UPDATE: As of May 1, 2012, Sushi Kimura has been sold and Kimura-san is no longer the chef there.
While I was visiting Vancouver back in January, I had heard the latest buzz amongst some local foodies about omakase at Sushi Kimura for an inexpensive price of $30 a person. Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means “to entrust” and is typically used at sushi restaurants to mean “chef’s choice” or basically, entrusting the chef to create a meal with the freshest ingredients he has to offer. The meal will typically include a series of dishes including both hot and cold items. Up until then, my only experiences of omakase had been at Tojo’s and Octopus Garden a couple of years back. To me, $30 a person seems very inexpensive for sushi and Japanese food in general by Calgary’s standards as one can very easily rack up a bill of more than $30 a person in Calgary for very average sushi and/or Japanese food. Hence, I was determined to check out what the latest buzz was all about. I convinced local food hound Grayelf and her SO to join my friend and I for omakase at Sushi Kimura. Since we had heard that we could make specific requests when making the reservation, when we called in, we specifically asked for the jellyfish sunomono that I had read about it on the Vancouver Chowhound board.
Our first course was an appetizer quartet – a piece of Japanese pumpkin (Kabocha) topped with sesame seeds, 2 pieces of grilled sardines with a slice of marinated lotus root, a cube of house made pig’s ear gelatin topped with peanut sauce, and a dish of jellyfish sunomono. The Kabocha was sweet and a nice contrast to the rest of the other items in the quartet. I was surprised the grilled sardines was actually quite tasty and not fishy at all. The marinated lotus root was crunchy and a nice contrast to the sardines. The pig’s ear gelatin had an interesting texture and taste. The gelatin was savoury and dense with bits of the crunchy pig’s ear. My favourite of the quartet was the jellyfish sunomono, which consisted of marinated jellyfish, sliced cucumber, and seaweed. I really enjoyed the combination of flavours and textures in the sunomono.
Next up was the salmon carpaccio topped with fresh ground black pepper, shaved daikon, radish matchsticks and finished with a light citrus sesame soy-based vinaigrette. I thought the textures and flavours worked really well together for this dish.
Our third course was tuna tartare topped with a quail egg yolk and caviar. The tuna tartare, which contained chopped tuna mixed with thinly sliced okra, was served on top of a slice of red grapefruit and finished with a soy-based vinaigrette. I was surprised that the grapefruit actually imparted sweetness and citrus notes to the tartare. As part of this course, we were each given a small piece of steamed uni (sea urchin) to sample. This was my first time tasting uni prepared in this way. The steaming made the uni texture firmer than usual but it was still delicate in texture.
Our fourth course was baked oysters with miso sauce. These oysters were tasty and had a clean finish. Personally though, I usually prefer consuming my oysters raw instead of cooked.
Our next course was the chawanmushi which is a Japanese steamed egg custard. This was my first time trying chawanmushi and initially, I didn’t know what to expect. To my surprise, this was actually one of my favourite dishes of the evening. The egg custard was steamed to perfection as the egg was delicate and smooth. The custard was flavourful and savoury. It contained slices of shiitake mushroom and the bottom contained udon noodles that were al dente. The combination of textures and flavours made it a perfect dish.
Our sixth course was steamed mussels with a miso broth. This is my first time having mussels prepared Japanese style. The mussels were cooked perfectly and were very tender and flavourful. The miso broth was light and delicate and complemented the mussels very well. I really enjoyed this dish and would order it if it was on the regular menu.
Our last savoury course was vegetarian sushi. I would never have guessed that vegetarian sushi could taste so good. This course consisted of a piece each of okra nigiri, shiitake mushroom nigiri, and roasted shishito pepper nigiri topped with bonito flakes. Also, as part of this course, there was a piece of taro and tamago (Japanese sweet omelette). I was very surprised how tasty the okra was. It did not have a slimy texture at all. The taro was toothsome and not starchy. I was also very impressed with the tamago at Sushi Kimura. It was tender and had the perfect amount of sweetness. Usually I’m not a fan of tamago as I generally find them to be too sweet. This course was definitely a huge success. If vegetarian sushi tasted like this all the time, I wouldn’t even mind ordering it in place of regular sushi every now and then.
Before moving on to dessert, Kimura-san gave us each a piece of special saba (mackerel) nigiri to sample. The saba was very fresh and didn’t have a fishy taste at all. It was easily one of the best tasting pieces of saba that I’ve ever had. This was the perfect bite to sum up the whole evening.
We finished off the omakase set with a scoop of black sesame ice cream for dessert. The ice cream was tasty and was not overly sweet. The black sesame flavour was pronounced but not overbearing. I really enjoyed it as it is a more unusual flavour in comparison to typical green tea or mango flavours.
I can honestly say my meal at Sushi Kimura was one of the highlights of my Vancouver trip. I like that Sushi Kimura is very authentic and non-pretentious. I really enjoyed sitting at the bar watching Kimura-san prepare our meal. He was very friendly and entertaining. Sushi Kimura is on the top of my list for my next visit to Vancouver. I can’t wait to have the omakase again.
3883 Rupert Street