Namoo Sushi – Port Moody, BC


Namoo Sushi
3003 St Johns Street
Port Moody, BC
(604) 949-1017

In an attempt to bolster the registry of locations outside of the usual haunts in the GVRD, a quick lunch stopover in Port Moody while on the hunt for other sweet goodies took place that led me here, to Namoo Sushi.  Funny sounding name indeed, but namoo means tree in Korean (and is also the symbol I see on their business card).  The location is in a commercial building along the main thoroughfare of the old section of this quaint city.  Parking was available just outside.

My visit took place on a weekend, roughly after the 1pm time frame.  A few tables were occupied but it seemed they were known/friendly with the staff.  I saw a drop in customer come get some take away as well.  Service was polite and attentive before and during my meal, I just ran into a bit of lack of attention when I tried to pay (stood way too long at the register with her seated in discussion with the chefs just meters away).  I’m not sure how busy this place can get, and it was hard to judge how the wait staff would cope when it busier.

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Kimura – Vancouver, BC


Kimura Sushi & Japanese Cuisine
3883 Rupert Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 569-2198

[Re-visit (Feb 2011) post here]

There seemed to be some buzz in the local community surrounding this newly opened sushi-ya on the city’s east side, not traditionally an area that one associates with the best Vancouver has to offer in this genre of cuisine, so I added it to my list of places to visit upon returning from my latest summer Asia adventures.  This meal at Kimura took place on a quiet weekend afternoon in the hopes of taking in the reputed laid back, jazz-infused environment that I’d heard about through the grapevine and local blogging community.  With a few tables and seats at the bar counter occupied, it was just right in terms of ambient people noise and atmosphere as I gingerly slid my jet-lagged body into a chair for a meal with one of my most hardest-to-please sushi eating associates.

I won’t repeat what others have gone into in terms of the proprietor’s background and restaurant experience as its been laid out more than enough times for those that want to learn about it.  In any event, its a welcome arrival from my perspective, and hope others in the city make their way here to take in a careful (e.g. not rushed) service and meal with some quality ingredients and preparation.  Just make sure if you do, to keep your eye out for this place as its not the easiest to spot if you’re coming from the other side of the street as its nestled subtly into a building that houses some other businesses, with plenty of natural foliage (for as long as the leaves survive anyways) of mature trees further blocking the view.

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Shiro’s Sushi – Seattle, WA


Shiro’s Sushi
2401 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA
(206) 443-9844

I have had Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant on my wishlist for a few years, ever since I learned about the master-student relationship between Japan’s revered sushi master Jiro Ono, and Shiro Kashiba.  When I recently found myself on a short notice trip to Seattle, I was elated to learn that we scored a dinner reservation.

Unfortunately Kashiba-san was out of town, so we were at the mercy of his deshi.  The many reviews out there, state that the best seat in the house is at the sushi bar (which was full), so we opted for the Kaiseki dinner to give us an opportunity to try a variety of dishes.  With three price-points to choose from, we went with the $80 middle option.

We begin with a trio of appetizers:  tempura of king salmon wrapped with smelt, asparagus with a miso dressing, and yellowtail collar. At first glance, I thought we were given a fried salmon roll, but the tempura of two variety of fish with a squeeze of lemon made this the stand-out of the trio.

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CoCoLo – Vancouver, BC


CoCoLo Japanese Casual Dining & Sake Bar
#202 – 1926 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 732 4676

So with all of that in mind, I cannot even rationalize why it was me, who boldly suggested to an acquaintance that we venture out to what I’d heard was yet another place riding the izakaya wave.

Figuring to keep up with the local way of experiencing an izakaya, I went with the mindset that I would eat more than drink.  But in the end, we did put down a few bottles of Asahi, so all was not lost.

Located across the street but on almost the same block as the excellent Zakkushi, and next door to the highly lauded and recently opened Maenam, is CoCoLo – which bills itself as Japanese casual dining plus sake bar. Open since the early part of June, CoCoLo took over the long standing Kitsilano institution for high end sushi, Shijo.  After apparently shifting to new management in 2008, the apparent decline in food quality and business lead to an unfortunate end to their operations.

