Miku Restaurant – Review 2

Restaurant: Miku Restaurant
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Last visited: December 16, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 1055 West Hastings Street
Price Range: $30-50, $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:

  • Part of the Tora Corporation (Family owned Japanese restaurant group)
  • Authentic Japanese techniques with contemporary twists
  • Trendy/Posh/Contemporary
  • Fusion/Creative recipes
  • Upscale Japanese dining
  • Best spot: At the bar
  • Specializes in aburi (lightly seared) & sushi
  • Daily specials, fresh sheets
  • Seasonal menu
  • Perfect sushi rice
  • Omakase available – (Chef’s Choice menu) from $60/person
  • Exotic Japanese ingredients
  • Open kitchen
  • In house pastry chef
  • Global wine list/Specialty sakes
  • Oceanwise
  • Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm
  • Sat 5pm-10pm
  • Closed Sunday
  • Miku Restaurant – Visit 1/Review 1
  • Miku Restaurant – Visit 3/Review 3

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

Simply put, I am a huge fan. I love Miku. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver whether it’s for Japanese fine dining or just fine dining in general. They call it casual fine dining, but after everything is said and done, it does add up. It’s also located in the business district of downtown, Vancouver, but I still think it’s generally worth it for most items and the overall experience.

I’ve been here a few occasions and I’ve been in love with it since the first day I tried it – see here. I actually came for lunch this time and I decided to “rate” the service, because unlike the other times I actually don’t think the staff was aware of the whole Follow Me Foodie gig. The service, atmosphere, and quality of ingredients are top notch and a good portion of the seafood is Ocean Wise, minus a few specialties. I’ve never been disappointed with the food yet, and if anything there are just some things that are better than others.

Miku specializes in Aburi sushi, which is seared sushi, and it’s an open kitchen so you can see all the action take place. It offers contemporary fusion sushi rolls and authentic aburi sushi with creative sauces. The menu is seasonal with some classic Miku favourites, and everything is always fresh, innovative. I also happen to think the idea of fusion works incredibly well in Japanese cuisine. Miku masters the idea and it’s one of the best in town from what I’ve tried thus far.

All the Japanese chefs are highly skilled and trained in their craft and it shows in the creation and execution of the food. I can tell you for a fact that the sushi rice is weighed to the gram to match the exact amount of aburi sashimi used for the sushi. For me, the sushi rice is definitely the best in I’ve had in terms of quality, texture, and flavour. It’s basically a restaurant totally catered to my taste buds since I’m all for trying new things and I’ve always left happy and fully satisfied.

PS: Don’t miss out on dessert. They have 2 in house pastry chefs which is impressive for a restaurant of this style. They do a fantastic job creating original Miku fusion desserts. They also have good desserts at Zest Japanese Cuisine as well.

On the table:

Soba Pepperoncino 3/6

  • Buckwheat noodles, pan-fried with olive oil, soy based sauce, garlic, and tossed with squid, bell peppers, jalapenos, and topped with tempura bits $11
  • I can’t say I cared too much for this dish. I do love Soba noodles, but it’s hard to find hand made ones in Vancouver since it’s such a labour intensive noodle.
  • Anyways, the one here is good, but just nothing too special compared to everything else. It kind of reminds me of a Chinese stir-fry noodles with a hint of chili spice that comes afterward.
  • The highlight of the dish was definitely the incredibly tender rings of squid. They were so fresh, soft and easy to chew with a nice nuttiness from the searing.
  • The noodles are al dente, but I could taste the sticky oil coating, although it wasn’t dry or greasy.
  • The tempura topping was a nice addition, but they weren’t crispy. They did add a nice feathery texture to the overall dish though. It would have even been better if they mixed these tempura batter crumbs with crispy deep fried garlic.

King Roll3.5/6

  • Fried tiger prawn, avocado, snow crab roll with tobiko, and chilli-mayo sauce $10
  • I wasn’t expecting the roll to come out so small. I thought this was a bit steep, although somewhat expected.
  • The roll itself was made with great ingredients with perfect sushi rice, however besides the sauce it wasn’t really that creative. It reminded me of a shrimp salad sandwich made into a sushi roll.
  • It’s quite a creamy roll with the avocado and the creamy sauce, so it was good to have that crunchy prawn tempura part.
  • I can’t say I was a big fan of the sauce. It tasted like a sweet Thousand Island dressing made with tangy Japanese Mayo. It reminded me of that sauce Guu serves with their Pumpkin Croquette and I’m just not too crazy about it.

