Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Miku Restaurant - Dine Out


I used to work right across from Miku and have spent countless afternoons walking past the bright "Miku" logo sign on the street. The words "aburi sushi gourmet cuisine" stared at me every time I passed by, and I thought to myself: "Wow this place seems really high-end!" I checked out the menu, and prices were indeed rather expensive. I couldn't justify paying that much for a casual workday lunch, so I decided I had to wait for a special occasion. And that occasion turned out to be Dine Out Vancouver. I was a bit concerned that the quality might be compromised during the busy Dine Out season, but I need not have worried. The place was packed, but we were seated promptly and well attended to. As we waited for our food, I took in the surroundings and was quite impressed by the simple and elegant setting. I enjoyed watching the chefs work behind the curved counters in the open kitchen. I loved the cool blue lighting and the minimalistic, yet modern decor.


There were only 2 options for the Dine Out menu ($38): the regular and the vegetarian. I came for the raw fish, so the regular it was. The appetizer came relatively quickly. The presentation was nice with the 3 hors d'oeuvre sitting in line atop a green leaf. I started eating from the left side as the flavour grew increasingly intense from left to right.
tofu and tomato caprese:
This was the mildest in flavour, but it was amazingly refreshing and appetizing. The tofu reminded me a bit of soft squeaky cheese and the sauce was very flavourful.
nori tempura battered crispy ebi:
The prawn was very lightly battered, so it wasn't very crispy. But without a thick battered skin, I could taste the flavour of the prawn better. And I loved the puree on the bottom. I thought it was potato puree, but it didn't taste like potato at all. Hmm... I wonder what it was?
aka miso pork and aburi soy daikon:
The pork belly was very rich and fatty, but I thought the daikon was the star of the show. The soy-braised daikon had soaked in all the flavours from the sauce, so the taste had a lot more depth to it. While the texture of the pork was soft enough, it was not as tender as braised pork I've had elsewhere.


The entree consisted of 10 pieces of assorted sushi. At first glance, they looked like regular nigiri sushi, but they were so much more than that. Each piece had its own distinct topping of condiments. Each piece was a unique blend of flavours that came together to create a multidimensional taste. I could tell a lot of thought was put into planning the combinations of ingredients, as well as making sure that every component was executed perfectly from the rice to the neta to the sauces. The sushi are listed below with their corresponding toppings.
(from left to right starting from the top)
aburi salmon oshi: (jalapeno and black pepper) Miku's signature sushi.
aburi ebi oshi: (ume sauce and lime zest)
aburi saba oshi: (miso) My favourite!
oxford roll: maguro
hamachi aburi: (avocado)
ebi aburi: (basil) The creamy basil pesto made me feel like I was eating pasta.
bincho aburi: (onions)
maguro zuke: (seaweed)
kanpachi zuke: (pickled veggies)
salmon zuke: (lemon) The lemon was so fragrant and refreshing!
*Note about the rice: One of my coworkers told me before my visit that she did not like the rice because she found it very sweet, so I paid particular attention to the taste of the rice. It was indeed slightly sweet and much more noticeably so than the sushi rice I've had elsewhere, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it was "very" sweet. I personally enjoyed the higher level of sweetness because it balanced out the savouriness of the neta and the sauces.


The aburi salmon oshi sushi is supposedly Miku's signature item. Aburi is a method of preparing the fish/seafood such that it's partly seared and mostly raw. Oshi means "pressed", which explains why the sushi is in the shape of a rectangular box. What I like most about the aburi salmon oshi is the salmon sandwiched between the 2 layers of pressed rice to improve the presentation. In terms of taste, however, I prefer the aburi saba oshi with miso as the flavour is much richer and tastier.


green tea eclair, orange vanilla sauce and yuzu orange sorbet:
The eclair pretty much tasted like a soft lady finger with green tea cream filling. It was decorated with a thin slice of white/green chocolate, a raspberry and a blueberry. The garnishing not only added to the appearance of the dish, but added a hint of sweetness and tartness to the taste as well. The sorbet was probably made in-house because it was not very cold at all. The temperature was a bit cooler than whipped cream, but a lot warmer than ice cream. I found that a bit strange at first, but the fragrant yuzu flavour won me over. It was actually better that it wasn't freezing cold because the weather was so cold already.


I knew the sushi would be good, but I did not expect every dish (from the appetizer to the dessert) to go above and beyond my expectations. I'm really glad I came here for Dine Out because I've heard from several friends that they spent well over $60/person at Miku when they dined a la carte. So I think the $38 Dine Out menu is very good value for what you get. I can't wait to come back and try some of the other sushi and desserts.

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