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Foodosophy of Sushi – A Dialogue


Irasshaimase!!!

Please have a seat at the counter…

Legend: o-toro / foodosopher ([food-o]) / shokutsu

[o-toro] Sushi is a topic which tends to stir a lot of debate due to its recent mainstream acceptance around the globe. We have (at times) been called sushi snobs, for having extremely high standards when it comes to this Japanese delicacy. So I figured it was about time that we (as a team) put in writing our honest thoughts on this topic – to start some dialog about the food itself.

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Nobu – Las Vegas, NV


Nobu –  Las Vegas
4455 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89169
Tel: 702.693.5090

Nobu, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant chain following in the footsteps of the original ‘Matsuhisa’.  This chain – was created by Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert deNiro.  This high-end chain of restaurants has a presence in cities across the globe.

My first ever visit to Las Vegas was work related – to attend one of their massive conventions.  Lucky for me, my boss (at the time) shared a love for Japanese food, which resulted in my required attendance for dinner at Nobu.  Located inside the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel, Nobu is tucked away just off the main floor casino.  I didn’t have much time to peruse the menu – as we had decided prior to arriving that we would be having the ‘omakase’ (Chef’s choice) dinner.

They offer two different versions of ‘omakase’.  The first ~$100 included a selection of regular menu items, filtered by preferences and general likes/dislikes as questioned by the server.   The second version ~$150 included some more exotic items, and higher quality ingredients.  This posting covers two separate dining experiences about a year apart – covering both.

BASIC OMAKASE:

After enjoying a round of cocktails to get the evening started, the fun began:

The first dish to arrive was a bluefin toro tartar with black caviar.  Chopped toro sashimi, formed in a circle mold, sitting in a sauce of soy, wasabi, garlic and onion.  This was by far – my absolute favorite!  (My dining companion had issues with caviar, which they gladly accommodated.)

Bluefin toro tartare with (and without) caviar

Bluefin toro tartare with (and without) caviar

Second to arrive was kampachi sashimi, each slice topped with thin slices of jalapeno pepper.  I’ve had this (since) prepared both as-described, and with the ‘new-style sashimi’ twist – where the sashimi is drizzled with smoking-hot oil.  In both cases – the cool buttery kampachi and kick from the jalapeno, match spot-on.

Kampachi sashimi with Jalapeno

Kampachi sashimi with Jalapeno

Third dish, was a seared tuna salad.  Specifically – I believe this was seared ahi-tuna, with two small pieces of maki (snow crab wrapped with daikon), dressed with a ponzu & daikon dressing.  Unanimous decision –  this was superb.

Seared tuna salad

Seared tuna salad

Fourth, was announced as Nobu’s signature dish – black cod in miso.  Baked black cod in a sweet miso sauce, garnished with a fried shiso leaf, and umeboshi.  My dining companion selected this as their favorite at the end of the evening.

Black Cod with Miso

Black Cod with Miso

Fifth to arrive was the rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce.  The sauce is a spicy mayo, where the spice heat-level is quite low.  Of all of the dishes – this was the least interesting.  Still very addictive, but it seemed a little too common for this setting.

Rock Shrimp in creamy-spicy sauce

Rock Shrimp in creamy-spicy sauce

Next a plate of Nigiri Sushi arrived – with a basic selection of items.  Well made, and presented – as expected.

Nigiri Sushi

Nigiri Sushi

Lastly – a small bento box arrived containing the dessert course.  Removing the lid, uncovered a flourless chocolate cake, green tea ice cream, and a white chocolate sauce.  The photographed dish was the special birthday presentation they provided – containing the same items – but with a nice birthday flair.

