I was curious to try it out and yes, I know restaurants go through teething pains so I was expecting the worst. But I couldn't resist, I loved Sammy over at Yashi and was sad he left. So on opening night, me and a girlfriend decided to give it a whirl and try it out. Overall, had a very pleasant experience and really enjoyed it there.
We showed up at 5:30 and it was moderately busy, with half of the tables (mostly 2 tops) filled. I grabbed a seat at the bar and settled in for the evening. The beverage menu is short and sweet with an emphasis on vodkas. Wine list had 4 bubbles by the glass, 6 or so whites and 3 reds. Bottles are maybe a selection of 5 reds and 5 whites or so. Not huge but had a couple bottles that I really liked. After perusing the menu, we settled on sharing a bunch of plates. The menu focuses on seafood items mostly and for the most part, are not really "cooked" items (sushi rolls, carpaccio, tartare, ceviche, nigiri, sashimi, caviar (2 types), smoked salmon (2 or 3 types)), all with an Asian bent. So if you're expecting crab legs, and assortment of oysters, not quite there.
We settled on ordering the baby octopus salad, duck "carpaccio", grilled eggplant, crazy roll and the sampler platter (which had lobster ceviche, a raw oyster, tuna tartare and Norwegian smoked salmon). The actual names of the dishes elude me. A light salad of mixed greens is served first with a light balsamic-y sweet dressing. Perfectly dressed salad for once. How many times does salad come absolutely drenched? Sorry, pet peeve. They had warned us when we ordered that food would take 30 minutes, as currently Sammy is the only chef, another person is expected next week. Well appreciated that we were forewarned but we came early enough that we weren't super hungry anyways. Managing expectations, I like it.
First up, baby octopus salad. I'm always intrigued because I generally dislike octopus as more often than naught, it shows up rubbery and chewy. This was nice and tender, with julienned wood ear fungus, colored peppers in a sweet type of dressing. Personally, it was delicious but oversauced. My DP loved the sauciness of it all. Next, duck "carpaccio", it was thin slices of smoked duck breast, again with the julienned peppers served with dabs of again, some kind of sweet sauce. I found it really worked as the duck was very smoky (I love, DP not so much), so to have the sweetness cut into the smokiness and the peppers adding some crunch, thought it was very nicely done. Don't be scared by the thick layer of fat on the duck, can hardly taste it at all. Grilled eggplant came next, grilled and served with miso paste. I love eggplant and this dish didn't disappoint. It was a thick (inch or more) slab of eggplant grilled to perfection and smeared with miso on top. The skin was perfectly edible and not bitter at all. The thickness of the slice let it retain a certain amount of texture instead of completely falling into mushy territory with a nice ring of tenderness. The sushi roll came out next. Ahhh...can't all be perfection. Sushi rice was mushy, too much water in the cooking. The crazy roll came with a drizzle of the special sauce (more Harbourfront than Yashi), so aside from the rice issue was otherwise tasty. The tempura shrimp in it was large and still lightly crunchy instead of mushy tempura batter. I did make a comment to the gentleman when he came to take away the plates so that they could improve on it. Keeping fingers crossed. Last up, sampler plate. I was underwhelmed by it. The tuna tartare had nice lemon acidity to it but I thought needed a touch more salt and it was really chopped, more chopped tuna roll filling than chunks of tuna. Lobster ceviche was disappointing. I think they had precooked the lobster as opposed to marinating it in acid to "cook" it as the lobster was completely white and it was shredded. The oyster I had was nice but had too many shards of shell, my DP had no shell, lucky. And the Norwegian smoked salmon was served with minced red onion, dollop of creme fraiche and some caviar. It was nice and oily, the way smoked sockeye salmon is from back home rather than the slightly anemic stuff I see in the stores here.
Still feeling like perusing the menu, we settled on an order of pepper tuna sashimi and an order of hamachi sashimi. Very nice, my DP's pepper tuna sashimi came out in cubes of tuna really with a bit more of the octopus salad in the middle of the plate. My hamachi was nice and not overly fishy, which I find sometimes at some other places.
All in all, I'd estimate that our food bill came to around 80 or 90 without beverages. So not as expensive as Pearl but not as cheap as Yashi. And no, we didn't order the caviar...I believe it was about 160/ounce. I have a good feeling about this place, it was busy at around dinner hour and then petered out after 8. I'll definitely be going back to try more of the dishes. I saw ohitashi on the menu which I love, but never seen before, if they can do to the spinach what they did to the eggplant...yum!
I'll try and get my photos up later when I pull them off the phone.