the real find, not the knockoff,
When Lady Gaga tremendously performed a medley of songs from the “Sound of Music” to the approval of the 2015 Oscar audience (including Fraulien Maria herself, Julie Andrews), people were shocked. Anyone who has attended a Lady Gaga concert shouldn’t be, but I understand the surprise. The singer is known more for her stunts (emerging from an egg and over the top stage theatrics etc).
However in my opinion Lady Gaga doesn’t need the outrageous spectacles because she has the vocal talents to shine on her own. Similarly, I feel the same way about Kishimoto.
The whimsical lighted garnishes (pretty but really don’t contribute to the food), and the manufactured crowds outside the eatery due its no reservation and restrictive queuing policies are unnecessary. The food at Kishimoto is great on its own.
Tethered to the front of restaurant (why can’t we just leave our telephone number???), Speedy and I waited 40 minutes for a table on a chilly evening. While Speedy went back to our parking meter to plug in some more money, I placed our order.
Our first dish, the crispy beet salad, was impressive. The beets were cut into threads, deep-fried and presented in a visually impactful mound on top of a bed of dressed salad greens. The beets retained their earthy sweetness and when mixed in with the rest of the leafy vegetables provided a great crunch. I thought this was a creative way to re-imagine the beet salad.
The Okra Yamakake was Speedy’s pick. Okra in Japanese cuisine dates back to the end of 19thcentury and the dish had Speedy skipping down her childhood’s memory lane; the dish was just like her mom’s version.
The cubes of ahi tuna and chopped okra were fresh, well prepared and tasted great with the addition of soy sauce and nori. Unfortunately for me, the appy was super slimy and I am just not use to eating okra raw like that. However, Speedy was on a happy nostalgic cloud and joyfully finished the dish, so Y.M.M.V.
One of the things I keep hearing about Kishimoto is their near perfect knockoff of Miku’s signature Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi. With the first bite, Kishimoto’s Salmon Oshisushi is delicious; it’s a near perfect forgery. The only differences from Miku’s original are:
- The pieces are not uniform: some pieces are skinnier, some have a bigger salmon centre.
- The sauce used at the Commercial Drive eatery is not as creamy and nuanced.
- It’s $3 cheaper
As tasty as it was, I was not as impressed with this version of Salmon Oishisushi simply because it’s not an original creation and they didn’t try to do anything to improve upon.
While Speedy ordered a roll combo to round out the savoury portion of her meal, I went scouring for something more unique and found it in the special section. The Toro Kobujime nigiri was a revelation and the real reason to comeback to Kishimoto.
Kobujime is a technique from the Toyama prefecture circa the Edo period (1603 – 1867) to preserve fish. It involves slightly salting raw fish and sandwiching the sashimi between leaves of kombu. The kelp helps draw out moisture from the fish while leaving behind its natural umami flavour.
Kishimoto leaves this preparation for 24 hours and paired with soy sauce, the Toro Kobujime nigiri was an UMAMI BOMB! IT WAS JUST WOW! I could not get over how flavourful it was! The actually taste is intense and reminds of dried seafood. The toro also had a slightly drier chewier texture.
I was so happy to get another piece of Toro Kobujime nigiri in my Chef’s Choice Nigiri order. In addition to the AWESOME TORO KOBUJIME NIGIRI, I also got seared Ahi tuna, torched Toro, melted bocconcini, and flamed botan ebi (along with its crispy deep fried head).
The rice in the nigiri was great; firm so the nigiri could be picked up easily without coming apart but broke down immediately with just a chew or two. Wasabi was slightly smeared under the two tuna nigiris. All the seafood was well executed.
The bocconcini was the only piece I had issues with. By the time I had reached it, the cheese had congeled a bit and as a result the texture wasn’t great. However I feel if I had eaten it right away while it was still gooey, the bocconcini nigiri would have been good.
To end our meal we went full circle and ordered the special beet crème brule. The dessert itself tasted simply sugary like beets. I would have preferred if there was a creamy component to the flavour profile.
Although it tasted okay, its appearance was a fail. After a few digs into the dessert, the crème brule looked like chopped liver or Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress. It wasn’t pretty and not very appetizing to look at.
However, the dessert, along with some other items we tried, illustrated that the Kishimoto kitchen is willing to be creative and produce original dishes that are a little out of the box.
Personally, the crispy beet salad, and nigiri (especially the toro kobujime nigiri), exemplifies the skill present at Kishimoto. If it were easier to get a table, I would frequently be at Kishimoto just for the Kobujime nigiri.