Kimura Sushi & Japanese Restaurant – Lunch Omakase

**Restaurant under new ownership/chef!**

Restaurant: Kimura Sushi & Japanese Restaurant
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi/Sashimi/Fusion
Last visited: April 18, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Renfrew-Collingwood)
Address: 3883 Rupert Street
Price Range: $10-20, $20-30+

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

Food: 4.5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Japanese owned/operated
  • Chef Itsuroku Kimura
  • Local favourite
  • Busy/popular on weekends
  • Popular for Omakase
  • Affordable
  • Authentic & funky Japanese
  • Sushi/Sashimi
  • Hidden gem
  • Visa/MC/Interac
  • Set lunch/dinner specials available
  • Lunch Mon-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm
  • Dinner Mon-Thurs 5:30pm-9:30pm
  • Dinner Fri-Sat 5:30am-10pm
  • Sunday closes at 5:30pm
  • Kimura – Visit/Review 1 – Omakase Dinner

**Recommendations: Omakase (Chef’s tasting menu) and request the oyster shooter with quail’s egg, chawanmushi and tamago on the side, and spare rib and quail karaage. The conch was also great and the spicy tuna sashimi on crispy rice is supposed to be a hit. Try the “Japanese Spumone” for dessert.

The outside is very unassuming and it looks like a regular Japanese restaurant surrounded by a couple dodgy businesses. I would consider it somewhat of a hidden gem as it’s a tiny operation with food that speaks greater than its location and ambiance. I must say that the man behind the sushi bar is quite the character and one of the main reasons people come. Besides his passion for cooking, and lively personality, he apparently also plays Jazz music quite loudly throughout the day, although I have yet to experience this charming quirk.

Chef Itsuroku Kimura has worked and owned Japanese restaurants in Japan, Shanghai, Mexico City and Los Angeles, so his creations are funky with global influences drawing from all those areas. It’s not a modern izakaya place although he could probably turn it into one if he wanted to.

Even though he is traditionally trained, I actually found the strengths in his innovative offerings rather than his sashimi and sushi, which is opposite of what I’ve been experiencing of the late – see Kiriri Japanese, and the more traditional Tokachi Japanese & Sushi Hachi.

Kimura Sushi & Japanese Cuisine in Vancouver, BC is quickly becoming a favourite for Omakase (Chef’s tasting menu). It’s the way to dine here. Of course allergies and special requests will be handled accordingly, but it’s best if you’re not picky. Omakase is usually a pretty pricey way of dining, but Kimura makes it more than affordable with Omakase menus starting at $30+/person. The value is definitely there and of course prices will range accordingly with ingredients used. If you see anything that I ordered that you might want to try, you can certainly request it and he’ll do his best to cater or replicate.

It’s really a unique experience, especially if you’ve never tried it, and even better if you sit up at the bar and watch Chef Kimura execute all his dishes. I ended up doing that for my last two dishes and it was great. It was more personal and it was fun chatting with Chef Kimura as I nodded my head pretending to understand every word he was saying. He has a youthful spirit that exudes into the food he creates. Although I didn’t find it amazing omakase (I like Octopus’ Garden omakase better), it was solid and enjoyable and I would come again. He discovered later that my tastes were more adventurous and told me that if I told him beforehand he would have pushed the line farther… so I definitely made a mental note for next time! (I actually did come back, but didn’t get to tell him, but here’s my Kimura omakase dinner post.)

On the table:

Organic Arugula & Baby Spinach Salad – 4/6

  • It was a mix of spinach and arugula leaves and it was well dressed with a light olive oil vinaigrette.
  • It’s well seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper and salty shavings of Parmesan cheese.
  • What made it unique was that he tossed it with millet! It’s a whole grain that tastes like mini round pearls of Rice Krispy cereal and they added a great crispy crunch without getting soggy. It’s a cost effective method as opposed to nuts.
  • For something so basic, it was quite enjoyable thanks to the millet which added great texture.

