A few days before Christmas, my co-workers and I went to a nearby Japanese restaurant on West Hastings called Miku. To those familiar with the area, the space previously housed The Spotted Prawn restaurant, but this new Japanese spot took over earlier in 2009. A few of my co-workers had paid Miku a visit prior to this, and they were very impressed. The restaurant's speciality is 'aburi' style sushi, which is lightly seared (with a blowtorch!) fish with light French sauces.

We had reservations for 12:30 and when we arrived, the place was entirely packed. The restaurant has a very open feel, with high black ceilings and amoeba-like light fixtures floating from it. Lots of light from its large windows, granite, curves, pristine dark stone tables, and sparkling dinnerware.

Three of us got the same thing: the Miku Zen ($20), which is a selection of 4 items from the kitchen, 4 items from the sushi bar, and miso soup. The food was impeccably presented, and oh so beautiful to look at, from the shapely lacquer miso bowl, to the wooden box that cradled the 4 kitchen dishes, to the white, leaf-shaped plate that held the sushi pieces. It was a little hard to dig in because it was so gorgeous.

The kitchen items consisted of: soba noodles in a sauce, Chicken Nanban, Aburi Tuna, and a wakame and green salad. I didn't care for the noodles, as they sat in a strange and bland cornstarch thickened sauce, and while the salad was okay, with nice textures of seaweed and fresh greens, the dressing severely lacked any acid. It was crying for lemon, or ponzu, or vinegar....

However, the Chicken Nanban, a kind of high-end chicken nugget topped with a tartar sauce, was amazing. The cubed chicken breast morsels were moist, tender and very well seasoned. The other highlight was the wonderful aburi tuna. The tuna was slightly warm, with a distinct lightly grilled taste. This was so good.

The sushi selection was equally impressive. This consisted of ebi, tuna, and two pieces of Aburi Salmon Oshi. What's great about each of the sushi pieces is that they came topped with its own sauce, so you don't have to fiddle with any soy sauce. This allows the fish to stand out, I think, instead of possibly being overpowered by soy. The ebi and tuna were both quite good, but the stand out was definitely the aburi salmon. Each piece was topped with a creamy sauce and a slice of jalapeno, and was still warm from the searing. This was delicious. The slight charring brought out the flavour of the fish, while the sauce complemented the salmon's fattiness, and the jalapeno slice cut through the fat and gave the bite a nice warm kick.

The miso soup had chunks of tofu and wavy pieces of seaweed, but it was pretty standard.

One of my co-workers ordered the sushi tart, which consisted of layers of rice (not described on the menu), salmon, avocado, ebi and tobiko. She seemed to enjoy this.

I definitely recommend Miku, for those looking for beautifully presented and tasty Japanese food. I was very impressed by their unique dishes, and would love to taste more aburi-style sushi. Delicious to look at as it is to eat!

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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