A couple years ago, Mike and I had a wonderful experience at Miku (@), located downtown, overlooking the harbour. On my most recent Vancouver trip, I dropped by its sister restaurant Minami (@), located in Yaletown.
The restaurant is conveniently located a block away from the Yaletown Roundhouse Skytrain station. Upon entering the restaurant, I was surprised by how large the interior was and I loved that the large tables were well spaced apart. These days I always feel so cramped in restaurants with their tiny little tables overflowing with food all while eating elbow-to-elbow with the strangers next to us.
My sister and I dropped by for a quick lunch and found their menu to be pretty extensive. It features appetizers like ebi fritters and gyozas ($12-$15 range), Aburi Oshi sushi, also known as pressed box sushi ($16), specialty rolls (around $16), a la carte nigiri and sashimi, entrees (including soba noodles, seafood and meat dishes) and cooked lunch sets for around $30. They also offer an Omakase option which needs to be ordered 72 hours in advance at $125 per person.
We shared the Premium Sushi Lunch – a selection of traditional and Aburi nigiri, oshi and sushi rolls ($27). They also offer an 8-piece Aburi set for $19 and a 10-piece traditional set for $20. The premium lunch set comes with 12 pieces (6 pieces of assorted nigiri, 4 pieces of oshi sushi and 2 pieces of the Red Wave Roll) as well as a bowl of miso soup.
The aburi nigiri is what they specialize in so it’s no surprise they do this incredibly well. The flame-searing technique really brings out the flavours of the fish. If you’re looking for traditional sushi, this certainly isn’t the place to get it. They make their aburi nigiri with a slight twist, often topping them with condiments or ingredients that you wouldn’t normally associate with a Japanese restaurant.
Their oshi sushi (pressed box sushi) is also a fan favourite. The lunch set comes with two pieces of Salmon Oshi Sushi – pressed BC wild salmon, jalapeno, Miku Sauce and two pieces of Saba Oshi Sushi – pressed house cured mackerel, miso sauce. The salmon is undoubtedly delicious with the creamy house sauce and kick from the jalapeno but I have to give a slight edge to the saba. I’m a sucker for mackerel and this had a wonderful smokiness to it.
The lunch set also came with two pieces of the Red Wave Roll – crab, avocado, wrapped in red tuna, masatake sauce which is essentially a California roll wrapped in tuna. Tasty!
To supplement our premium lunch set, we also ordered the Minami Roll – spicy prawn, cucumber, wrapped in Aburi short rib, wasabi masatake sauce ($16). Incorporating short rib into the roll made it quite unique – like surf and turf in the form of a sushi roll. The thin slices of beef, which were lightly torched and still slightly raw, wrapped a spicy tempura prawn roll and was topped with a delicious sauce made of a mixture of onions, garlic and soy. I enjoyed the roll but my sister didn’t care for it. So, to each their own!
The last item we shared was the Crunchy Hokkaido Scallop Roll – flying fish roe, aonori tempura bits, house made sweet soy ($16). The roll was filled with plump, sweet scallops with bits of fish roe mixed into it. It was all topped with generous handfuls of crispy tempura bits (a little too much in my opinion, but in their defense, it is called the ‘crunchy’ scallop roll…).
It was a good roll but didn’t really wow me. It wasn’t as inventive or exciting as the other items we tried but it still came at a high price tag of $16. At this price, I wouldn’t order it again.
Overall, we had a nice meal at Minami. Like I said, if traditional sushi is what you’re looking for, this isn’t the restaurant for you. They take a more inventive approach to their sushi and their flame-torched concoctions are worth a visit. But you can find the same aburi offerings at the Miku location which I personally prefer.
At a glance:
- Specializes in aburi sushi (flame seared sushi)
- Located in Yaletown
- Sister restaurant of Miku, located in the Downtown waterfront of Vancouver
- Not for those looking for traditional sushi
- Enjoyed the aburi nigiri and sushi; similar offerings at Miku
- Between the 2 restaurants, I prefer Miku
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 3.5 stars
- Service: 3 stars
- Atmosphere: 3 stars