seasonally) (Chef’s Recommendation)
  • This probably could have been a 6/6 if I didn’t order any of the items I gave 6/6 too. It just became a very good roll when compared to everything else. It’s another one of their popular rolls. Again it requires no soy sauce or wasabi.

  • I’ve never had a roll so crusted with tobiko. It was awesome! They seared the tabiko so it brought another flavour. It was super crunchy and nice and salty.
  • The roll is very fishy tasting though. A good fishy taste, but just be prepared.
  • There was so much going on the uni (sea urchin) got totally lost though. I couldn’t taste it unless I ate it alone. It’s extremely fishy tasting, slimy in texture with a salty bite.  Each piece had a piece the side of a big grape – it was in there but just masked.
  • The snow crab was so plentiful and nice and flaky and I liked the contrast in creamy and crunchy textures.
  • It had that baked creamy Miku mayo sauce again which added to the creaminess overall.
  • If you hear it being flame seared the tobiko makes popping noises!

Hamachi Shio Kama Yaki (Daily/Seasonal Special) – 4/6

  • Grilled Hamachi (Yellow Fin Tuna) neck/cheek with salt served with Ponzu sauce on the side with oroshi.
  • The cheek is the meatiest part of any animal and has the most flavour. It’s the most tender when cooked properly.
  • All I used was a squeeze of lemon and it didn’t even need the Ponzu sauce they served it with. It had so much flavour on it’s own because it was already lightly marinated with Japanese soy sauce.
  • Additionally it had the salt crust which was nice and crispy. I was surprised it wasn’t too salty and neither the soy or salt were overpowering. Overall it wasn’t an exciting dish for me though.
  • The grill marks brought a charcoal flavour but it wasn’t really smoky in taste. It was a firmer fish so a bit flaky and easy to overcook.
  • It was cooked a bit inconsistently – parts were extremely tender, juicy and moist and some parts I almost thought was undercooked to the point of mushy and soggy. This is not sashimi so it’s supposed to be cooked all the way.
  • The skin was the bet part – it was fatty and nice and juicy. It doesn’t have any bones because it’s cheek – so just one big surrounding bone.

Unagi Nigiri 4/6

  • About $3 each.
  • All the nigiri comes in aburi (lightly seared sashimi) and is about $.50 more.
  • This was a pretty massive piece of Unagi. It was very creamy with a very sweet Teriyaki like sauce/marinade.

  • It’s eel so there are bones but they’re so small you can chew right threw them. Eel is really rich, fatty and high in cholesterol so it’s almost like eating fish skin but fish skin is actually good for you.
  • It has some flaked fish texture but it’s mainly that slimy fish skin texture. I liked it though and this one was done really well.

Dessert

I’m actually really surprised that Miku Restaurant puts a focus on desserts. I love it! They have 2 pastry chefs – I don’t expect one let alone 2 pastry chefs for a non-dessert kind of place.

The dessert are really contemporary, but I which there was more of a Japanese influence. The only thing really Japanese was the Green Tea Tiramisu – it was a toss up between that and the Chestnut Cake – but I went with the more indulgent one. As full as I was there’s always room for dessert.

**Chocolate Chestnut Slice5.5/6

  • Layers of chocolate sponge infused with espresso, chestnut & milk chocolate pate, chocolate mousse & crunchy hazelnut wafer, served with chestnut/rum ice-cream & walnut nougatine cookies $12 (Chef’s Recommendation)
  • The description is bang on. It’s a pretty decent slice, but anymore than $12 I’d say it’s not worth it.
  • This is an excellent dessert and it’s shareable because it’s quite rich and decadent. It’s so creamy and dense but there’s so many textures you don’t get sick of it easily. It’s not as sweet as it looks – it’s very well done.
  • It tasted like a Ferrero Rocher in a gourmet mousse/cake form.

  • The bottom layer was the best. It was made of crushed up crispy hazelnut wafers and it was like the chocolate version of the Blueberry Pistachio cake I had from Bakery Nouveau – although that one was better.
  • The only reason why I didn’t give it 6/6 is because it didn’t represent the restaurant.
  • The texture is totally like pate more so than mousse. It was more cake than it was mousse.
  • The hazelnut made it not as sweet and the ice cream was so light that it broke everything up.
  • The ice cream had a slight bitter note which was probably the rum. It almost tasted like espresso ice cream.
  • It’s sweet, tangy, nutty, thick, tart with the raspberry, deep with the espresso, rich and light at the same time… that’s enough… now go try it!

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