Flourless chocolate cake with green tea ice cream

Flourless chocolate cake with green tea ice cream

Overall – this dining experience does sit as one of the more memorable.   Each dish was very well done, tasted great, and all parties enjoyed every single dish!

SPECIAL OMAKASE:

Again, starting the meal with a round of cocktails, we eagerly awaited the food tour to begin:

Trio of Ceviches:  An oyster shooter (fresh oyster with a citrus sauce and an egg yolk), Lobster Ceviche & Caviar:  (not my favorite – it seemed as though they forgot to add a sauce), and bluefin toro tartar with caviar (similar to the basic omakase – one of my favorites)!

Trio of Ceviches

Trio of Ceviches

Next was a kampachi sashimi, dressed with diced shallots, grated daikon and yuzu.

Kampachi Sashimi

Kampachi Sashimi

Another sashimi dish arrived next, containing seared salmon with micro greens, dill, and a light miso dressing.

Seared Salmon

Seared Salmon

Then came the sharkfin.   I don’t have a photo of this dish, but probably for the best as I’m sure this may trigger some comments that eating this promotes cruelty to sharks.  It was prepared in such a way that it looked like a semi-opaque, gelatinous noodle, served in a shallow dish coated with a similar looking sauce.  No real discernable flavor – just a unique texture.   Not something I’d ever intentionally order or crave to eat.

Next, we started moving to some more substantial eats.  Lobster, seared fois-gras, shiitake mushrooms, and white asparagus puree.  Superb!

Lobster, Fois-gras, shiitake, and white asparagus puree

Lobster, Fois-gras, shiitake, and white asparagus puree

Then came the wagyu beef, grilled asparagus and ponzu.  Believe it or not – I was on the fence with this dish.  Was it good –  definitely yes.   Does wagyu beef taste better than all other beef – this is where I have trouble answering yes…      However, the tender, fatty beef and ponzu sauce – was an absolute perfect match.

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef

Next, we were served a small bowl of asari miso (soup with baby clams), and an offering of nigiri sushi.  Compare this selection against the basic omakase, and it’s clear how they step-up to a completely different league – amaebi, escolar, giant clam, kampachi, o-toro (amazing).

Nigiri Sushi

Nigiri Sushi

Finally – the dessert course.  A nice (not too sweet) selection of biscotti, and caramel flavored quenelles of what I thought was marscarpone.

Biscotti & caramel quenelles

Biscotti & caramel quenelles

Overall – the special omakase seemed as though it was a parade of expensive ingredients, for the sake of nothing more than to try and use them…  If I’m faced with the decision between the two options again – I am almost certain I would choose the basic omakase, as there wasn’t a single item that I didn’t like.

Las Vegas is now full of celebrity-chef endorsed restaurants – but if you win a few on the casino floor and have a couple hours to enjoy a nice meal – I’d suggest giving Nobu’s omakase a toss of the dice.

Nobu (Hard Rock) on Urbanspoon

Sakanaya – Shimoda, JP


Sakanaya
Bay Station 1F
1-1 Gaikaoka, Shimoda City
Shizuoka, Japan
+81 0558 23 0358

Having lived in various places when it comes to closer to home (Canada), please have often asked me which I prefer among my two latest stops… the coastal environment of Vancouver with its proximity to the ocean, or the majestic mountains that are a short drive away from a place like Calgary.  Put simply, am I a ‘water’ guy or a ‘land’ guy?

In response I’m apt to say, that as much as I enjoy outdoor hiking and think the Rockies are one of the most amazing natural surroundings any place on the planet, there is something about the beauty and calming sensation that comes with strolling along a beach with the waves crashing against the shoreline and the distinct scent of sea water that permeates the air.  Perhaps its also the Pisces in me, but that draw to the ocean always beckons me when I travel.  So whenever I come across a harbour with various boats as well as larger ocean liners, I always imagine what it would be like to travel the seas on a daily basis or over long periods of time.  Shimoda City is one such place that struck my fancy with its quaint little waterside marina and the following is a report on a simple meal I had there.

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