by janet on August 1st, 2007

We were in Vancouver, and ready for some SEAFOOD! We put our names in at some seafood joint and were told to wait 45 minutes. We walked along Yaletown and were sidetracked by the tasting menu at Shiru-bay, which sounded AMAZING. And only $40 Canadian! (Wait till you see everything that we got below and your jaw will drop at the price.) I was chomping at the bit, but others in my party were not so sure since Shiru-bay had its own 40 minute wait. We decided to go see what our wait status was at the other place, but as we were leaving the panicked greeter ran out and said “We just had a party leave early!!! We can seat you right now!!!” Sketchy, but we accepted and were escorted to a gorgeous corner table.

The tasting menu had eleven courses, making for a luxuriously long dinner. You will see my photos change below as things go from daylight to candlelight.

The first two courses, served together, were Negitoro and Garlic Toast – Japanese style tuna tartare with avocado, served with toasted garlic baguette, and Botan Ebi Sashimi – Fresh Spotted Prawn sashimi with wasabi soy. The kitchen was extremely accommodating of my deathly crustacean allergy and substituted toro sashimi for me, which was fabulous.

The star, though, was the garlic toast. Fusion cuisine can sometimes get hairy, but dishes like these are just brilliant. I mean, tuna AND avocado AND garlic? I would have preferred my toast a little more golden and it wasn’t too beautiful to look at, but it was beautiful to taste, and I will definitely try this at home.

Kobe beef carpaccio was next – slightly seared and thinly sliced Kobe beef, served with Fuji apple frise salad, truffle oil, and machego cheese. I mean, really. No one can read the description of this dish and not die on the spot. Shimi said, “MMMM the apples are so good!” and I thought, “KOBE beef and all she can talk about are the apples?” but it was true. This was my absolute favorite dish of the night. I now have carpaccio cravings in the middle of the night and the middle of the day. The beef was excellent and had zero smelliness. The silkiness of the oil with the sweetness and crunch of the apple and the ever-so-slight chewiness of the beef – lord!

Next was the Hiaburi shime saba – Rice vinegar cured Mackerel seared at the table, served as sashimi and salad. They came first to sear it at our table, which was great, but then they said something incomprehensible and took it away. Nooooooo! But it came back soon thereafter. Saba has TONS of fat on it, which is why, I think, we cure it with vinegar to cut through the oiliness. To put it in a salad with tart (or should I say “tanjy?”) dressing is genius. The sashimi was also great – served with lemon and, I was so pleased to see, REAL wasabi, not the squeeze out o’ a tube kind and certainly not the powder shit. Fresh wasabi tastes like refined horseradish and is much milder than the crap that comes in your sushi bento. Seared fish makes me nervous – I’ve had too many seared Ahi tunas that have the texture of solid applesauce sewn through with inedible thread. [Shudder] I needn’t have worried. The crispy skin melted into the firm outer layer, which cut right through to the soft, raw layer, all the while filling my mouth with yummy fish fat creaminess and fresh lemon.

I don’t know that I would have put the regular sashimi platter after the intensity of the saba sashimi, but I’m complaining. It looked so appealing that I dug in immediately and forgot to take a photo! I had to settle for an in-action shot. We Japanese don’t commonly eat salmon sashimi, and I’m not sure why – it is SO good. Salmon is so much better raw than cooked, as would later be evidenced by this very meal.

Next was Shiru-bay’s famous Ebi Chili Mayo – deep fried Tiger Prawns served with their original chili mayo sauce, topped with almonds and wonton chips. This was off-limits to me but the others’ eyes rolled into their heads when they tasted this. Before my body suddenly became crazy allergic to shrimp, I had had many a delicious ebi chilis in Tokyo, so I could sort of understand what they were going through. I needn’t have despaired, though, as the ever accommodating chef substituted the shrimp with tonkatsu, which is breaded and deep-fried pork. Instead of the usual tonkatsu sauce (like a sweet, thicker Worcestershire sauce), this one had ponzu sauce, which I thought was weird and wrong. Perhaps they mixed up the sauces with their other Tonpura dish, which is intended to have ponzu? We’ll never know.

