**Restaurant under new ownership/chef!**
Restaurant: Kimura Sushi & Japanese Restaurant
Last visited: May 29, 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!!
- Kimura – Visit/Review 1 – Omakase Lunch
- Japanese owned/operated
- Chef Itsuroku Kimura
- Local favourite
- Busy/popular on weekends
- Popular for Omakase
- Authentic & funky Japanese
- Hidden gem
- 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
**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 first time I dined at Kimura was for omakase lunch – see here, and this time was for dinner. As I mentioned in my previous post omakase is the way to go here. “Omakase” is pretty much “up to you” or “chef’s choice”, and Kimura is known for his great omakase. Part of the reason is because it’s really good, and the other part of the reason is because the value is excellent. Not only does he offer several courses, but he offers omakase menus starting at $30 which is almost unheard of. On this occasion I came with Sherman and friends for the $50 omakase dinner menu, which generally didn’t disappoint.
My only issue is that there is some overlap in either dishes or flavours and when he gets busy it starts to feel a bit “mass produced” and he leaves out some details. Comparing my $30 lunch omakase to this $50 dinner omakase I had a few similar things, which is understandable, but through the courses the flavours tend to repeat themselves too. It is very good, but I feel like it’s the same sauce that gets drizzled over everything, but at least it’s a great sauce. “Multi-purpose sauce” I like to call it. I know chef and owner Kimura is responsive to requests though, so next time I would just give him a heads up of what I’ve already had. Part of the fun in omakase is the surprise, so I just wanted to be more surprised.
Compared to my last omakase experience at Octopus’ Garden I personally like that one better. It is a bit more high end and it’s more traditional, but I do see more value in Kimura if I look at it in terms of price, portion and overall experience.
Kimura is funky with his food style as well as music tastes as I listened to random Nintendo music and loud Jazz beats throughout the night. It’s a quirky place and if you get a chance it’s best to sit at the bar where you can see him in action. The service is friendly, but not as knowledgeable about the food, but overall it’s still a solid experience for omakase. I almost guarantee most people will be rolling out of here too.
As I was leaving another diner pointed out the mini piles of salt Kimura puts at the front entrance. I’m not sure exactly what the reason is, but it’s a superstitious initiative and I think it’s to shoo away bad spirits and bring good luck. At least that’s usually the case with most Asian rituals of this nature. He sweeps the piles of salt and replaces them daily. This little tidbit just adds to the overall quirkiness Kimura has and it looks like it’s working as omakase dinner reservations are highly recommended.
On the table:
- My omakase lunch here also started with almost the same salad which is quite standard, but this time he didn’t add the crispy millet, which was my favourite part – see here.
- 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 and it was actually quite peppery this time.
- Freshly shucked oysters, tempura smelt, goma-ae, sesame crusted conch, Japanese kaboocha squash, lotus root, ankimo (Monkfish liver) with berry sauce, and oyster shooter with quail’s egg.
- I had pretty much the exact same assorted appetizer plate last time for lunch – see here. This could be one of the “standards” on the omakase menu.
- I would have appreciated some daikon, Japanese pickle or shiso leaf as a palate cleanser to serve along side 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, just like last time. If anything it was a bit sweet this time.
- Japanese Kaboocha Squash & Lotus Root – 3/6
- 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.
- Tempura Smelt – 4/6
- It’s house pickled and cured and it was understandably fishy, salty and lemony and a bit sweet.
- It was jerky like rather than crispy, but also quite juicy from the sweet soy citrus marinade.
- He didn’t top it off with the pickled onion this time either.
- Freshly Shucked Oyster – 3/6
- It was fresh and pre-treated with that multi-purpose sweetened soy sauce he uses.
- **Oyster Shooter with Quail’s Egg – 5.5/6
- This was amazing! You just mix it all together before shooting it.
- I had this last time and I still loved it, however I enjoy the Uni (Sea Urchin) Shooter at Octopus’ Garden a bit more.
- It’s 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.
- It went down very easily and then you had the raw oyster at the bottom which left a nice briny finish.
- This time it was stronger with the sake and maybe because it was dinner time!
- **Sesame Crusted Conch – 5/6
- 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 from some soy which was likely used on the Tempura Smelt too.
- Ankimo (Monkfish Liver) with Berry Sauce – 5/6
- I had this last time too, but this time there was a bit too much jam so it overwhelmed the ankimo.
- 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.
- Tako (octopus), kanpachi (Amberjack), red tuna, hamachi (Yellowtail), ebi (Spot Prawn) and uni (sea urchin) creation, and deep fried Spot Prawn head.
- It was well presented, and the variety was decent, the fish was quite fresh and the knife skills were clean.
- A few items were pre-treated which was a bit unusual for a sashimi platter, since it should showcase freshness; however it was Kimura in style to do it.
- Tako – The octopus was marinaded in a lemony olive oil dressing with black pepper and it tasted like the salad dressing used for the salad. It was a bit chewy and I thought it would be more tender with the acid breaking it down a bit.
- Red Tuna – The tuna was fresh, cut well and great quality.
- Hamachi – The Yellowtail was meaty, buttery and creamy.
- Kanpacahi – The Amberjack was cut very small, but I liked the slits he cut on top to expose more of its flavour. This one tasted like it was marinated in lemon dressing as well. I would prefer no dressing in this case because I just wanted to taste the freshness of the fish without any enhancer.
- Ebi (BC Spot Prawn) and Uni (Sea Urchin) with Salmon Roe and Nori
- This was my favourite on the platter.
- It had great texture and flavour and I just wish it was served on a Chinese spoon because the roe was hard to pick up and eat with everything else.
- It was creamy, rich, slimy, buttery and salty from the potent uni, slippery from the BC Spot Prawn and then bursts of juicy salty pops of salmon roe in between.
