Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The New and Improved Miku in Coal Harbour


200 Granville St Vancouver, BC V6C 2R6


(604) 568-3900


Tastiness Factor: 8.5/10 (Hubby's rating= 10/10!)
 

Atmosphere: 5/5

Service: 4.5/5

Locavore Approved? YES- Miku is very dedicated to the Oceanwise program, an initiative by the Vancouver Aquarium to promote the use of sustainable seafood. They have a complete section of its menu with dishes made from Oceanwise-approved seafood and our server explained the Oceanwise concept to us in detail before the meal. In addition to the sustainable seafood, Miku also offers a variety of dishes from local farms (love how they even give credit to the farms in the dish descriptions) and most of the vegetables used were things that I had seen fresh at the Farmer's Market earlier that day. 



Of all the wonderful restaurants in Vancouver, Miku remains Hubby's favourite. Whenever anyone asks him for a restaurant recommendation, Miku is always top on the list. He has spent many a lunch eating plates of their aburi sushi (with a side of chicken nanban if course!) and it always keeps him coming back for more!

Can you therefore imagine the sense of grief and sorrow that washed over him when he learned that they would be closing his beloved Miku at Hastings and Thurlow? How would he survive without his lunchtime Miku fix? Sometimes, however, short term pain leads to longerm gain which is exactly the case in this situation. Miku has now reopened its doors at the North end of Granville St., at Canada Place Way in a beautiful location right on the water. The location itself makes it well worth the visit.

The room has been expertly designed to make the breathtaking view the focal point with massive windows facing the water. The room is modern and classy, mostly dressed in white with the exception of a school of colourful fish painted on the high ceiling. On the side opposite the windows is a sushi bar and a sprawling open kitchen. Quite an impressive space to say the least.






Service at new restaurants can sometimes be touch and go, but not at Miku's new location. I cannot say enough about how lovely our server was. She was one of the most likeable servers I have ever had, very relatable and down to earth. Although the restaurant was busy (it was still packed to the rafters at 9:30pm) she took the time to chat with us about various things, such as how things were going at the new location so far and her favorite menu items. I felt as though I had known her for years by the end of the evening. The other servers who came to deliver our dishes were also very gracious and explained the dishes well. Just as in their previous location, you will also get a Japanese shout out from those in the kitchen on your way in as you are escorted to your table. There is no way you cannot feel welcome here!

And now for what you have all been waiting for- the food and drink! Miku's menu is divided into several sections, including appetizers, veggie sides, dishes from the sea (all Oceanwise, love it!), entrees and, of course, sushi and sashimi. Although one could choose to order an appie and entree to themselves, the dishes at Miku is meant to be shared. With such diverse range of dishes to try, you would really not get the "true" Miku experience by enjoying only one or two of them. And it would almost be a sacrilege to stop at the entree section of the menu and not try the award winning sushi!

Miku has a nice selection of wine with many BC options. We enjoyed a Muscat from one of my all-time favourite BC wineries, Joie Farms.



   


Here is a list of the plates that Hubby and I shared on this visit:

Bar Bites:

Jidori Chicken Nanban- Although the sushi is what keeps Hubby coming back to Miku time after time, he also has a not-so-secret crush on this dish. It is pretty simple really- deep-fried chicken with a creamy sauce and a cabbage slaw. But I guess how can you go wrong with this, especially when it used good-quality chicken and a nicely balanced sauce? Miku can do no wrong in Hubby's eyes, especially when it comes to this dish which he happily devoured in about two seconds flat (it is a good thing I am pescatarian, not that I would have expected him to share anyway!).


 
Appetizers:

Kaiso Seaweed and Heirloom Tomato Salad- This salad, made with greens from a local farm, was perfect for those like me who enjoy Japanese food but who find it a bit lacking when it comes to veggies. With its variety of seaweeds, juicy heirloom tomatoes and creamy avocado, there was certainly no shortage of veggies here! The ponzu vinaigrette had a nice balance of sweet, salty and spicy as all good Asian food should. It is a good portion for two to share (Hubby loved it too!) but you might not want to share once you taste how good it is!