Assorted Appetizers

  • Freshly shucked oyster, tempura smelt, goma-ae, sesame crusted conch, Japanese kaboocha squash, lotus root, ankimo (Monkfish liver) and oyster shooter with quail’s egg.
  • It was a nice variety of ingredients with a good selection of seafood.
  • I would have appreciated some daikon, Japanese pickle or shiso leaf as a palate cleanser to serve along side though.
  • Tempura Smelt 4/6
    • I’m quite sure it was house pickled and cured and it was understandably fishy, nice and salty with a refreshing crunch of pickled onion on top. It wasn’t really crispy though.
  • Goma-ae 1/6
    • I hope this isn’t representable of his actual goma-ae. It was plain spinach with no sesame dressing or flavour of any sort.
  • **Sesame Crusted Conch5/6
    • The conch was beautiful. It was meaty, tender, firm, with a nice chew and it was well marinated and crusted with toasted sesame seeds. It was aromatic from sesame oil and also slightly sweet as well as savoury.

  • **Oyster Shooter with Quail’s Egg6/6
    • This was amazing! You just mix it all together before shooting it.
    • It’s something you enjoy through the nose as well… don’t snort it, but smell it!
    • It was incredibly aromatic and so full of flavour and it really did wake up your entire palate.
    • It was silky smooth, creamy, very savoury, slight sweet, nutty from hot sesame oil and also quite tangy from perhaps some mirin and ponzu vinaigrette.
    • I also got some sake notes especially at the end, but for the most part it was was savoury and tangy.
    • It went down very easily and then you had the raw oyster at the bottom which left a nice briny finish.
    • I thoroughly enjoyed this unique concoction.
  • Ankimo (Monkfish Liver)5/6
    • Ankimo is the foie gras of the sea and it’s considered a Japanese delicacy.
    • If you’ve never tried it, it’s a good starting point here because it’s just one slice.
    • This was a very contemporary way to serve it too and there was some French inspiration.
    • It was served with a strawberry jelly reduced with some Cognac.
    • It added a nice sweetness to the creamy seafood pate and it actually masked the fishy sardine flavour I’ve experience with ankimo before.
    • It was almost like having fruit with foie gras, so it worked better than I thought and had a sweet and savoury balance. I wanted to spread it over a crostini.
    • The traditional Japanese way of eating it can be seen here at Manzo Japanese.
  • Japanese Kaboocha Squash & Lotus Root3/6
    • It was simple vegetables to balance out all the cholesterol rich appetizers.
    • Everything else was quite heavily seasoned so this was a nice break.
    • They were well marinated in a sweet glaze.
    • The squash was creamy and soft and the lotus root was crunchy, yet tender.
  • Freshly Shucked Oyster – 3/6
    • It was fresh, but just the standard Fanny Bay (I think).

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewer & BBQ Conch with Soup – 3.5/6

  • The beef tenderloin had a really unusual texture and it was almost pasty and grainy. It almost seemed like a thick coating of sweet and savoury paste and it was actually a marinade of pureed mango, papaya and I think Teriyaki sauce. It was also served with a sweet Teriyaki glaze which I only needed for the conch.
  • I kind of wish I knew it was a  fruit marinade because it was throwing me off a bit.
  • The tenderloin itself was incredibly soft and tender, but I do wish there was some clue of mango and papaya being used even if it was just as a garnish.
  • It wasn’t necessarily sweet, but it was almost creamy and a bit mushy and the texture was interesting.
  • The BBQ conch was smoky and sweet from the Teriyaki glaze and it had a nice firm chew but was still tender.
  • There was some conch broth served in the shell, but I found it slightly bitter.

**Chawanmushi (Japanese Steamed Egg Custard) – 5.5/6

  • This is popular here and I’d request it although it’s usually standard with any of his omakase menus.
  • If there were more ingredients, this would possibly be the best chawamushi I’ve had in Vancouver to date.
  • The texture and flavour was definitely superior to most, but I just wanted more ingredients.