**Unakyu Roll5.5/6

  • Fried unagi, with cucumber roll, topped with Japanese peppers (sansho) and 7 spices (shichi-mi), with BBQ unagi sauce $10
  • There were 2 pieces with Japanese chili seasoning and then 2 pieces with Japanese lime sea salt. I had the one with the lime sea salt.
  • I thought this was great! It’s a great balance of sweet and savoury and then the hint of salt really brought out all the flavours. The lime was so obvious as little as there was, but it just really accentuated the freshness of all the ingredients. The lime salt just made everything come alive.
  • It was served with a sweet and savoury unagi sauce and I love the crispiness of the batter with the flakiness of the moist and tender eel and then the refreshing crunch of cucumber.
  • The sushi rice shines through a lot in this dish, but in a good way, and you can really taste how well flavoured it is. I said it in my first post for Miku, but I’ve never enjoyed sushi rice as much as I do here.

Chirashi Tart4.5/6

  • Sockeye salmon and avocado layered, on top is shrimp, scallop, ikura, with tobiko. Miku sauce, lightly seared and drizzled with BBQ unagi sauce. About $15?
  • This was very enjoyable if you got a good ratio of all the ingredients. However if you only got part of the rice and some avocado, it was underwhelming.
  • This was Miku’s own version of Chirashi which is “scattered” or assorted sahsimi on sushi rice. This was almost like a bowl of sushi made into a tower.
  • It’s pretty much a layered California roll at its very best with a decent of sashimi over top and in between.
  • Usually with Chirashi I’m stuck with a lot of boring rice at the end, but in this case the rice is delicious, so you want to eat all of it! It’s perfectly seasoned and perfect in texture as well.
  • The Miku sauce and unagi sauce was their unique twist which tastes good on everything.

  • It had lots of tobiko and ikura (salmon roe) and other raw seafood: hotate (scallop), ebi (shrimp), salmon and then underneath was covered with a nice layer of baked Miku sauce.
  • The Miku sauce is the famous thing here and I’m pretty confident in saying that it’s made with eel oil and eel fat. It’s slightly fishy, creamy, a bit oily, slightly sweet and just so incredibly indulgent and rich. I love it, pretty much everyone does.
  • The avocado puree added a nice creaminess and it was almost like a Asian guacamole because it was dressed in what I think might be a ponzu sauce.
  • I also love the detail of freshly cracked black pepper that added subtle hints of aromatic spice in between bites. It enhanced the smoky flavour in the baked Miku sauce and even brought out more of that eel taste which I SWEAR is in the sauce. I’m telling you, I have pretty trained taste buds by now 🙂
  • I could have used more variety for the sashimi, but I would take this modern version of a chirashi over a traditional one if it was using the same sashimi.

Miku Zen – 5/6

  • A selection of seasonal items chosen by our traditionally trained Chef’s: 4 items from our kitchen, 6 pieces from our sushi bar & miso shiru – $23
  • This is one of their “bento boxes” and if you’re dining solo it will give you a good sample of a few Miku favourites.
  • The Chicken Nanban and Aburi Tuna with Matsatake Sauce are standard on the Miku Zen and the other two items change daily.

NimonoSeared Tofu, Salmon & Nugget Taro Potato – 4.5/6

  • Nimono (simmered dishes) consisting of aburi tofu, fried sockeye salmon, and taro potato.
  • The tofu was a bit coarse in texture because it was a firmer tofu and the inside actually reminded me of eggs. It was quite soft and it had a nice sear on the outside.
  • The salmon looked really dry, but it actually wasn’t. It was quite tender, soft and juicy, but it did have some help from the savoury sweet marinade.
  • The little round ball hiding behind the salmon was actually a ball of creamy taro. It was delicious! it was super creamy and soft inside and it totally tastes like that Korean potato appetizer they serve you for free at the beginning of your meal. It’s nice and has a coating of sweet soy sauce sugar syrup.
**Chicken Nanban – 5/6
  • Fried chicken soaked in nanban vinegar then topped with original tartar sauce with cabbage coleslaw on the bottom.
  • It’s not crispy crunchy “good for the batter” fried chicken, but good for the chicken fried chicken! It’s barely battered and still delicious!
  • I thoroughly enjoyed these little, but plump fillets of incredibly tender juicy deep fried chicken. It was so soft that the chicken reminded me of tofu in texture.
  • It was almost sponge like and they must tenderize it in the nanban vinegar quite a bit before deep frying it.
  • The tartar sauce is quite thin and I don’t know if I would call it a tartar sauce although it is tangy and creamy.
  • I loved the cabbage slaw underneath which was dressed in a house made Pesto sauce. I could really taste the basil and herbs and it was nice and salty. This pesto sauce mixed with the tartar sauce was a wicked combination and great with the tangy, savoury, sweet chicken.
  • The only thing is that the sauce ended up making the chicken a bit soggy so the batter isn’t crispy, although still nice and thin.

