I have been wanting to try Bistro Sakana ever since I discovered their menu in late January, which featured Aburi (seared) sushi. With good ratings and a focus on modern Japanese cuisine, the prospects of a delicious Aburi sushi dish seemed good. I also discovered that Bistro Sakana is consistently featured in both Dine Out Vancouver and Taste of Yaletown, so not wanting to spend over $50 to get a good sample of dishes, I decided to wait an agonizing 9 months to try the restaurant out during Taste of Yaletown 2015. At least I had other sushi restaurants to go to in order to pass the time...
Located in the heart of Yaletown's street of expensive restaurants, Bistro Sakana is marked by its sleek black awning and subtle signage. Almost everything about the restaurant's appearance says "higher priced," from its covered patio to its lack of neon lights that say "SUSHI" in loud capital letters. Bistro Sakana is Japanese-operated, but just by looking at the names of the dishes on the menu, you can tell that some of the dishes have a French influence.
Sockeye Salmon Miso Chowder - A
Having walked to Bistro Sakana from Pacific Centre (I was too lazy to go down the stairs to the Canada Line, if that makes any sense), I decided to start with something warm by selecting the Sockeye Salmon Miso Chowder. They nailed this one, as the chowder was deliciously hearty and creamy. The soft grilled bits of sockeye blended perfectly with the rich broth. There was a substantial number of soft, juicy pieces of various vegetables buried at the bottom of the chowder, which made the small chowder slightly more filling.
Next came the entrée, an exquisitely plated platter with the Wild Sockeye Jalapeño Aburi Hakozushi, the Toro Red Chili Aburi Hakozushi, the Hamachi Shio-koji Yaki, the Crunchy Filo Scallop & Prawn, and the Prosciutto Roll.
Prosciutto Roll - B+
Starting from the top left, this roll was wrapped with parma numero uno prosciutto and contained fresh ataulfo mango and goat cheese. It was dressed with a drizzle of sweet unagi sauce and a few dabs of basil-shiso pesto. As much as I despise cream cheese in my sushi rolls, the soft, fluffy goat cheese worked for me, and the mango provided a nice fruity flavour inside the roll. The prosciutto was sliced very thin and didn't do much in terms of flavour. Although neatly constructed and well-executed for what it is, this isn't the roll for everyone.
Crunchy Filo Scallop & Prawn - A-
Served on a small bed of mashed potatoes, the Crunchy Filo Scallop & Prawn reminded me of tempura, but instead of tempura batter, they used lightly fried fine filo dough instead. I thought the layer of filo was just a hair too thick, but the meaty prawn went well with the miso hollandaise dipping sauce, which had a slight balsamic-like flavour. I enjoyed the scallop for its ample juiciness and its savoury seafood flavour.
Hamachi Shio-koji Yaki - A-
The Hamachi Shio-koji Yaki was a grilled fresh yellowtail fillet marinated in shio-koji seasoning and dressed with butter soy reduction. Two edamame beans and a two shimeji mushrooms graced the top of the fillet. With help from the seasoning, the mouthwatering fillet was very savoury, but it was very slightly overdone.
Wild Sockeye Jalapeño Aburi Hakozushi - A-
Toro Red Chili Aburi Hakozushi - A-
Toro Red Chili Aburi Hakozushi - A-
The Wild Sockeye Jalapeño Aburi Hakozushi (seared box-shaped sushi) was decent. It had a nice spicy, smoky flavour. Under each piece of jalapeño was a small piece of ponzu jelly, which added a tangy flavour. It doesn't really match up to Minami's version, but it is cheaper ($14 for 7 pieces). The Toro Red Chili Aburi Hakozushi was slightly better, with a pleasantly soft layer of albacore tuna belly on top. I enjoyed the sushi rice, which was adequately soft with ample moisture.
Duck à L'Orange Sakana - A-
After seeing the Duck à L'Orange Sakana under the Tapas section, I was dying of curiosity, so I decided to order it separately. Can duck really be paired with orange? The duck fulfilled its description on the menu and was succulent with a savoury roasted flavour. The orange was some of the sweetest and juiciest I have ever had, and the potato frite crown on top added an additional edge of crunchiness. The thin slices of orange were successful in providing juiciness to the duck, but despite the fact that they tried really hard to make this dish work, I felt that the flavours of the orange and duck began to compete with each other.
Macha Tiramisu - A
Finally, it was time for me to get drunk with the Macha Tiramisu, which came with a richly layered green tea tiramisu infused with Japanese apricot liqueur. The custard part of the tiramisu harmonized perfectly with the sprinkles of matcha powder on top, while the cakey part at the bottom had a strong green tea flavour, which was further accented by the apricot liqueur.
The service was very friendly and attentive, and one of the servers even came to converse with me in order to keep me entertained during the 20-minute wait for the Duck à L'Orange Sakana. While there were no mind-blowing dishes, everything that I was served consistently showed innovation and a high level of care in preparation. Despite me trying not to, I still managed to spend over $50 on dinner. Make that over $60 if we include tips. Darn my inability to hold back at fancy sushi restaurants!