  • It’s a hot savoury silky custard pudding and it’s a traditional Japanese comfort food.
  • The top layer was almost a layer of savoury sweet creamy gel and it held incredible flavour of sweet mushrooms and lots of savoury dashi stock and perhaps some added soy sauce.
  • The soup was delicious and it was something you didn’t want to end.
  • There was only 2 very small pieces of chicken, a small piece of shrimp, and a couple slices of Shiitake mushrooms. None of it overcooked which is great, but I prefer them with more ingredients like scallops, Enoki mushrooms and a variety of other things which isn’t hard to come by – see the ones at Koto Izakaya Sushi & Robata, Manzo Japanese or Seto Sushi.

Grilled Miso Black Cod 4/6

  • I actually made a request for this because it was one of the specials of the day so I figured it was quite fresh… or they were trying to get rid of it, but I hope not.
  • I always order sablefish anyways and this one was quite good, but not the best I’ve had.
  • The cod was moist and juicy, like sablefish normally is, and it had a wonderfully sweet and savoury flavour from being marinated with miso and sake.
  • It was decently smoky and nicely charred on the outside, but the smokiness wasn’t infused throughout like the sablefish at Aki Japanese is.
  • I think it was also grilled with olive oil because it was quite silky in flavour and oily before even biting into it.
  • There was a also some freshly cracked black pepper on it which was unusual for robata.
  • Again he used millet (mini rice crispy like whole grain cereal) that give nice crunch and texture to the overall dish.

  • The skin was deconstructed, smoky and well seasoned, but it wasn’t really crispy despite the way it looked.
  • I loved the toasted buttery cashews he included and cashews help with digestion so it served a purpose to be on the plate.
  • The butteriness of the cashew was also suitable with the sablefish and surprisingly not over indulgent since it as only a few pieces.
  • The vegetables were tender and well seasoned and it was served with a dollop of grainy whole grain Dijon mustard on the side.

I requested tamago and I actually got to watch him make it upon order. It’s a time consuming process and I felt kind of bad, but by the end it was a huge rectangular block of impressive Japanese omelette.

**Tamago5/6

  • It’s my usual order of tamago, a Japanese style omelette, which traditionally represents the true test of how good a Japanese restaurant is supposed to be.
  • The tamago was delicious! It’s usually served chilled, but in this case it was hot of the grill.
  • It was a bright orange colour and I don’t know if he was using more egg yolks or if the eggs were just organic.
  • It looks a bit overcooked, but it wasn’t, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit less cooked and wrinkly.
  • It was a bit fluffy with nice layers of egg which is actually not technically right, but it tasted good.
  • It was very juicy and well flavoured with well made dashi broth.
  • It was sweet and savoury with every layer retaining liquid. It’s almost a juicy savoury omelette.
  • My favourite is the one from Aki Japanese, but this is a close second for sure.
  • The authentic Japanese way of enjoying tamago is eating it with grated radish and a little soy drizzled on top.
  • The omelette was flavourful enough on its own, but the daikon enhanced the juiciness the omelette had.

Toro Nigiri (Tuna Belly Sushi)3.5/6

  • It was very good because it was toro, but the sashimi itself wasn’t the best of quality.
  • It was fresh and oily, but the flavour wasn’t as fresh as I’m used to and the sashimi was a bit thin and flimsy.
  • I think it was scraped rather than cut from the belly as the knife skills were very rough around the edges. Even for a scraped one I would prefer the one from Kiriri Japanese – see here.
  • It’s served authentically with a little fresh wasabi underneath and I wasn’t a fan of the sushi rice which seemed a bit bland.
  • He brushes the top with a little house made soy sauce glaze which is not as salty as regular soy and a bit sweet too.
  • If it’s fresh enough I would usually prefer just the wasabi, although his house made sauce is better than regular soy sauce for sashimi.

Hamachi Nigiri (Yellowtail Tuna Sushi) – 3.5/6

  • The best Hamachi sashimi and nigiri I’ve had to date was at Tokachi Japanese (see here) and since then nothing tastes the same. 
  • The knife skills were better and the hamachi was good, but lacked a bit of flavour. Perhaps it was just the fish he had that day.
  • Again the rice isn’t that great here, which surprised me because it looks like a place that would nail it. It’s just a bit under seasoned and maybe even a bit dry.