Aburi Tuna with Masatake Sauce – 3/6

  • Seared albacore tuna with Masatake Sauce (which is onions, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil).
  • I remember this being part of their Premium Aburi Sushi platter that I love so much.
  • This was incredibly smokey in flavour and it’s mainly due to the aburi execution.
  • I could taste lots of sesame oil in the dressing and I do wish the tuna was cut a bit thicker to expose more of its flavour.
  • The combination of the crunchy Welch onion dressed in a tangy sweet sesame soy dressing and the charcoal Aburi flavour actually created a slight bitterness.
  • The crunchy onions aren’t spicy and they’re not caramelized either, but almost naturally bitter as well. They’re only sweet from the sauce.
  • It was almost like a Japanese onion relish, but it kind of overwhelmed the tuna at times although delicious.

Goma-ae2/6

  • In house original sesame sauce tossed with broiled veggies.
  • This is probably the lowest I’ll ever give Miku, and it’s not even like it was that bad. It didn’t taste like goma-ae at all.
  • It was a mix of shave asparagus, carrots and Napa cabbage marinated in a tangy vinaigrette and I didn’t get any flavours of sesame dressing or nuttiness for that matter.
  • I could taste sesame oil, but not that nutty semi-creamy traditional sesame paste they use for goma-ae.
  • I kind of felt like I was eating the bottom of a salad and it’s kind of plated that was too.

This is the aburi sushi portion of the Miku Zen.

A few of these aburi nigiri sushi are featured on their Premium Nigiri Sushi plate, and for some reason I think they taste better on that plate. I just find there’s a bit more effort in the execution when it’s on the Premium Nigiri Sushi platter – see here.

You’re supposed to eat it left to right in order of richness and flavours and I would have swamped the hamachi and the albacore tuna. I know I sound really picky right now, but I know Miku standards and I know that the chef’s plate things very specifically with intentions in mind.

Hamachi (Tuna) with Avocado Puree – 4.5/6

  • This is one of my favourites and it’s part of my usual Premium Aburi Nigiri Sushi platter.
  • It’s creamy, rich and indulgent with the buttery hamachi and almost melted avocado puree. I also loved the salty black pepper seasoning on top.

Ebi with Basil Miku Sauce – 4.5/6

  • This was quite smoky in flavour with a creamy and savory rich Miso mayo that’s more like an aioli.
  • The Miku sauce is mixed with a basil pesto-like sauce and it’s very buttery, savoury and a bit sweet.
  • This tasted Italian Japanese fusion to me. It tasted like a seafood alfredo or bechamel sauce mixed with a hint of pesto.
  • The famous Miku sauce is almost like a very rich and fishy tasting aioli (in a very good way). It’s ultra creamy, and I’m almost 100% sure there is some eel oil/fat in it. When it’s seared it becomes smoky, aromatic and almost nutty and sweet.

Albacore Tuna with Miso Sauce – 3/6

  • This one is a bit forgettable and not as strongly flavoured as the other ones.
  • I could still taste the smokiness from the aburi searing and the miso sauce is heavy with the miso paste and quite creamy and savoury.
  • I think it should have been placed first on the platter leading into the heavier cream sauces.

**Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi6/6

  • 2 pcs
  • Local salmon pressed & dressed with our Chef’s own soy & Miku sauce, topped with jalapeño.
  • It’s a creamy, savoury, rich, buttery and moist salmon with 2 levels of spice coming at you with the freshly cracked black pepper and slight crunch of jalapeño.
  • The fishiness of the seared salmon was blended with a smoky charcoal flavour and it was extra buttery, rich and indulgent with the seared Miku sauce.
  • The famous Miku sauce is almost like a very rich and fishy tasting aioli. It’s ultra creamy, and I restate that I’m almost 100% sure there is some eel oil/fat in it. When it’s seared it becomes smoky, aromatic and almost nutty and sweet.
  • I could taste every layer of ingredient including every crumb of black pepper. Each bite was a perfect balance and harmony of flavours.
  • It’s a creamy buttery texture and the rice is chewy, flavourful and moist and the whole thing just melts in your mouth.

Miso Shiru Soup  – Included in the Miku Zen. The miso soup was also made with dashi and there was some tofu and fresh kelp in it.


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