Moving to Calgary has raised my appreciation for “good” sushi. When I lived in Vancouver, I loved eating at sushi joints that offered value (Sushi Garden, Tokyo Joe’s Sushi Factory, Zero One, etc.). However, in Calgary, there is no such thing as cheap and good sushi. You either go to the best of the best (Wa’s, Red Ember, Sushi Club) or choke down the worst of the worst. On a recent trip back to my hometown, I decided to treat my best friend, AY, and LW, to a dinner at one of Vancouver’s swankier Japanese restaurants, Miku.
Miku was abuzz with the high-energy radiating from its employees. As we walked to our table, numerous chefs and servers acknowledged us with a smile and a friendly greeting in Japanese. I wish I knew what they were saying – for all I know, they could be saying, “Welcome, idiot. You have no idea what I said but you just smiled and nodded in response.”
Once seated, we were also treated to a free show. At the adjacent table, there was an older man with a younger and vastly more attractive woman who insisted on switching servers. The reason? Apparently, they wanted a Japanese server. I wonder if they thought the ethnicity of the server would effect the taste of the food. Sigh. Moving on from the freak show to the food…
It was a sunny evening, so we requested to sit on the patio. The tables were spaced well apart so that we didn’t feel cramped nor in close proximity to our lovely neighbours. As the night grew cooler, we used the blankets that were draped over the chairs.
For our dishes, I ordered: gyoza, ebi fritters, tofu salad, Miku roll, Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, and the chopped scallop roll. The first to arrive to the table was the spicy pork gyoza. Miku’s version of gyoza was unlike anything I’ve ever tried, the presentation was phenomenal. Each gyoza was presented with a saucy concoction of marinated vegetables, a crispy wafer and topped with a whole basil leaf. The flavour of the basil really popped out and went well with the citrus notes in the sauce. The filling was juicy and well seasoned, consisting of pork, cabbage, shiitake, onions and shrimp.
The tofu salad was also out of the ordinary. I was surprised to see that the miso-marinated crumbled tofu was light and fluffy. The texture of the tofu went well with the fancy mixed greens, crispy topping, sweet cherry tomatoes and ponzu dressing. Creamy, crunchy, and delicately seasoned, this is one of the best salads I’ve consumed in my life. I’m sure this isn’t a healthy salad – anything that tastes this delicious can’t be good for me.
Speaking of unhealthy, the next dish that arrived were the ebi fritters. The five tiger prawns were beer battered, speckled with parsley and drizzled with a chili cream sauce. The spice was subtle – the chili powder was only lightly dusted onto the sauce. I’m a fan of Gyoza King’s ebi-mayo, but Miku’s prawns blew me away. The prawns were large, crunchy and sweet and the batter melted in your mouth.
The Aburi Salmon Oshi sushi was my favourite dish of the night. The sushi rice was pressed into a rectangle, twice layered with tender salmon, then topped with Miku special sauce and a slice of jalapeno. The sauce taste like it was mayo-based and torched. The combination worked well – the creamy sauce melded the taste of the salmon and jalapeno together. I couldn’t imagine ruining the taste with soy sauce.
The Miku Roll was also a winner. The Miko Roll is filled with raw salmon, crab and cucumber, generously rolled in tobiko, and then topped with Miku’s sauce. I thought the flavours were amazing. The special sauce melded well with the salty pop of the tobiko.
The only disappointment of the night was the chopped scallop roll with tobiko. The texture was pleasing with its combination of soft and crusty, but the blanket of tempura bits overwhelmed the scallops. I thought this roll was boring and bland and would greatly benefit from some of Miku’s old razzle dazzle.
The King Roll fared better than the chopped scallop roll. While cheaper than the Miku roll, the King Roll only had 4 pieces. The roll was filled with fresh shrimp tempura, fluffy snow crab, avocado, and roe with chili cream sauce. I thought this roll would also benefit from a stronger tasting sauce.
Overall, we had an excellent dining experience at Miku. Service was first-rate, the food was superb, and most importantly, I couldn’t want for better company. I can’t wait for my next visit to Vancouver to try Miku again. Hopefully, the only spectacle we will witness is making copious amounts of delicious food disappear in record time.