Fusion Restaurants

Fusion Restaurants in Vancouver: Kamei Baru by Jenn Chan

Kamei Baru

 

Kamei Royale was the Kamei family's original foray into the Vancouver restaurant scene. For 40 years it was an institution in the neighbourhood that was once commonly called Lil Ginza; the stretch of Alberni Street between Burrard and Bute Streets. As a resident of Alberni Street I still call it Lil Ginza and hope desperately it catches back on! Kamei Baru, Japanese for bar, is a more casual atmosphere, but with the same quality that has helped the Kamei and Ebisu brands expand throughout the Lower Mainland. 

 

Naomi, our very lovely server, assured me my Yuzu Margarita wasn't topped with caramelized onions as she placed it in front of me; "phew" I thought as I took a large sip. Deon explained it as a hybrid between an orange and a lemon and it's newly in my top five fruits! JC ordered the Lychee Ball: Lychee liqueur, peach liqueur, apple juice and garnished with, you guessed it, Lychee balls. "Sweet and fruity, the liqueurs are barely noticeable, a dangerous combo.

 

Yuzu Margarita
 Lychee Ball

Lychee Ball

 

Raw fish isn't for everyone. The idea alone scares some people, but, luckily, Jenn and I aren't among those people. It would be a valid estimate to say that I have eaten my weight in salmon sashimi in my lifetime and I'm a big boy. Like 220 LBs of big. That's a lot of poor little fishies, but it's them or me. The sashimi platter at Kamei, Hamachi, Atlantic and Sockeye Salmons and Albacore Tuna, is world class. I've ordered sashimi at small mom and pop spots and 4 diamond eateries and Kamei Baru's offering holds its own in terms of quality of fish and freshness with anyone!

 

 Sashimi Platter: Hamachi, Atlantic Salmon, Sockeye Salmon & Albacore Tuna

Sashimi Platter: Hamachi, Atlantic Salmon, Sockeye Salmon & Albacore Tuna

Sashimi Platter: Hamachi, Atlantic Salmon, Sockeye Salmon & Albacore Tuna

 

Up next on our adventure was the Lobster Miso Chowder Pot Pie. It's the first and only time I've ever, ever seen this on a menu or even heard of it, but it should be everywhere! A flaky, heavenly, pastry hiding a steaming bowl of Japanese inspired Miso seafood chowder. Big bites of delicious lobster throughout, corn, celery and tender potatoes round out his incredible dish. Right on the heels of the pot pie, which vanished at top speed in a whirl of duelling spoons, came the Baru wings, Salmon Motoyaki Battera and BBQ Cuttlefish. The chicken wings, bathed in a unique balsamic teriyaki sauce, stack jup against any in the city; very, very good! 

 

 Lobster Miso Chowder Pot Pie

Lobster Miso Chowder Pot Pie

Lobster Miso Chowder Pot Pie
 Baru Wings

Baru Wings

 

The Salmon Motoyaki Battera is pressed Atlantic Salmon with Motoyaki sauce on sushi rice and blow torched. If you're thinking that sounds good you're right! Cuttlefish could look scary if you're not a big seafood person or if you're an old timey sailor with recurring nightmares of giant squid capsizing your ship, but there's nothing to be scared of! This squid's cousin is tender and delicious and, when dunked into the Japanese mayo, the world's best mayo, it is a flavour explosion!

 

 Salmon Motoyaki Battera

Salmon Motoyaki Battera

 BBQ Cuttlefish

BBQ Cuttlefish

BBQ Cuttlefish

 

Risking explosion we let Naomi talk us into desserts. You won't be able to tell her no either! Jenn went with the Anmitsu and I ordered the cheesecake. The presentation was lovely and the cheesecake, made in-house, was nice and light with a delicious crust! Served with whipped cream, fresh strawberries, blueberries and rich piece of milk chocolate it was an excellent cap to the meal! Jenn's dessert, of the traditional Japanese variety, consisted of green tea ice cream, mochi balls, fresh strawberries, red Sean and whipped cream. Very good mixture of flavours and she really enjoyed it!

 

 Cheesecake

Cheesecake

 Anmitsu with Matcha Ice Cream

Anmitsu with Matcha Ice Cream

 

This wasn't our first time at Kamei Baru and it won't be our last. Centrally located just off Burrard Street on Smithe and steps to the bustling Scotiabank Movie Theatre it is a very convenient location for downtowners and there wasn't an empty seat in the house on a drizzly Friday night. Awesome energy, great food and well above average service! 

