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Miku

Polka King's birthday was coming up and I asked him where he wanted to go. He's not a picky guy, so he usually doesn't have an opinion one way or another. However, ever since his first visit to Miku, he has been raving about it. For him to rave about anything is something special. Other than his beloved music equipment (for his polka'ing), it would be hard to get anything out of him. Thus, he was pretty much in agreement that we meet up at Miku for his birthday. Hey, that worked for me. A visit to Miku has been a long time coming. Situated where the Spotted Prawn used to reside, the dining space is modern, trendy and comfortable. Joining us tonight were Emilicious, Lionel Hutz and Milhouse. When Milhouse and I arrived, we were given the opportunity to sit out on the patio since it was a fairly nice day. Probably the best day so far in our Spring/Summer.

Initially, I was pushing for the Omakase; yet it probably wasn't a good choice because a few of us were planning on more eats and drinks afterwards at Terracotta. Yes, 2nd dinner much like Merry and Pippen. That is quite a feat since I already had High Tea earlier in the day. Thus, we settled on ordering 2 dishes each and share. What makes Miku unique is the Aburi (torched) Sushi. The premise is to top maki and oshi sushi with sauce and caramelize it via torching. The question: is it a gimmick or does it really enhance flavour and texture? I guess we'll have to see...

We started out with the a Abu Tuna which was comprised of a sliced seared pieces of tuna rolled with red onion and peppers topped with masatake sauce. I'm not a huge fan of raw onions, so it was not really my cup of tea. Actually, I found that the copious amount of onion detracted from the tuna and it seemed to get lost flavour-wise. Yet, it did succeed from a textural standpoint since the crunchy onions were a nice contrast to the soft tuna. Usually, when we order a Sashimi Salad, it can be somewhat of an underwhelming experience because you really don't get much in the way of seafood in relation to the lettuce. However, the version at Miku was quite substantial. Consisting of 2 separate sections with one topped with a generous amount of sashimi and the second topped with 2 ebi and 2 hotate, it was no whimpy salad. It would've been perfect if they hadn't drenched the whole thing with dressing.

By virtue of already dining at Miku twice, we got Polka King to suggest a few dishes. One of which was the Chicken Nanban. When I read the description on the menu, I thought it was a misprint. House-made tartar sauce on fried chicken? Then I thought about it, I personally like tartar sauce on anything, especially fries. And you know what? This wasn't bad. The lightly battered (and I mean barely there batter) chicken was tender and lightly seasoned. I found it pleasant to eat, if not slightly bland. From fried to raw again, we had the Gyu Carpaccio with 2 different dressings. The first was a black sesame and the second appeared to ginger? I wasn't paying attention. The beef was really tender and sliced perfectly thin. I particularly liked the black sesame dressing, it had a understated nuttiness to it.

For me, I ordered the highly unsharable Sablefish Saikyoyaki. Well, it is sharable, it just becomes a bloody mess once divided. As Victoria and I discussed a while back, it's pretty hard to mess up sablefish (aka Black Cod). It does happen; but rarely. So I was expecting this dish to be good and it was. Simply marinated in miso and baked, the fish was buttery soft and had the right amount of seasoning. Arriving on a big platter, we got Miku's specialties last. Polka King really likes the Aburi Salmon Oshi, so we got 2 orders. It's pressed salmon sushi dressed with Miku sauce and jalapeno then torched. The premise behind this is to combine flamed French sauces with sushi to create flavours that are both unique and tantalizing. I liked how the jalapeno was there to provide a contrast to the fatty sauce while not intruding. As with most pressed sushi, the rice is denser. I decided to order the Miku Roll which consists of salmon, snow crab and cucumber rolled with tobiko and topped with Miku sauce. This was my favourite since the entire roll was fluffy (unlike the stiffer pressed sushi) highlighted by a natural sweetness which was accented by the Miku sauce and pop from the tobiko. I thought the sushi rice was prepared properly with a nice "bite' and a sweetness of its own.

With the same masatake sauce as the first roll, the Red Wave consisted of snow crab and avocado with maguro on the outside. The roll was good with the same fluffiness of the Miku Roll while exhibiting a slight crunch from the sauce. Yet, this was ultimately a so-so roll compared to the first 2 offerings. Finally, the Seabreeze was probably our least favourite. Probably because it was not visually appealing, it was both small and lacking in colour. Consisting of maguro, avocado with nori sauce and grated shiso leaf on the outside, I found it bland. I know the point of this roll is to be subtle, but it was just not my favourite.

Albeit on the expensive side, I found that most of the food at Miku to be crafted with care. The flavours are well-thought out and are clean. However, if someone was merely looking for "regular" sushi, this may not be the place. That is not their specialty. With the different sauces used in their sushi, the texture and tastes are definitely different. I personally like the concept while I can see how some would not. Thus, I tend to look at a place like this from a different point of view (ie. not looking at it as purely a Japanese restaurant). Ultimately, as with anything trendy and unique, we end up paying for it.

The Good:
- Something a bit different
- Comfortable and trendy dining space
- Attentive, yet not intrusive service

The Bad:
- Dinner is pricey
- Order their specialties, you can get regular sushi somewhere else for cheaper

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