Japanese Green Tea (Matcha) Ice Cream – 3/6

  • All omakase orders come with dessert which is your choice of Matcha, black sesame, or mango ice cream.
  • It was just standard store bought ice cream, but it was good. I was quite tempted to ask him to panko crust it and deep fry it though. Next time!

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11 Comments

  • Rmd_Foodie says:

    Hey Mijune, how much was the Omakase menu that you chose? Was this the $30 one or a more expensive one?

  • Mijune says:

    @Rmd_Foodie – I’m pretty sure this was around $40, but I did add the tamago and I chose the sashimi. Regardless an extra $10 gives you a lot of food here!

  • Bow says:

    Wow, omakase for $30+ ? Used to do it before the chefs started charging $100+ (Tojo’s routinely charges $400+).The chef shows his European influences(his plating of his foods, his choices, etc.)…the Arugula sald is highly unusual in a Japanese place. mebbe the millet is a takeoff on pine nuts. I think the fresh Tamago is not the way to judge it “cos the cold one(traditionally served) lacks the intensity of a fresh cooked omelet; the smell and taste of a fresh omelet is very sensuous, whilst a cold one depends on a depth of flavour(you lack a silkiness that fresh cooked eggs have, as well as that heavenly aroma). Luv the plating of the black cod and the assorted appys. Another treasure.

  • Linda says:

    wow, this tasting menu is dirt cheap! i’ve never done omakase before but this seems like a good place to start! i love that they gave you a range of appetizers to try – i really love variety when it comes to dining out 🙂 the presentation of it was ok and i’m sorry to hear that the goma-ae was not dressed! i thought the very definition of it meant spinach drenched in sesame dressing lol

    the egg custard looks beautiful! i love the look of it and that picture you took of the first scoop in looks divine – the custard looks creamy and soft, perfect for chawanmushi! it totally reminds of me hot soy pudding too lol

    haha i like how the cod has a couple of pieces of cashews as garnish and that it helped you digest some of your food lol i’m sorry to hear that the sashimi here is sub par – especially with the toro, my favorite! wow, that tamago is a work of art! good job asking to see the chef make it 🙂 i hope you filmed a vid!

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – I really think you should try this place! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Good point on the tamago, I know what you mean.

    @Linda – lol I know!! I love goma-ae and the best part is the creamy sesame sauce!! Aww good point about the video!! I missed that!! next time!!! You have so many places you need to try linda! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!

  • Flora says:

    My boyfriend is a huge fan of omakase, and we decided to try Kimura out after reading your review so I thought I should share our experience with you. The service was a huge disappointment. In the middle of our meal, there was a long 30 minute wait. The table next to us who arrived over an hour after us, had already received their entrees while we had not. It turned out they had made a mistake and delivered our entrees to them. We had to wait another 10 minutes for our entrees. That would have been ok, but my entree never came. They didn’t even realize they had missed my entree until I asked about it. The waitress almost didn’t believe me, she had me name every dish I had thus far. She then came up 5 minutes after I had told her about the missed entree, telling me it was last call, and I needed to place my last orders in if I wanted any. I reminded her about my entree, and she almost looked shocked, like “Is this girl gonna let the missed entree go?” After speaking to the other waitresses, and the chef, she finally tells me my entree will be coming. By the time we finished our meal, we had been in the restaurant for 3.5 hours. Eight tables had come and gone during meal – three of which had omakase. Ridiculous. Needless to say, I’m not going back to this restaurant. The food was mediocre, and it is not good enough to bring me back. I’ve had much better food and much better service elsewhere.

  • Mijune says:

    @Flora – I’m sorry to hear that Flora! Aww now I feel partially responsible since you got the recommendation from me 🙁 Sometimes rough service can lead to a bitter taste throughout the whole meal. I can see your frustration. When I was there I went for lunch and was one of the 4 tables, so I was okay. Thanks for sharing your experience and I hope this one time doesn’t jeopardize your trust in my blog as I write from my personal experience.

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