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Sushi: we finally get it

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It took Halifax a long time to embrace Japanese cuisine, but I think we’ve done it!  At last count, there were nine restaurants, plus a few food-court vendors in malls.  The grocery chains have also caught on to one of North America’s most popular food trends, offering fresh sushi at their deli counters.

The simplicity and freshnees of a Japanese meal is unique.  Afterwards, you’re full, but your body is thankful you’ve treated it so well.

1520 Queen St. has have various lives, as a Caribbean restaurant, and as a fabulous fish & chips joint.  Now it is mostly Japanese, thought Korean, too.  You can sit at the bar and watch chef Chung Young Ko (or James, as he is known) in action.  We choose a table instead, but within chatting distance of the chef.  Having been employed in restaurants in his homeland of Korea, and in Toronto, he has been in Halifax for six months, happily operating his own place.

We visit on a Friday evening – it is very quiet downstairs with people at only two other tables, while in the upstairs dinning room a large group of tae kwon do enthusiasts seem to be having fun.

The extensive menu is almost overwhelming.   For appetizers, we choose the Kushi Yaki, two tasty skewers of broiled beef, chicken, carrot, onion and zucchini, as well as an order of tempura, fried shrimp and vegetables.   The Tempura batter is light and the shrimp and vegetables are cooked perfectly.  We share a seafood salad, a generous serving of crisp greens, loaded with fresh – and raw – seafood: salmon, surf clam, and tuna.  I don’t often have raw fish in my salad and I don’t know if I’d try it at home, but it’s a fun treat.

For the main course, my pal chooses what we are told is the most popular Korean dish on the menu: Bulkokee, sliced sirloin marinated in a sesame, soy and garlic sauce with steamed rice and miso soup.  Miso, a traditional Japanese soup made from a soybean paste, as usual has a very delicate favour.  The sirloin is tender and its sauce subtle but a tad oily.  We also share some sushi, all fresh and delicious.  Negihamachi Maki, is yellowtail tuna with green onion wrapped in nori, paper-thin sheets of dried seaweed.  Salmon Maki, has a spicy sauce on top, Futo Maki is a large, stunningly arranged roll of – get ready for this… picked radish, cucumber, cooked mushroom, squash, friend egg, crab cake and, naturally, bbq eel.  Yum.

What makes sushi fun, of course, is dipping it in soy sauce and wasabi, Japanese horseradish.  A hit of fiery wasabi is unlike anything else – directly up your nose, it is highly recommended to clear sinuses!

Much to full to try the tempting ice cream with bean paste for dessert, I settled on a relaxing cup of Genmai made from green tea and roasted rice, with an almost nutty flavour.

It, like the restaurant, is a good choice.

Review by: Valerie Mansour

 

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