Review: Miku Restaurant

by pick on November 30, 2008

Editor’s note: The following post is from Pick, who was kind enough to invite me to the restaurant opening event for Miku last week.  Since I was my forgetful self, I forgot to bring my camera and take pictures of the event so Pick decided to help me out with a review when he went back to the restaurant the weekend after the opening event.  Thanks Pick! :)

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(Hopefully you’ll excuse the low quality images; I forgot to change my camera settings before visiting Miku. However, I will be back again within the next two weeks with new pictures and a follow-up review!)

On November 18th, Gigi, along with my friends Ju and Youki, attended the launch party for Miku restaurant. Miku, which means “beautiful sky” in Japanese, is run by the Tora Corporation and named after owner Seigo Nakamura’s daughter. The debut launch party was fun and upbeat, with live music performances, a packed crowd, and delectable appetizers (especially the Aburi salmon); which prompted me to return to Miku for a second taste.

R and I arrived at approximately 7:30pm to a semi-full Miku restaurant during their actual grand opening last Thursday. We were quickly greeted and seated by a friendly maitre ‘d. The Miku menu had a wide assortment of aburi (which means slightly seared) sushi, sashimi, and everything else. We were both overwhelmed with choices so we decided to go with the $120 Premium 9 course omakase, and the $90 regular 9 course omakase (to compare the difference). For those who are unfamiliar, omakase menus are created on the spot depending on what the chef has fresh in stock and wants to serve.

The majority of the dishes served on the two omakase menus were relatively the same with some slight differences. The first dish that came was our three appetizers.

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On the left we had a tomato with tempura, in the middle a piece of salmon with black pepper on the top, and on the right, ebi mayo, all served under some balsamic drizzle. Each appetizer had its own distinct flavor and texture. The ingredients tasted fresh and having ebi mayo served as cold ebi was a refreshing change from the regular ebi mayo that is served in other restaurants in the lower mainland. One of my favorite dishes!

Next came the sashimi platter with 3 different soy sauces. The left soy was light and spicy, the middle thick and full of flavor (my favorite), and on the right a lighter not as overpowering soy sauce. The regular $90 omakase included an assortment of sashimi: hamachi (yellow tail), scallop, big eye tuna, and a tamago salmon roll. The premium omakase also included sea urchin. Each slice of sashimi was masterfully cut in relatively equal slices of generous portions. Definitely some of the freshest sashimi I’ve ever tried.

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Our third dish was an individually cooked clam chowder. The chowder was a lot lighter than the “typical” North American chunky chowder, and was light and flavorful with clams, potatoes, carrots, and onions. I prefer Manhattan style more, but this one definitely tasted healthier.

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The time our fourth dish came out, we had been seated for almost 2 hours. Our fourth dish was an Aburi mackerel. The mackerel was a tad bit salty and disappointingly dry. It came with some regular vegetable garnishing and some mashed potatoes.

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After our mackerel, we had an amuse-bouche of raspberry sorbet topped with a biscuit and a slice of chocolate. The amuse-bouche was served in a large martini glass and was too sweet. Also, it was counted as a “meal” when amuse-bouche is typically included in meals as a “bonus”. I was definitely not impressed by the sorbet or the fact that the amuse-bouche counted as a course.

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As I felt the quality of food was progressively getting worse, the kobe beef redeemed the restaurant’s food. Although the beef was served with the same garnishing as the mackerel, and plated in the same way, the beef was tender and full of mouth-watering flavor. The regular omakase menu came with regular beef, which R noted as a little too well-done. At this time, both of us were getting full.

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Next came the most unimpressive salad I had ever tasted. It was a well decorated bed of greens that could hardly rival the taste of grass. The dressing seemed more or less absent, and the portion was small (thankfully, I guess I should say).

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Our final course before our dessert was our sushi – the moment we were both waiting for. Seigo, the owner of Miku, personally came by to let R and I know that the rolls had an abundance of rich natural flavor and didn’t need any soy sauce. At his advice, we both omitted our soy and tried the aburi sushi as is. For the regular omakase (featured on the left), we had hamachi, big eye tuna, squid, and two Miku rolls. On the right, we had hamachi, prawn, eel, and two miku rolls. Miku rolls included crab meat, sea urchin, mayo, and a couple other ingredients (I don’t quite remember) all served aburi style. Seigo was definitely right when he said the rolls were good without soy sauce! Each piece of sushi tasted fresh and tasty with its own unique flavors.

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Finally we had our chocolate cake for dessert served with orange (with rine) puree, raspberry coulis, and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The cake was relatively standard, but the side of puree gave it an extra kick that I still haven’t decided if I liked or not.

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Overall, my first experience at Miku was slightly disappointing. Our dinner lasted approximately 3 hours with service being rather inattentive and uneducated on the food offerings (although our server did admit to her first day of work). The table next to ours, which made a show of their big camera and food critique-esque presence, received clearly better service; including hand towels, quick attentive service, and the general manager of Miku, Tai Hasumi, frequently dropping by to ensure a pleasant evening. Seigo, however, was definitely a plus to my dining experience. Although his English wasn’t the best, he made a genuine effort to make both R and my dining experience more enjoyable by personally dropping off dishes to us and asking how the food was.

An acquaintance I bumped into at Miku (who has quite expensive taste) told me his Miku dining experience was the “best Japanese in Vancouver”, so I will definitely have to give Miku another try before coming to a solid conclusion. Look out for my second review of Miku in a couple of weeks!

Details:
2 – 1055 W. Hastings St, Vancouver (Guinness Tower)
Tel: 604-568-3900

Summary:
Service: [rating:3]
Food: [rating:3]
Price: $$$$

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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