L and I had a chaotic day. We’d been house hunting for a couple of months, but nothing had ever caught our eye… until that fateful day when we met our awesome realtor, B. He took us to 3 townhouses in the Kilarney area and within 1 hour, we found our new home. In less than 24 hours, we made our offer and it was accepted. Seeing as we were too emotionally exhausted to cook the next day, we decided to go out for dinner. With its therapeutic, serene ambience, we thought it was appropriate to have our celebratory dinner at Red Ember. It also helped that before heading back to Vancouver, AY bought us a $100 gift certificate.
We ordered a few things that we saw on Peaches’ blog. I trust her opinion. One thing Peaches won’t do in her review is candy-coat the food. We ordered our usual large assorted sashimi ($32.99), chef choice nigiri ($18.99), Red Ember roll ($12.99) and 4 pieces of aburi sushi ($2.50).
To start, our server Christina brought over a complimentary taster – a new roll created by the sushi chef, Calvin Chu. Christina presented the roll and told us it was Calvin’s special roll. When I asked if the roll was called “Calvin’s Special Roll”, she giggled and said no, it was just a special roll that he created. Instead of nori, the roll was wrapped with a skinless piece of cucumber. We were each presented a piece of the roll in a glass. The roll was filled with soft buttery avocado and raw salmon, crowned with a piece of fresh mango, grated homemade pickled, golden tobiko and a garlicky, citrusy sauce. It was very refreshing taster that set the tone for dinner.
A bowl of miso soup came with assorted nigiri. Christina brought over an extra bowl in the case that we wanted to share it. I like the miso at Red Ember. The miso has a richness and depth that my instant soup version sorely lacks, though I think I prefer Wa’s version.
Our order of aburi arrived – two long pieces of tuna and salmon. The tuna and salmon was lightly seared and garnished with a pickled mixture. The top of each was barely kissed with the torch, so that the remainder of the fish was left untouched (i.e. raw). This dish was L’s favourite; he enjoyed the subtle sweetness of the BBQ sauce.
About the same time we received our sashimi platter, Christina brought over the chef’s choice assorted nigiri. The platter included: hamachi; surf clam; salmon; tuna; eel; beef; scallop; and snapper. I loved the presentation, particularly the garnishes on each nigiri. I really enjoyed the hamachi – the flesh was tender and easily tore apart with my chopsticks. The flavour was pleasant; it tasted a bit like tuna but lighter and fresher. As usual, the surf clam was excellent – tender, sweet, with a bit of a chew. The salmon was smooth, buttery and beautifully marbled. The tuna was a delicate pink colour, the texture was firm but soft enough that it melts in your mouth. I got to sample the eel as L thinks it taste like dirt. Personally, I enjoy the soft, smoky taste and the sesame sprinkled on top gave it some texture. The beef nigiri was flavourful, I like the topping of minced green onion and spicy carrot pickles. Surprisingly, my favorite was the smoked salmon, mostly because of the harmony of flavours. The piece of smoked salmon was layered with a long slice of avocado, bound with nori, garnished with a sour cream concoction and sprinkled with bright red tobiko.
Next up was the highlight of my meal – the Red Ember roll. Normally, I don’t like my rolls deep-fried because I think it ruins the freshness of the food. However, this roll would be the exception. We were presented with 6 pieces of sushi. Not only was each piece topped with different ingredients, but the filling of each roll was different too. Each bite was amazing – the outside of the roll was warm and crunchy on the outside, but the middle was soft and filled with either crab, tuna, salmon, smoked salmon or tempura salmon. The toppings included: creamy Cajun prawns with a touch of sweetness; tangy seaweed salad, silky smooth chopped scallop, spicy chopped tuna and spicy chopped salmon.
The food at Red Ember was so good, you want to slow down to savour the flavours. In a month, we will no longer live minutes away from Red Ember, but we’ll make a point of visiting whenever we crave some stellar sashimi and rolls.