Suanne and I are getting into the groove of going out for a nice dinner to start off the weekend. Just the two of us.
We went to Miku because we heard so much about their unique version of sushi. Having never been here before and guided by the reviews we read, we went there with a perception of exclusiveness and authentic Japanese culinary experience. After all, they are located at a part of downtown that we thought is an expensive area to operate a restaurant.
Miku is located on West Hastings just west of Burrard. It is just a street away from the new Vancouver Convention Center.
As usual, we were at Miku early at 5PM. They were at the midst of setting up for the evening. We were greeted by the restaurant manager, Erica, who turned out to be our perfect host for the evening. We were given a choice of seated at the bar or the tables. We opted for the tables simply because we felt kind of odd eating in front of the chef, especially when we want to take pictures. On hindsight, it would have been much better seated at the bar because that was where the action is.
Miku is modern and certainly upscale. The service was impeccable.
While their menu is not overly large (it was a 3-pager only), the menu was rather overwhelming to us as a lot of them are in Japanese names. I am sure you know the feeling when you have menus you simply have no idea what they are. I must say that our waiter was really good and patient with our questions and help us navigate the menu.
I got something Japanese for the drink. This is called the Nakano Brewery Ume Shu ($8 for a glass). I like this … it is a well-balanced complex Japanese plum wine. Even Suanne likes it too. It does not reek of alcohol and is light. The only thing is that the ice dilutes it pretty fast so it is best taken early on.
We started the night with two orders of sushis. The above is their signature Miku Roll ($15). This roll has salmon, uni (sea urchin), snow crab and cucumber and rolled with tobiko.
While this does not look particularly pretty, it is amazing. What makes this different from others is the way it is prepared …
… Aburi-style. Erica explained to us that the Aburi technique of searing is copyrighted. When I saw that they were making this, I asked if it is OK if I take a picture of them making this at the bar. I scampered over and took the picture above.
We had seared sushis before. This is is different in that they had a bigger torch and seared with a charcoal which gives out crackles as it is seared. The charcoal is supposed to give it a smokey flavour while the searing serves to liquify the oil in the ingredients. It looked fancier but am not sure if the charcoal really makes a difference.
Two things we love about the Miku Roll … you see the fatty looking thingy topping the roll above? I thought it was some fatty meat or something until we asked our waiter who said it was their very own Miku Sauce. It was great and was curious what exactly it is made of. When we got the chance, we asked Erica who said that it’s a secret recipe that she is not privy to that info. Maybe she did not know? LOL!
The other thing that is amazing here is the tobiko (flying fish roe) which was seared making it really crunchy. We had a great time popping all the tobiko which scattered inside our mouth. Nice!
Our second sushi is called the Premium Aburi Sushi and described as the Chef’s Selection of Assorted Aburi Sushi. With a name like that you cannot go wrong right?
There are a total of 7 pieces of sushis in this $18 offering. Each of the sushis were paired with … a different sauce. Love it but because Suanne and I both wanted to taste each and every piece, it meant that we had to break them up into two. We had half a mind of requesting our waiter if he could have the chef cut the sushis into two for us.
- albacore tuna – miso sauce w/ welsch onion
- salmon – honey dijion sauce
- hamachi – avocado sauce
- scallop – sweet soy
- ebi (prawn) – basil cream sauce
- red tuna – masatake sauce – soy sauce, seasme oil & onions
- masutake (pine mushroom) – house made soy, fresh lemon & cracked salt
After the sushis, we wanted to try something else. It took a while for us to pour over the menu again. When the restaurant manager saw us doing that, she came over and asked if we had any questions. Seeing that we are indecisive, she asked if we wanted a mini Omakase of sorts … i.e. leave it to the chef to whip something up for us. We thought that was a great idea – no guesswork and let the chef decide. After a few questions regarding our likes, how much food, etc, the above came.
It is called the Matsutake Tempura served on a bed of straw with three types of salt on the side ($20). They served this because Matsutake (known as Pine Mushroom) was the special of the week at Miku’s.
This is what we like … a mini lesson about Matsutake. We were told that Matsusake is seasonal and harvesting happens in Fall every year. It is a highly prized ingredient in Japanese cuisine. The best grade Matsusake from Japan could cost upward of $2000 per pound. Some people says that the Matsusake is Japan’s equivalent to black truffles.
The ones we had were harvested in BC. Over the past few decades the supply of Matsusake in Japan had dwindled and they had increasingly imported this prized mushrooms from BC. The reason why Matsutake are expensive is because it is hard to find and harvest. It only grows on the roots of some species of tree and they are often covered by fallen leaves.
While there is a distinct aroma to the Matsusake, it was somewhat masked by the heavy and oily batter. The three salt that accompanied this was green tea, garlic and a 7-spice salt.
The second of the mini Omakase came in a tea pot for each of us. This is also made with Pine Mushroom and is called Dobin Mushi (simply pine mushroom soup). This one is $10.
We were told to squeeze a drop of lemon in the cup and then drink the “sake” which is chicken broth. The broth has a nice complex flavor with an earthy/woody taste from the Matsusake. I enjoyed this a lot.
When the soup is done with, there are the pine mushrooms, chicken and fish cake that we fish out to eat.
Suanne just have to have dessert even though she is full. It is difficult to resist too especially when the waiter made a pitch about their two pastry chef (one European and the other Japanese) who makes everything in house by hand.
So we opted for the Chocolate X Orange ($6). We expected this to be traditional Japanese dessert or something but it came more western than anything. It is a chocolate wafer tower with chocolate ice cream and served with a bitter sweet orange sauce.
While it is excellent, it was kind of hard to eat. The very thin wafer crumbles easily and when it does, it sticks to the ice cream or the plate. Taste wise, it gives a different texture to each bite with pure intense chocolate. It is not too sweet which is good.
We had an enjoyable experience dining in Miku. We ended up taking a lot longer for this meal at a more leisurely pace than we anticipated that we lost track of time and were almost late for our next appointment. I felt makes the difference in Miku is the service and the quality of the food. It is also pricey as you can see. I am not sure if the service level we experienced were higher because of the presence of our camera and the clear fact that we were taking notes and had lots of questions. LOL!
Miku does serve Omakase, starting at $80 I think. We had never tried a full Omakase before. We are looking for that one special occasion to do that … someday.
The above are pictures of their menu. Check it out by clicking on them.