The Smoked Black Cod was next – House smoked Alaskan cod marinated in saikyo miso, served with a sweet potato puree. While the others aahed over the sweet potato puree (I’m kind of in a non-mashed potato-of-any-kind kick), I oohed over the cod. I think fish goes best with miso, and this holds true everywhere, from my grandmother’s kitchen to haute cuisine. Forget the mac-crusted mahi mahi at Roy’s – even there, the best dish is the miso-marinated fish dish.

Right when I was feeling full, they hit us with this monster of a dish. It was Kakuni – braised pork belly with sweet soy reduction, served with Chinese steamed bun. My particular piece of pork belly could have been braised a little longer – the meat part was far tougher than the fat, making for kind of an icky textural sensation. I also could have done with gallons more of the sauce and about 1/4 of the bun. While it was fun to assemble everything together, I think this dish at this point in the meal would have been better preassembled in mini-mini buns, to be picked up delicately and dipped to the consumer’s content.

Can you believe there was more? Next was Salmon – slow roasted salmon with chipotle yuzu miso, served with Japanese ratatouille. This dish was totally extraneous. It tasted like a not-so-flavorful regular old salmon. In fact, I’m rather surprised as I type the description as I remember none of these flavors coming through.

Chock-full at this point, I was thinking to myself that I really didn’t need sushi on top of all of this.

Gosh, but it was so beautiful! It was three different kinds of sushi, and we were admonished not to use any extra soy sauce because each piece was already sauced. Being sauce-crazed, I was doubtful, but I needn’t have doubted the chef. A stroke of brilliance, I thought, was the chef’s use of the salmon roe as sauce – as they popped like little bursts of the sea, they mixed in with the rice and fish and the whole thing was quite orgasmic. Actually, I shouldn’t call it roe – did you know that roe is just a generic term for nasty bits of fish? Like, we say “sea urchin roe” but it’s not the eggs; rather, it’s the gonads and and other organs. Ewwww. But NOT ewwww, since uni is soo
o delicious. That reminds me of that awkward scene in the Top Chef Season 2 finale when Marcel picks fresh sea urchins out of the ocean and, together with Ilan, they have uni for breakfast.

Jesus, this post is getting gigantic. Perfect time to end it with dessert, which was Warm Chocolate Cake – home baked soft-centered chocolate cake, matcha whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream. While the others stormed the cake, I focused on the matcha whipped cream, which they could have sold as a mousse. Perfectly unsweet and flufferific.

All this from a chef who is TWENTY FIVE years old. Can you believe it? Kodai Uno is the youngest in a family of professional chefs, so I’ll let it go…but crap, this little shit is younger than I am! Cooking like a genius! Harumph.

Anyway, if you go to Vancouver, GO HERE. Here, I’ve even provided the address for you below.

1193 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC


5 Responses to “Shiru-bay”

  1. DJ Deer says:

    Very impressive. I love the pictures. So when are you gunna be a magazine columnist for Food & Wine?

  2. Jossi says:

    Yeeehaaawww…that meal was sooo good!Except for the salmon of course.

  3. janet says:

    DJD: I can’t use the word “fuck” if I work for Food & Wine, and also I can’t refer to poo or butt sex. So, I don’t think that’s the place for me.

    Joss: A Belgian/Venezuelan girl talking about a Japanese fusion restaurant in Canada, and you come up with “Yeeehaaawww?” This is why I love you.

  4. […] Next was the incredible grilled duck sausage with banana fingerlings, Gravenstein apples, fennel, Cipollini onions, and tarragon mustard. Shimi went first, and said, “Mmmmm, the apples!” What? Duck sausage and all she can rave about are the apples? Wait a sec! I’m having deja vu, so hard it’s making me LOL. The three of us ended up fighting over the last smears of mustard, which was freaking awesome. […]

  5. shirubia says:

    haha, it’s named after me!! jk… i totally agree with salmon being better raw. at kaitenzushi, my regimen consists of alternating negi-toro and toro-salmon. yuuuuummm

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