Eating at Minami is all about the experience. Many of you might raise a brow at the prices, but I can guarantee you won’t regret trying it at least once. It is definitely worth it. The first time I went, I certainly couldn’t stop talking about how good it was for at least a week. And in 2, I had to go back twice. I had dinner there the other night with my dad and sister before she jetted back to Shanghai and even though even though it’s been more than 2 years since my first visit, it’s still a joyous chorus in my mouth when I take the first bite.
Situated in Yaletown, Minami is a large, upscale Japanese restaurant with a beautiful long patio in the back so try to get a table there if the weather is good. If you’re looking for traditional Japanese food, you’re not going to find it here. At Minami, the techniques and presentations are Japanese but the introduction of non Japanese ingredients make the flavours non traditional and so unique. Everything I’ve tried has been really good, but these are the standouts and the only ones you should order if you don’t plan to come back again (but honestly, I can’t think of one reason why you wouldn’t):
1. Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi: pressed local salmon, jalapeño, miku sauce
The miku sauce is this charred light creaminess imparting this buttery, melt in your mouth sensation when you put it in your mouth. It is mmmmm mmmmm good.
2. Aburi Ebi Oshi: pressed shrimp, lime zest, ume sauce
Mmmmm, whatever that ume sauce is, it is mmmmm good. Combined with the ebi and that perfect citrus flavor from the bit of lime zest on top, the flavors are so unbelievably delicious.
3. Aburi Saba Oshi Sushi: pressed mackerel, miku miso sauce
The sweetness from the miso sauce on top with the saltiness of the mackerel fish just comes together in the most magical and flavourful way.
4. Aburi Japanese Wagyu Nigiri: NY strip loin, himalayan pink salt, nikri soy
This is so buttery, melt in your mouth good. The beef is so tender and buttery that what starts out as a delicious perfectly charred grilled piece of meat transforms into a buttery sushi that just melts in your mouth. And that himalayan pink salt sprinkled on top? Just heavenly.
5. Warm Valrhona Chocolate Fondant: molten Matcha ganache, crystallized jasmine tea, Genmai tea tuile, chocolate sauce, jasmine tea ice cream
This is the best warm valrhona chocolate cake I’ve ever had. Along with the green macha tea ooze that fills the center, there are no words to describe this ridiculously delicious dessert. The special jasmine tea ice cream just takes the flavors to another level. Make room for this if it’s on the menu (their desserts are seasonal), it is a must.
Other dishes that I’ve had that are also noteworthy (and I mean superb but it’s just that the aburi sushis and the dessert just really edged them all):
1. Aburi Carpaccio: organic 64° egg, asian pear, fern alley greens, lotus root chips, wasabi pickles, jalapeño-garlic ponzu
2. Soy Braised Beef Short Rib: AAA sterling silver, jidori chicken and foie gras ravioli, broccoli rapini, heirloom carrots,horseradish crème fraîche, red miso-pinot noir reduction
This dish is just as much about the raviolis as it is about the falling-off-the bone unbelievably tender meat.
3. Kaisen Soba Pepperoncino: shrimp, squid, scallop, sweet pepper, shiitake mushroom, jalapeño, tempura bits, chili-garlic soy
It has a nice heat to it from the chili pepper flakes that dust this modernized yaki soba. But what makes the dish for me is the perfectly cooked delicious fresh morsels of scallops, squid and shrimp.
4. Ebi Fritters: white tiger prawns, spiced couscous,wild arugula, sweet chili aioli, soy balsamic reduction
I enjoy the contrast of the balsamic vinaigrette over the arugula and mixed green salad that comes with the ebi fritters, along with the curried couscous. The melded texture and tastes of the acidity from the salad and the sweetness of the prawn in its perfectly cooked batter is a nice and delicious modern interpretation of the traditional shrimp tempura.
5. Spicy Pork Gyoza: chili oil, soy, vinegar, crispy pork belly
They offer 3 kinds of gyozas but I’ve only tried this one. The heat is very mild and what I love about this gyoza is that the filling with its pork juice taste just like xiao long bao (Shanghainese dumplings which I LOVE). The morsels of pork belly in between add a nice touch to the dish.
If you’re not sure if you’ll ever be back for some reason (maybe you’re skipping town and you have a court order never allowing you back?) then you must order the first 5 items on top. Make sure you get enough of everything so that no one fights over the food. You’ll be having aburi dreams after your first meal at Minami. Trust me.
Have you been to Minami or their sister restaurant Miku? What are your favourite dishes to order?