Thursday, March 10, 2016

Yasu Omakase: Capturing the Essence of Nigiri Sushi

Tucked in a narrow white room on Harbord Street, Osaka-raised chef-owner Yasuhisa Ouchi and his team of chefs serve glistening sushi, one piece at a time, to 10 guests seated at a sleek marble-topped bar. The city's first sushi-only omakase restaurant, Yasu's edict is simple — "In a global world where borders are becoming seamless, Toronto can now have access to the freshest seafood like what we have in Japan. Yasu took this opportunity to return to the roots of sushi, in which simplicity was the key ingredient in bringing out the taste of the sea. He uses classical methods to draw out the umami of seafood, with fish that is freshly sliced and placed atop warm, loose rice then brushed with a touch of nikiri soy for a perfectly balanced bite. In short, Yasu is all about capturing the essence of sushi. Seasonal ingredients are prepared at the sushi bar and served immediately for maximum flavour and freshness, for a true omakase experience. Served only just-warm, the vinegar-seasoned rice is draped with superlative elections of fish, made to order right in front of you and served a single bite at a time. The menu is Ouchi's choice of 18 impeccably fresh pieces of edomae sushi for $80 per person, which can include Striped Jack from Kyoto, Hay Smoked Bonito from Japan, Uni from Boston and Hokkaido, Ikura from Alaska and Mackerel from Norway. The Marinated Bluefin Tuna from Mexico literally melts in the mouth and the lightly torched Wild Argentinian Shrimp sublime. The fish selection changes constantly, and the special sake pairings, served in glasses cradled in a traditional wooden masu box, are a delightful trip through the various styles of Japanese rice wine and well worth the $50 price tag For sushi enthusiasts, Yasu is an experience unlike like any other. Place yourself in the chef's hands, and you'll leave in a blissful state of sushi euphoria every time.

Karakuchi Kiippon Junmai Ginjo from Nagano, Japan

Served in a small glass set into a wooden box, the first selection on the 
Sake Tasting Menu had the fragrance of young Fuji apples

Scallop from Hokkaido

Porgy from Boston

Nova Scotia Snow Crab

Red Snapper from Japan

Kubota Manju Junmai Daiginjo sake, with subtle flavours of fuji apple and tart pear 

The Kabota sake was clean, round and velvety

Norwegian Mackerel with pickled daikon

Monkfish Liver from Boston, served over a shiso leaf

Boston Fluke

Striped Jack from Kyushu Japan

Wakatake Onikoroshi Tokubetsu Junmai Sake from Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

A Duo of Sea Urchin: (L) Boston and (R) Hokkaido 

The Hokkaido Sea Urchin

Salmon Roe on crisp nori

Ichinokura “Mukansa Chokarakuchi” Sake from From Miyagi Prefecture, Honjozo

Wild Shrimp from Argentina, lightly torched for an extra oomph!

A Trio of Tunas from Mexico: (L) Tuna Belly (M) Medium Tuna (R) Lean Tuna

Hay Smoked Bonito from Japan

Considered the "king" of nigori style sake, this Nigori Genshu Sake is unfiltered for a powerhouse of complex tropical flavours

Unfiltered sake produces an opaque milk-like viscosity

Start of the season, Fairy Squid from Toyama Bay, Japan

Anago, fresh salt water eel from Nagasaki Japan

Tamaga Yaki 

Ginger Iced Cream

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