While I have been stuffing my face for the past two months in different cities, I came across a place in Vancouver that has intensified my love for sushi. My friends who know me best know that I would jump at the opportunity to have sushi; anything that screams sashimi or wasabi makes my fingerling potatoes curl.
I made a short trip to Vancouver in early November to visit my family and relatives, and one night in Yaletown my fellow foodie friend took me to Minami for a quick bite. By 'bite', I mean this was what I'd consider a pre-meal before an actual meal. But if I had the opportunity to have dinner here again or an intimate omakase experience, I would.
Minami is the sister restaurant of Miku, a highly acclaimed sushi restaurant owned by Seigo Nakamura and known for pioneering the style of Aburi (flame seared) sushi. This amazing technique involves applying fire directly from a blowtorch to lightly sear the fish in order to bring out its natural flavours. Which is exactly why it's worth grabbing a seat at the bar at Minami. Watching the Japanese sushi chefs magically craft together oshizushi, a sushi pressed into rectangular pieces, is just like watching a live cooking show.
The ambiance is a balance between exquisite and upscale casual, with a modern Japanese feel. You can probably get away with wearing running shoes if you had just spent an entire afternoon biking and had no idea where you'd end up before dinner. I always like to have a sleek cardigan at the ready.
The service was friendly, quick and attentive, which might have been partial to the advantage of bar seating where the chefs can hand the dishes right to you as soon as they're done. We started off with some prawn sashimi, which you undoubtedly have to eat with your hands. The prawns were plump, juicy and delightfully cooling on their own, so there was no need for soy sauce. Just add a spritz of lemon and you're good to go.
Next came the specialty Sunset Roll wrapped in smoked sockeye salmon, filled with spicy tuna, cucumber, yuzu-red onion salsa, and lightly topped with kaiware. All beautifully plated in an exquisite and one-of-a-kind piece sourced directly from Japan.
The best was saved for last: the Aburi flame-seared Salmon Oshi Sushi with pressed BC wild salmon, signature Miku sauce, and sliced jalapenos. It was the best tasting nigiri I've had by far. Softly smoked, rice as fluffy as a cloud, and tender with the slightest crunch, it melts in your mouth with a hint of spiciness against the fish so fresh it can put Lake Ontario to shame. As soon as I took my first bite out of that, my eyes popped wide open as if I couldn't believe what I had just ate. It was a true moment of joy written all over my face, and my friend's face, to say the least.
In all fairness, Minami is definitely on the pricier end, but still a fantastic spot when you're visiting in Yaletown. I'd recommend it for anyone looking celebrate a special occasion or willing to shell out a bit more for high quality sushi. It's a wonderful testament to the thriving sushi scene in Vancouver and I'm already looking forward to my next visit!
1118 Mainland Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2T9