Hamachi carpaccio- Hubby loves raw fish of every variety so a fish carpaccio was right up his alley. I was glad that birthday boy enjoyed it but for me, this was the only dish of the evening that really missed the mark in terms of flavour. There is no denying that the fish was unbelievably fresh but the citrus avocado sauce was a pretty bland. I am a proponent of letting the true flavours of this mild fish shine through, but a little hint of contrasting flavour would have added a ton to the dish. I also thought that the portion was a bit small for the value.




Vegetable sides:

Tsukemono- The meaning of this dish's name is "Japanese preserved vegetables" and, true to its name, this came as a simple small bowl filled with seasonal pickled vegetables. There was a nice variety of veggies, including carrots, fennel, cauliflower, radish and cucumber, all of which were being sold by our amazing local farmers at the Vancouver Farmers Market earlier that day. This was a nice palate cleanser before the sushi courses and very pretty as you can see! The portion might appear small, but because the veggies are pickled, we were quite satisfied after one bowl between the two of us.



Sushi: 

Aburi Salmon Oishi Sushi- This is the star dish at Miku and anyone who passes through the doors MUST order it whether they are a sushi lover or not (if not, they will be after eating this!). The sushi is made into perfect little rectangles of goodness, with rice "sandwiching" beautiful Oceanwise pressed BC wild sockeye salmon and then topped with more salmon, a thinly sliced piece of jalapeño and a dash of "Miku sauce". Finally, a blowtorch is passed over the top to give it just a little sear to the salmon on top. It would be a shame to ruin it with the standard drenching of soy sauce as is typically the standard at most sushi restaurants and Miku discourages it by not providing guests with soy or wasabi. So dig right in to this sushi just as the chef has prepared it- he has hit the sushi jackpot with this drool-worthy dish!


 


Aburi Ebi Oishi- This is similar the the Salmon Oishi in shape and in concept but is made with pressed pressed prawn instead of salmon. For me, this is not in the same league however, as the prawns lack the fattiness and oiliness that makes the Salmon Oishi so decadent and delicious. As well, the prawn was simply on top and not in the middle, and therefore there was a bit too much rice for my liking. The flavours of the lime zest and the ume sauce got a bit lost with all that rice and I found it a bit dry. On the other hand, Hubby did enjoy it and was happy to eat more than his share!

Red Wave Roll- This is a more traditional sushi, made into the standard roll shape, and is Hubby's second favourite after the Salmon Oishi. The rice is rolled around real crab (you will not find any imitation crab at Miku, thank goodness!) and avocado and the outside is then wrapped in red tuna. It is dressed in a masatake sauce, although on this particular night, I found it a bit underdressed. Otherwise though, the quality of the fish was excellent and it was well executed.



Sunshine Roll- This is a new roll that Miku has added to its menu since opening its new location and Hubby was keen to try it since he has had pretty much everything else on the menu so far! It is again a more traditional sushi roll, with wasabi marinated tuna and cucumber in the middle and red tuna wrapped around the outside. It is topped with wasabi, jalapeño, golden tobiko and a wasabi cream. With all of this wasabi (which we both love!), we were expecting an explosion of flavours, but we were a bit underwhelmed. While the fish was again top quality and very fresh, the cream sauce tasted "off" to us and did not taste of wasabi at all. While Hubby pretty much worships everything else on the menu, this dish was barely "OK" in his opinion.


Miku also has a nice selection of desserts which we decided to pass on since we were pretty stuffed after all that food (oh ya, did I forget to mention the second plate of Salmon Oishi?). Fortunately, unlike most restaurants these days, Miku offers some pretty amazing mint chocolates on the way out the door which are a perfect little treat to finish off the palate.

What a pleasure it was to dine at Miku's new location. They have brought their same great Oceanwis-inspired menu to this beautiful space right on the water. I anticipate that they will be quite successful here, attracting the same business lunch crowd as well as the cruise ship tourists, who will be treated to a unique Vancouver sushi experience overlooking the picturesque scenery that Vancouverites often take for granted. Miku will become an ambassador for our spectacular city, a role which it is more than ready to embrace.  
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