So Kishimoto might either be Vancouver’s best kept secret or it just may be a super cool hipster-like place that is known on the strength of its food and little else. I say this because despite the long lineups outside the restaurant and the frequency of its appearance on best-sushi-in-Vancouver lists, the restaurant doesn’t even have a website. All it has is a Facebook page, which in this day and age, is surprising. Also they are only open from 5:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and manage to be one of the hottest destinations in the city.
Teng and I, of course, waited about three hours (some of which we spent in Prado Cafe and some of which we spent lining up outside the restaurant) to eat at the restaurant.
And you know what?
Every single second was worth it. The food was out of this world and you can believe the hype when they say that it has one of the best sushis in town. You can take my word for it (though take it with a grain of salt because I haven’t eaten much sushi everywhere, ha.)
Even though the restaurant is tiny and always crowded, the seating is comfortable and surprisingly roomy. The servers are wonderful and quick to meet your needs. There are also quite a few of them which accounts for the speedy service.
The decor is understated and lovely with the focus given to the food.
First, we had the oshisushi:
One was the Ebi oshisushi which was cooked prawn with basil pesto, creamy sauced, cracked black pepper which was all seared by torched. The other one had salmon, creamy sauce and jalapeno and was quite possible the most divine sushi I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. I thought I had died and gone to sushi heaven.
The ingredients are fresh and the rice has been cooked to perfection. All the different flavours in the sushi, the sauce, the fish, the rice and the little slice of pepper come together in such harmony that you will be hardpressed not to write panegyrics to sushi of all things. What I’m saying is that it was good. Very. The ebi one was just as good but I preferred the salmon one.
Teng: I really enjoyed the oshisushi as well, and can see why it is such a popular item at Kishimoto. The oshisushi were melt-in-your-mouth tender, creamy without being oily and a joy to eat. I prefer the salmon version, though I wish they were more generous with the fish. The ebi oshisushi may have been more tender if they made it with raw sweet shrimp rather than cooked ones.
Then came the black cod misozuke:
And just in case one pic isn’t enough, here is Teng’s view of it:
This was infused with the sweetness of miso and had a lightly burnt taste of charred soy (if I remember correctly). It was light, fragrant and absolutely delicious.
Teng: I ordered two uzura ikura(salmon roe with raw quail egg) sushi and I wish I got more. The ikura and the raw yolk were a perfect match. The briny taste of the sea in the ikura blends with the creamy richness of the yolk like a match made in heaven. I think I swooned a little while eating it. Do not be afraid of the raw yolk, because I am not sure if I can just eat plain ikura sushi now after this divine experience.
The okonomiyaki was a bit surprising. We’ve had the one served at Guu and were reasonably sure we knew what to expect but then the server told us that it is quite a substantial dish and we didn’t understand why. When it came out, we were a bit surprised by its size. Look at it:
Instead of the usual cabbage base, Kishimoto makes its okonomiyaki with rice which makes it fluffy and super-filling. While this was certainly delicious, it was actually a lot more filling than I expected it to be and I’m not certain I absolutely loved the texture. The plate is obviously sizzling hot and the sauce is light and keeps the morsels satisfactorily moist (the only time it is appropriate to use that word is when you’re talking about food). The bonito flakes provide an interesting fishyness to the taste though I have to admit that the seafood itself was a bit rarer than I expected it to be. I am not an expert on okonomiyaki except what my tastes tell me and I most certainly prefer the Guu one because it’s not as filling and I don’t know, I enjoy it a bit more. Still, this was delicious and I am glad I got to taste an alternative version of it.
Teng: The salmon ishinabe is like Kishimoto’s version of the salmon dons frequently seen in other Japanese restaurants, except Kishimoto’s version is far superior. The ishinabe came with fresh salmon, raw egg yolk, lots of seaweed, some spinach and rice underneath. What makes it even better is that the waiter thoughtfully informed us that if we want to eat the crusty rice at the bottom, we should let the rice cook with the pad of butter underneath for a couple of minutes more in the hot stone bowl before mixing it. I thought this was brilliant, because the butter ensured the rice did not stick to the bottom and everything mixed beautifully. The ishinabe came with a mixing sauce as well that gave the ishinabe a stronger flavor. The ishinabe has many elements, but it tastes light, healthy and comforting. I highly recommend this.
So there you have it. Our wholly positive experience eating at Kishimoto. Would we go back? Hell yeah. In a heartbeat. Try it out, you guys.