Monday, October 26, 2015

Taste of Yaletown 2015 - Minami

Minami Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato We were warned that the portions for Minami's Taste of Yaletown 2015 were going to be small, but fortunately that turned out to actually not be the case. They aren't huge either, but unless you are a really big eater, you will probably leave satisfied but not feeling too full. And there's a tricky workaround as well -- read on.
I ordered the vegetarian option because I knew no one else would, so my experience of the "normal" Taste of Yaletown menu is limited.

2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - menu

Garden Trio
  • Soy Paper Quinoa-Avocado roll was horridly bland and boring. Tasted like avocado with rice. Which it mainly was. And you got four pieces of this. Was I supposed to pair it in the same bite with the tomato-with-pesto? Honestly those "fresh market vegetables" stood out better.
  • Okra. Yuck for their sliminess once you start chewing -- BUT before you set them aside, there's a brown strip of sharp and slightly spicy-hot sauce that really helps with the flavour and makes it almost tasty.
  • Miso-Tofu Sansai Gyoza with moromi miso-haricot vert relish was terribly bland were it not for the relish.
  • Most of the vinaigrette in the Kaiso Salad found its way to the bottom, so you may want to periodically toss it on your plate so you don't get too much vinaigrette near the end and not enough at the beginning. Other than that, it was actually a fairly refreshing salad with a nice tang to it from the vinaigrette combined with a slight sea water flavour from the fun, crunchy, seaweed.
  • Overall I felt this was a very weak plate and disappointing except for the salad.
  • Note the single sprig of flowers.
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Garden Trio

Appetizer Trio
  • Aburi Sushi Sampler - Isolate some of the rice to taste and you will find even the rice all on its own is pretty tasty. Eat your sushi very slowly, in two bites if you can. It's tasty and goes quickly as you have very little, so savour it mindfully. 
  • Not too much meat on that duck drumstick, so I passed on trying it. Looked super crispy, though.
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Appetizer Trio

Crispy Tempeh
  • You may have bought marinated tempeh slices from Save-on-Foods or something, leading you to think this stuff is too sour to be tasty. The deep fried tempeh here is totally different -- rather bland rather than off-puttingly sour.
  • Big plate of filling carbs (see second picture below for comparison with the regulation length chopsticks). So, if you are actually worried about the total serving size of Minami's $45 meat-and-fish Taste of Yaletown menu, something you could do is for one of your party to get the vegetarian menu and share the carbs. Alternatively, if you are a party of 3-4, you could order an extra vegetarian TOY menu just for the added filling carbs.
  • Tasty sauces here make all the difference; would otherwise be a boring plate of empty carbs.
  • Not enough aburi corn and bell pepper salsa to really have a good taste or make a difference here, sadly.

2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Crispy Tempeh 1

2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Crispy Tempeh 2

Surf and Turf
  • Sablefish slightly on the raw side, but so tender and buttery and pretty tasty.
  • "Crispy" kakuni pork belly nowhere crispy. Fail.
  • Pork cheek was really, really, tender.
  • Presentation made it look so tiny!
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Surf and Turf

Mixed Berry Sakekasu Bar
  • Didn't identify anything clearly sake-like in the bar. Tasted more fruity than anything.
  • Ice cream scoop has two parts -- a sorbet-like reddish part, and a sake-tasting-but-without-being-too-strong white ice cream part that was an interesting flavour.
  • Salted caramel sauce was hard to pair as it gummed up on your spoon.
  • Overall, this dessert was okay, with bonus points for the interesting ice cream.
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Mixed Berry Sakekasu Bar

Value for money at $35 or $45 for Minami's Taste of Yaletown menu is actually pretty good considering you are also paying for Yaletown location and ambiance. Just the complexity of the pie-plus-special-ice-cream dessert is probably worth $8-$10. As for the rest, you couldn't put that much sampling together for the price point were it not for the Taste of Yaletown mass production.

Salmon Oshi Bites ($16) fusion of specialty salmon oshi topped with spot prawn, bincho, Hokkaido scallop, and wild boar bacon
  • NOT part of the Taste of Yaletown 2015 menu.
  • Despite sounding like a really overloaded bite, what you actually get is four pieces of thinly sliced salmon on rice. Each of the four pieces is topped with ONE of the items listed: spot prawn, bincho (white tuna?), etcetera.
  • Sounded interesting as a starter and I thought I'd start our table with something while waiting for everyone to arrive. At $4 per piece, this is pretty darned pricey. How about skipping the token salad and slimy-in-your-mouth okra and giving me another piece of sushi?
2015-Oct-25 Minami - Salmon Oshi Bites

I took pictures this time for two main reasons: First, someone else at the table was also taking pictures. Second, it was actually quite hard getting the attention of our server in the busy back part of the restaurant, so I'm pretty sure no one was paying attention.

TIP: If you are sitting in the rear of the restaurant, watch out for the low-hanging cylindrical lamps!

2015-Oct-25 Minami - low lamp - don't hit your head

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