 

Kamei Baru
 
 

Fusion Restaurants in Vancouver: Ebisu by Jenn Chan

Ebisu Exterior

 

When you walk into an Indian restaurant it's a good sign when there are tables upon tables of Indian families hunkering down over plates of simmering tika masala and ripping into fresh naan bread. It's no different in pho joints where Nguyen's and Ngo's slurp happily on big, steamy bowls or taquerias where most customers are obscured by large sombreros. Okay that last one not so much because Mexicans wouldn't be caught dead in gaudy tourist souvenirs, but you get what I mean. At Ebisu on Robson the Japanese have found their spot and staked their claim. It's a good sign, trust me!

 

Ebisu Interior

 

Our night started off, as good nights do, with a couple of cocktails: the DragonBall and Summer Dream. The former being a sake, mango passion Alize, peach Schnapps, Calpis and soda creation that takes the subtle bubble from the soda and melds it with the sweetness of the Schnapps and tartness of the sake perfectly. The latter a mixture of watermelon liqueur, peach Schnapps, Citron Vodka and tropical fruit punch mix... Yes, as good as it sounds! Not out of place in an upscale Japanese fusion hot spot or a Hawaiian beach.

 

 Dragonball Cocktail & Summer Dream

Dragonball Cocktail & Summer Dream

 

All of a sudden out pops Yohei, our gracious host and Ebisu's manager, with the Supreme Sashimi Salad. Salmon, tuna, Ebi, hamachi and clam on a small mountain of organic greens with a rich, creamy dressing. Absolutely lovely. It was followed quickly by the Salmon Carpaccio which was a nice Atlantic salmon marinated in sou olive oil and topped with citrus white wine mayo and garlic chips. Top ten mayos of my life!  The salmon was tender, like pudding tender, and it had a nice lemon kick from the mayo. All in all a very, very good Carpaccio!

 

 Supreme Sashimi Salad

Supreme Sashimi Salad

Supreme Sashimi Salad
 Salmon Carpaccio

Salmon Carpaccio

 

A second course means a second cocktail and I went with the Angel: Blueberry Stoli, Cointreau, lemon lime mix and blueberry juice. The martini kick one would expect with very balanced flavours, very good! Just as I took a second sip out came the Hamachi Inferno and Cherry Blossom. The inferno, named for the at-table torching it receives I'd wager, is a Japanese Amberjack served aburi style on a brick of rice. The torching melts the mayo that covers it into a sticky, flavourful shellac. The Cherry Blossom is Red Ahi Bigeye Tuna layered with Japanese caviar, and has mango, avocado, sesame and poached prawns. The dish of the night! Topped off with wakame salad and ikura it is a a different taste per chew. The sweetness of the mango and avacado are tempered each time an ikura pops and the caviar compliments the elegant fish in a perfect way! Add to the mix Ebisu's famous Beef Short Ribs marinated in a "Korean influenced" BBQ with its cute, mini BBQ grill and the meal was a home run, a touchdown, a gooooaaaallll!

 

 The Angel

The Angel

 Hamachi Inferno

Hamachi Inferno

 Cherry Blossom Roll

Cherry Blossom Roll

 Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

 

But we're not done! Out comes a Japanese crèpe that could have been a meal itself, football sized. A freshly made, near paper thing, light pastry enveloping a cache of fresh strawberries and delicious strawberry ice cream. Come on! Top it off with home made whipped cream on top and a drizzle of strawberry sauce and I will come back just for this dessert. I promise you that! Not knowing my choice could have fed a table of six Jenn ordered the Monkey Magic. Deep fried bananas, sweet red bean, a scoop of mango ice cream and a scoop of green tea ice cream drizzled with chocolate. Jenn was so enamoured with it that she went full Mary Poppins when describing the dish: "deep friend ban-o-na". She spat out a little bit of it in a fit of laughter, I laughed, other tables gawked. We win! In all the dining experience at Ebisu on Robson is near perfect. Excellent ambience, colourful, calm yet vibrant, and exceptional food. There will be something on the menu for everyone and you'll be glad you listened to us!

 

 Japanese Style Crepe - Strawberry

Japanese Style Crepe - Strawberry

 Monkey Magic with Matcha & Mango Ice cream

Monkey Magic with Matcha & Mango Ice cream

IMG_7939.jpg
 

Fusion Restaurants in Vancouver: Sai Woo by Jenn Chan

Sai Woo

 

Sai Woo's dining room blends the old and new together seamlessly. The exposed brick walls and original floor mingle with the modern bar, elegant 'button' light fixtures and LED adorned trees. The energy in the room is amazing, music rumbles and tables of 20 something's chat enthusiastically while tables of retirees cheers each other with glasses of red wine. 

