Saturday, January 21, 2012

Miku Restaurant: Aburi, A-blah

LULU: Before a girl's night out in downtown Vancouver, we wanted to start the evening with a semi-classy dinner in the area with our group of friends (welcome back, Steven!). Miku has been on our to-eat list for a while, so we decided to take the opportunity to cross it off our list. All of us read reviews online and were very hyped up about finally going here. The restaurant looked amazing from the outside and the servers greeted us wholeheartedly -- it seemed like we were off to a great start!

STEVEN: Good ol' yakisoba! Fry up some noodles, toss in a bit of calamari and vegetables, and top it off with tempura batter flakes - simple, right? This was one of our dishes of the night, and in hindsight, actually  my favorite one (surprisingly). I guess it isn't exactly a promising start for Miku when a seemingly elementary dish gets the most "Not Bad's" from everyone. I've got to give credit where credit is due though, I thought the crunch and flakiness of the tempura batter gave the slick noodles a new dimension you don't normally find in yakisoba.


AMY: Calamari, a staple in the world of appetizers. Can't go wrong with it, but you also can't be expecting fireworks. That was exactly the case with Miku. It was good, but it wasn't mind-blowingly-good. The one thing I noticed through this dish was the amount of care that Miku puts into it's dishes. Normally, I find that a lot of the times calamari can be extremely overlooked in terms of the detail: uneven batter and sauce randomly poured on, leaving you with both dry, bland pieces as well as soggy, overdone bits. Instead, Miku made sure that each piece was evenly battered and had a good amount of sauce drizzled.

Aburi Chicken
AMY: Our server explained that Miku's specialty was the Aburi style of cooking, so he recommended anything that had the word Aburi in it. The Aburi chicken was pretty good. It has a light, sweet flavor and the chicken was nice and juicy. I couldn't help myself from feeling that it tasted eerily similar to teriyaki chicken.

Chicken Nanban
LULU: I really liked the tartar sauce as it was absolutely delicious. It went well with the breaded chicken, and surprisingly it also went well with the Aburi Chicken that I thought tasted rather bland. I didn't really like the fact that the breaded skin was a little soggy, but I suppose that's what nanban style is like. I guess the meat could have been more tender, but perhaps my standards for chicken were simply raised too high after having the chicken karaage at Ebisu on Robson.

Tuna Sashimi
STEVEN: I'm not too educated in the fine art of sashimi appreciation, but I thought the tuna sashimi tasted pretty respectable - as you would imagine from a place like Miku - but not particularly mind-blowing either. Given all the other things on the menu, I'm not sure why we ordered this at all... 

Crunchy Scallop Roll
AMY: This was a pretty standard scallop roll. The scallop was very fresh and juicy, also carrying with it a hint of sweetness. I found that the rice overpowered the scallops as it was quite heavily seasoned. Sprinkled on top is a sort of bread crumb mixed with seaweed, overall giving it some crunch.

Kaisen Tajin Nabe
AMY: This was one of the most anticipated dishes for me that night. Miku had posted a picture of it on their twitter and it looked absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be one of the most disappointing dishes. It is composed of seafood in a broth, served with rice cakes and garlic butter on the side. You can either crumble in the rice cakes and mix in butter or eat it separately. We tried it first without the butter and found that it lacked any distinct taste. Later on we stirred in the butter but honestly it did not make much difference. Yes, the seafood was fresh, but that was pretty much the extent of it. For the steep price of this dish I was expecting a lot more in terms of flavor.

STEVEN: Again, sticking with the Miku recommendation of ordering all things "Aburi," we decided to give the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi a try. What stuck out to me was the addition of a slice of jalapeno, as well as the box shape the sushi was pressed into; for some reason I found it strangely appealing! Dressed with the chef's Miku sauce, the sushi tasted sweet, yet savoury. I liked the morsel of salmon stuffed into the heart of the rice, which helped to distribute the flavour and mouthfeel of salmon (so as to not feel like a slice of salmon on top of a cube of rice.) I didn't really care for the "Aburi," or blowtorch charring, and I felt Miku pushing it as its specialty was a little gimmicky given how widespread it is now.
Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi

As I'm sure you've noticed by now, we felt that our dining experience at Miku was rather disappointing, given how much hype we've heard about this restaurant. The interior decor as well as the general furnishings of the restaurant was very sleek and modern, without a doubt, and the service was quick and friendly. Nothing popped out at us food-wise, and we definitely left the restaurant feeling quite unsatisfied (and had to resort to a second dinner.) However, we're not sure if this was just an anomaly, or if we've completely missed out on the surefire items at Miku. We did overhear that sitting at the bar guaranteed a better experience, being able to watch the chefs at work, although the size of our party didn't allow for that. Maybe we'll give Miku another shot sometime in the future.

Taste: ★★★☆☆
Environment: ★★★★★
Service: ★★★★★
Price: $$$

Miku Restaurant
1055 W Hastings St
Vancouver, BC

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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