- It was a world of fresh and raw seafood flavours and if anything I just wanted some tobiko for added crunch and to break up the naturally slimy textures.
- Wasabi – I do wish it was fresh wasabi, but this one is the paste and it’s not very strong.
- Deep Fried Prawn Head – This was over-fried and too oily. It was crunchy, but the tomalley had dried out so there was nothing to suck out, which is kind of the best part.
- So here comes Kimura’s homemade “multi-purpose” sweet soy sauce that I saw for the next 3 courses. It’s a great sauce, but variety would be nice.
- The “multi-purpose sauce” isn’t as bold or sweet as Teriyaki, but it’s not as salty as regular soy sauce either. There must be mirin and perhaps some ponzu in it.
- In omakase the dishes should go from light to heavy, so I wish this came after the salmon too.
- The spare rib was baked and roasted and fall off the bone tender, but it was slightly dry. There was enough syrupy sauce to mask it and it was still delicious regardless. It had a fantastic crispy charred and sweetened glazed bark too. It was very meaty and well marinated in that sweet Teriyaki like multi purpose soy sauce he uses.
- The quail karaage had a very crispy skin and it didn’t seem deep fried, but roasted or grilled instead. It was incredibly tender and moist and well marinated in the same “multi-purpose” sauce with perhaps some mirin before hand.
- The Yukon Gold potatoes were buttery with skins that just popped off and the Shisito pepper tastes like a slightly bitter green bell pepper meets a zucchini or okra. It’s tender a bit slimy in the middle, smoky, and not spicy at all.
- This was my favourite “main” for the omakase.
- It was served with a tangy lemon butter sauce in addition with that “multi-purpose” sweet soy sauce used in the prior spare rib course (as well as for many other things).
- It was also topped with a tomato cucumber relish, but overall the sauce tasted like a sake lime zest miso vinaigrette to me.
- There was some Mexican fusion, but there wasn’t enough of this tomato cucumber relish to finish the salmon with so it didn’t make a significant enough of an impact.
- I wasn’t a fan of the scallop though. I couldn’t even tell if the underside was seared and it was tender and buttery and dressed in an olive oil. I prefer both sides to be pan seared.
The salmon was cooked a bit inconsistent and out of 5 pieces only one of them was cooked medium rare. The others were a bit too cooked and a bit drier, but not dry. It was flaky with a decently crispy skin and nice citrus tang throughout.
- This is the grilled meat portion of the omakase.
- I must say it was generous to see Kobe beef considering we already had uni, oysters, sashimi, prawns, salmon, ribs and quail. This is only a $50 menu to!
- This tasted very Korean to me.
- It was a gingery soy and garlic sweetened “multi-purpose” sauce (seen in the other dishes) and I could taste a bit of sesame oil as well.
- The beef was somewhat tender, but still a bit chewy and cooked all the way through which was surprising. It was marinated well enough to be tenderized though.
- It didn’t taste like it was from the robata grill and just seemed pan fried.
- There was a strong ginger aroma, but it wasn’t spicy although I could taste the grated ginger being infused throughout the sauce.
- Personally I prefer the soup to come earlier on for omakase, but I still appreciated it as a course after the heavier meats.
- It was steaming hot miso soup served with 2 tender clams and there was no fresh kelp or tofu, but the broth was still good.
- What I love is that he lets you select your own nigiri, which is great considering the price doesn’t change!
- I chose uni, hamachi, ebi, toro, and unagi. What I didn’t like was that 4 other exotic sashimi listed on the menu were not available.
- Another thing, is that I’m just not really a fan of the nigiri here and I felt the same way last time – see here.
- The rice is just a bit bland and dry and then all of it is brushed with that “multi-purpose” sweetened soy sauce he loves. Great sauce, but I’d rather have it served on the side for nigiri and I just wanted a break from it.
- The nigiri is served authentically with a little wasabi underneath and the sauce 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.
- I liked that the cooked eel was served on a separate plate.
- It was melt in your mouth grilled eel with a sweet unagi (eel) sauce glaze on top.
- It was a rich sweet creamy bite, but I wish a bit crispier with the skin.
- These were from the ebi nigiri we ordered so he saved the heads, deep fried them and served them separately.
- I love deep fried BC Spot Prawn heads and these ones were done a bit better than the ones on the assorted sashimi platter.
- The oil was looking a bit old so they were a bit dark and there wasn’t much tomalley to suck out.
- It wasn’t necessarily over fried and they were crispy but I think it just needed an oil change.
- I always order tamago, but this time wasn’t as good as the last time when I had it fresh – see here. Tomago shouldn’t be fresh and hot, but the flavour was better last time.
- On the other hand last time he did brush that sweet soy glaze on top of it before serving it, so that explains it. However it’s the dashi that was muted.
- It’s was cooked perfectly decently fluffy with nice layers of egg, but it wasn’t as sweet or as juicy as last time.
- My favourite is the one from Aki Japanese.
- This is a bit picky, but I wish he served it with the grated radish and a little soy drizzled on top, which is traditional.
- I’m quite certain, the dessert is 99% of the time your choice of green tea, mango or black sesame ice cream.
- I decided to get all three. Japanese Spumone anyone? It was delicious!
- The flavours work fine all together and why wouldn’t they? They’re all aromatic Asian flavours and it’s not uncommon to see any 2 combination of each flavour in other Asian desserts, so why not all 3? This is very “me” though.
- If you’re not as adventurous, the mango is the sweetest and the most flavourful was the black sesame.
- This was a bonus! I had no idea Kimura baked, and I don’t know why he wouldn’t serve this for dessert.
- It was a standard moist cranberry lemon pound cake that tasted like it was from a good supermarket bakery… but he said home made, and I liked it regardless.