 

Sai Woo

Sai Woo Food Menu

 Sai Woo Drink Menu

Sai Woo Drink Menu

 

We start our adventure with their Jade Dragon: muddled strawberries, vodka, lime juice, guava and prosecco. Designed for two and served in a large Chinese vase it is delightfully sweet with the delicious strawberries overpowering the lime juice and guava. 

 

 Jade Dragon: Muddled Strawberries, Vodka, Lime Juice, Guava & Prosecco

Jade Dragon: Muddled Strawberries, Vodka, Lime Juice, Guava & Prosecco

 

And then the fun really started! Our affable server Julie came bounding over with the first dish she recommended; the fried cauliflower and tofu. I don't usually like cauliflower, but the subtle spice on this dish really makes it pop! I ate more cauliflower at Sai Woo than I've ever eaten before! The tofu, another food on my 'naw list', shared the cauliflower's spice and was similarly delicious. 

 

Halfway through devouring our cauliflower Julie came back with Sai Woo's wok fried famous chicken wings and Vietnamese lemongrass chicken bao. The wings come crisp and layered in fried kale, scallions, challots, ginger and Asian sauce vierge. They are delicious! I am a bao fan and I don't care who knows it. If they made mattresses out of bao I would throw my newly purchased Posturepedic California king in the garbage and buy one. Without hesitation. If you haven't tried it think of bread and then multiply the deliciousness by roughly one billion. The chicken was nicely prepared and the Sriracha mayo was a perfect compliment to the pickled vegetables. Fantastic!

 

 Deep Fried Cauliflower & Tofu   

Deep Fried Cauliflower & Tofu

 

 Wok Fried Chicken Wings

Wok Fried Chicken Wings

 Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Bao

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Bao

 

In between courses Julie suggested we try The Anna May and I decided on the Sai Woo Sour. Bombay Sapphire East, Benedictine, ginger syrup, lemon juice and egg white make us the Sai Woo Sour and it strikes the perfect blend between tart and tangy. A strong 9/10 on the cocktail meter! The Anna May, named for an early Chinese pioneer in English cinema, consists of Finlandia vodka, muddled mint and blueberries, lime juice, crème violette and sparkling cava. Blueberries are a super good for a reason and it's not their incredible antioxidant properties, that's a common misconception, it's actually because they overpower and defeat every flavour they're out up against! This drink is blueberry forward and very tasty! Hats off to the bartender for hiding 2 oz of liquor in such a small, flavourful package! 

 

 Sai Woo Sour

Sai Woo Sour

 The Anna May

The Anna May

 

Out came our main courses and did not disappoint: Korean Scallion Pancakes with Korean barbecue pork shoulder, ponzu and kimchi, Szechuan Ginger Beef cooked sous vide with crispy shallots and Chinese vegetables and Cantonese salted fish fried rice. Where to start, where to start... As with parents favouring one child over the other I'm hesitant to state which dish I like the best, but I liked the pancakes, like a lot! Tender and fresh, thin pancakes covered, absolutely covered, in incredible pork shoulder. Get it! Following closely was the Ginger beef. Very closely. It is cooked sous vide for 12 hours and bathed in black vinegar, garlic, Chinese wine and fermented peppers.  So nice you'll wish you ordered it twice! The rice dish was the perfect compliment to the other protein dishes and everything disappeared quickly!

 

 Korean Scallion Pancakes

Korean Scallion Pancakes

 Cantonese Salted Fish Fried Rice

Cantonese Salted Fish Fried Rice

 Szechuan Ginger Beef

Szechuan Ginger Beef

 

Julie suggested we try both of Sai Woo's desserts offerings and who are we to turn down our new best friend? In between time I tested the Woo Cantina because of the name wWoo. El Jimador Tequila, ginger peppercorn sauce, lime juice, egg white and peppercorns. The sting of the tequila is subdued by the tang of the ginger and lime and it all works really well together. 8/10 on the cocktail meter, definitely a must drink! Enjoying my first sip of tequila goodness our nama chocolate and matcha coconut panna cotta arrived. Japanese truffle terrine, Yuzu curd and maldon make up the nama chocolate. Think of fudge crossed with mousse crossed with heaven. Matcha is an acquired taste. One I have yet to acquire, but Jenn wolfed it down like, well, a wolf. 

 

 Desserts: Nama Chocolate & Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

Desserts: Nama Chocolate & Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

 Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

 Nama Chocolate

Nama Chocolate

 

Sai Woo is a feather in Chinatown's cap! Delicious flavours, hip vibe and incredible cocktails. If and when you go ask for Julie and just eat whatever she suggest, you'll thank me!

 

 

Sai Woo