Remember my review of Minami’s Taste of Yaletown? I later received a message from Minami apologizing for the little dessert mixup, and was invited back for another go. I talked to my sister, we called a friend, and it was decided. We would give it another go–or rather, I would give it another go. Our friend J was going for the first time, and MII has had the restaurant marked as one of her Vancouver favourites for the better part of the year.
I thought it was good customer service on the part of Minami. They do have a reputation as a highly regarded Japanese restaurant here in Vancouver, and the email from Minami’s general manager, Ashley, reflected that. It was genuinely appreciated that they took time to inquire about customer dining experiences. So with a reservation for 8pm and a pretty gift card awaiting us Sunday night, we headed off.
Now, readers, please be aware that the dining experience I had during Taste of Yaletown and the experience I had tonight were not average dining experiences at Minami. In my ToY review, I mentioned how the event likely meant a more hectic kitchen environment for participating restaurants, and how that might potentially affect the quality of food and service. With tonight’s experience, there is the obvious consideration that it was intended as a makeup for a mistake made from a previous experience. I mean, there was a gift card in an envelope with my name on it–as much as it was a normal night at the restaurant, it was a standard concerted customer service effort to make up for last time. Which, I have to say again, I’m really happy with!
So, on with the show:
I’ll start with the fact that we were seated in a comfy booth that looked like it usually seated around five to six people. Then came the fun part… ordering! With so many choices, it was hard to narrow it down, particularly when MII and I have small appetites.
We started off with the aburi sushi sampler.
I dove for the bacon-topped, dark sampler near the middle. The orange tinge is the salmon. Y U M.
A waiter stopped by with a complimentary salad sampler. Balsamic vinegar on goat cheese over a crisp, juicy cherry tomato.
Next to arrive was our calamari.
I know, I know–“You’re at a Japanese, sort-of-fusion restaurant, and you go for Calamari? This is Minami, not Earls!”
Yes, I do know. But I’m a huge calamari fan, so I had to try just once! I didn’t regret it, either. I mean, if you’re not a calamari fan, don’t go for it–but if you’re into Eastern takes on mediterranean dishes, it’s a nice treat. The squid is done up in tempura batter, and the tosazu sauce (a traditional Japanese dipping sauce made up of soy sauce and vinegar, among other things) is a natural feeling addition to the dish.
Those tomatinas? One bite and they EXPLODE in your mouth. So. Much. Flavour. They pack a bigger punch than the rest of the dish combined! Definitely try one–but any more might be a bit too much.
What followed was the salmon oshi sushi, which was done aburi (flame-seared) style.
BC Salmon sandwiched between jalapeño and a secret, signature sauce.
I’ve had the aburi salmon oshi at Miku, too, and it remains one of my favourite oshi they offer.
Open kitchen concept.
Last time, dessert was an issue. This time, it was a pleasure! Raspberry sorbet was such a wonderful way to end my meal. Soft and sour, with berries and a thin wafer. Gotta love sorbet!
MII and J opted for the warm Valrhona chocolate-hazelnut fondant. Genmai tea crumble with milk chocolate sauce, spiced pear compote, roasted green tea ice cream, and dry raspberries. I honestly wish I had a better camera/new how to take good photos because it looked better in real life.
MII and J both agreed that the dessert was made up very nicely and everything complimented each other well, though they weren’t huge fans of the spice pear. I only had a bit of the roasted green tea ice cream myself, but the whole thing certainly looked good. (J & MII’s exclamations of delight were also a good indication if its taste.)
Now as you might have gathered from this post, we’re glad we made the decision to return to Minami. My sister was in oshi sushi heaven, the food was good, and the pretty gift card certainly worked its magic on the typically large bill as well as my overall opinion of the restaurant. (Nakamura group restaurants remain expensive as hell for university students living on a budget, so please keep in mind the gift card as part of this second review.)
The dining experience went well because the management at Minami were doing customer service damage control–but given the circumstances, they went beyond your average restaurant. Yes, my Taste of Yaletown review is now permanently on Urbanspoon for all to read, but my blog has a pretty tiny readership. How much they’d get out of going the extra mile likely isn’t much more than if someone had phoned them up to complain, rather than include a service review in a blog post. But who really knows. In any case, I’m happy with the way Minami management responded and the lengths they went to make up for our past experience. That, and who can complain about a high quality meal at an affordable price! Thank you, Minami!