We decided to go for a double date a fairly new sushi restaurant called Tsuki near Stadium skytrain just on Abbott and Pender. We made reservations for 7pm on a Thursday night, arrived on time, and were seated promptly after arriving. The restaurant itself is very clean and fresh looking, it has high ceilings and the space is very opened up. They had some Christmas decorations though that I found were a little strange. There was also some scattered decorations and plants along the walls in no apparent pattern. I’ve seen a few japanese restaurants have similar designs. Not quite sure what they were going for.
The manager Jane was very kind to us from the moment we sat down, introducing herself and giving me all the options of what was popular and what was on special, as this was our first time dining here. She recommended we try the Sake tasters, which was basically a set of 4 1.25oz Sake shots from four of their most premium bottles. It was on special for $9.95 each so we decided to get two of these. They arrived at the table in a matter of minutes on a special plank that looked like it was designed specifically to hold this set of drinks. The names of each Sake was laser printed onto the wood and looked very unique. The drinks also came with a small laminated card that showed the names of each Sake, along with a short description of what kind of flavours we would expect, as well as good food pairings. I thought this was a nice touch so we were at least a little more educated about what we were drinking. I would not say I am an expert on Sake tasting, but it was definitely a good experience to get to know a little more of the different variations they offer. We found that the Fukumasamune Traditional and the Wind Water Man sakes were very light and fragrant, almost with a soft berry-like flavour to them. The Kagatobi Gokkan was a little stronger, at 15%, but was very difficult to drink we found. It had a very strong aftertaste and was something close to cough syrup for me. Definitely an acquired taste for those more familiar to this drink. The last was the Kozaemon sake. This was the strongest amongst them all at 16.8%. But it was actually much easier to drink than the previous one, as long as you had it with some of the food pairings they recommended. These were all very unique and I felt a lot more knowledgable after having tried these four new types.
We ordered 8 items between the four of us. I was pleased to see that the service went very well. All the dishes came out shortly after the sake was served, with a good interval in between each item to give us some time to eat the last. We started with the Spinach Gomae salad with the peanut sauce on the side. This dish, like most of the others to come, had a good presentation, but the peanut sauce was fairly salty. ****UPDATE**** I was incorrect in saying this was peanut sauce, it was brought to my attention that many sushi restaurants are substituting their sesame sauce with peanut powder, to hedge against the increasing cost of sesame seeds. But Tsuki says they value their traditional Japanese methods and only uses 100% sesame seed sauce.
The next dish was the Kani Pon, dungeness crab dressed in ponzu sauce. This is served with yellow tobiko, seaweed, cucumbers and ginger. The crab tasted fresh, but was slightly overcooked and became very dry. Also the ponzu sauce was a big salt factor in this dish and became a little overpowering to the delicate crab flavour.
The next dish was the Ebi Chawan Mushi, which is a traditional japanese steamed egg custard. This was recommended for cold winter days. I found it to be very similar to a warm tofu with miso and fish flavour. It was served with Bunashimeji mushrooms, spinach, fish, and a small prawn. Although it was quite good, I found the ebi to be lacking and tasted more of the fish than the prawn flavour. But definitely a dish I would still recommend and try again.
Following that was the tuna tataki and the salmon sashimi. I am usually very particular on which raw fishes I eat, because I really hate to taste old, slimy fish. I was pleasantly surprised that both dishes were so fresh, both tasting like they were caught on the same day. The tuna dressed nicely with ponzu sauce, the right amount. The salmon was just perfection as well. It just melted in your mouth and had a brilliant red colour to it.
We ordered one of their most popular items, Gindara Saikyo, which is garlic miso marinated sable fish. Most japanese restaurants will charge an arm and a leg for just a small piece of this prized fish. I was very happy when this came out as it was a very large piece of fish, cooked perfectly. For those of you who haven’t tried sable fish, TRY IT! This is the most delicate and buttery tasting fish you can find. The meat is flaky and rich in flavour. It is really hard to compare!
The nigiri came next, we ordered Masago, Ika, and Smoked Salmon. The masago was nice and fresh, because in some sushi restaurants, there is a tendency for it to be soggy when they use frozen eggs. The smoked salmon was a good, big piece and the sushi rice was nicely seasoned. The ika, on the other hand, was slightly dry.
We ordered six of their Miyagi Oysters. These were different from the typical west coast oysters that we are normally accustomed to. Instead of horseradish and cocktail sauce, these are served with ponzu, scallions, and ginger. They were very fresh and the flavours went very well together. We also got one of their ‘Monster’ rolls. This is a combination of crab fish cake, cream cheese, ebi, avocado, cucumber with unagi, masago, green onion and spicy mayo on top. I was told that these were massive rolls, which is why they only give you four pieces only. I expected them to be bigger, but they still tasted great nonetheless.
Overall we were very pleased about our visit to Tsuki. Their service was excellent, the servers were very attentive and always eager to offer us more tea and checking if everything was okay. This restaurant is still quite new but I think it has a bright future ahead of it if they continue serving fresh tasting, unique dishes.
Quality – 4.5 of 5
Ingeniuety – 4 of 5
Atmosphere – 4 of 5
Service – 5 of 5
Value – 4 of 5
Overall – 4.3 of 5