Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kamei Baru

Kamei Baru is owned by the Kamei and Ebisu group that serves Japanese cuisine. Since Kamei Royale and Ebisu (only the West Broadway location) are a couple of my favourite Japanese restaurants, of course I had to visit Kamei Baru. Kamei Baru is different than the other restaurants in the group because they serve tapas dishes. When walking in, we were greeted by numerous staff members yelling at us like any other Japanese tapas restaurant. My first impression, the menu is limited in sashimi and sushi since the restaurant is more tapas oriented. My second impression, the lighting at our table was really dark and it was quite loud sitting by the bar. If I knew seating upstairs was an option, I would have definitely chose to sit there. After ordering, I realized that the owner basically combined a bunch of popular dishes, and put them all in one restaurant taking advantage of Vancouver's tapas trend.

HAWAIIAN COKE ($3.50). Coconut syrup is added to coca cola which tones down the fizziness. I did not even know coconut syrup was added since I did not taste it. I enjoyed the drink because I am not a fan of coconut anyways.

LOBSTER SEAFOOD MISO CHOWDER, LOBSTER, CLAMS AND MUSSELS ($9.50). The lobster chowder has lobster, clams and miso chowder, no mussels though. The lobster pieces have a nice bounce and the clams are quite tasty, neither of them taste overcooked. The chowder tastes rich, creamy, and very tasty. I usually get the lobster miso at Kamei Royale because I never thought the chowder would taste good, but I definitely prefer the chowder over the miso now. The chowder tastes extremely flavourful and a lot tastier than many west coast cuisine restaurants'.

LOBSTER MISO SOUP, LOBSTER, PRAWNS AND SALMON IN A SOY BEAN BASE ($9.50). The lobster miso soup has lobster, clams and mussels rather than prawns and salmon. I wonder if there was a mix up with the ingredients because the lobster chowder did not have mussels but was supposed to, and the miso should have had prawns and salmon. Anyways, the miso tastes rich with a blend of seafood (clams, mussels, lobster), does not taste overpowering, and is cooked just right. I like that the miso bits did not cloud up on the surface, was it because they used less miso or that they mixed it really well?

CAJUN TUNA TACOS, SEARED FRESH TUNA, MANGO, AVOCADO, TOMATO AND KAIWARE, DRESSED WITH TANTALIZING HOUSE GINGER SAUCE ($7.95). The taco shells taste crisp, crunchy, and adds some texture to the generous slice of tuna. The tuna tastes fresh as well as tasty but I personally do not prefer cajun seasoned tuna. I like that house ginger sauce is used rather than mayonnaise which makes the tacos a lot tastier IMO. The sauce, avocado, mango, everything tastes pretty good. If I wanted to be picky, an ahi tuna option would have been nice.

BARU SASHIMI, TWO PIECES EACH. MACKEREL, YELLOWTAIL, SALMON, TUNA, AND FRESH OYSTER ($19.95). All the sashimi tastes fresh as well as the oysters, and the sashimi is cut perfectly on a diagonal. One good thing about the Kamei and Ebisu group is that sashimi never tastes unpleasant and is pretty much always perfect, except the Richmond location's.

STEAMED MUSSELS WITH WHITE WINE SAUCE 1/2LB ($8.95). Other than the white wine sauce, the other options available are saffron cream, soy sauce, or butter sauce as well as the option of adding a baguette ($1.95). The mussels taste fresh unlike Poor Italian Ristorante's. The mussels taste perfectly cooked, juicy, and tasty. The sauce tastes mild with a light hint of wine, and the tomatoes taste extremely juicy and yummy. Honest to truth, I liked the tomatoes more than the mussels. The mussels are also perfectly rinsed and has no funky light seafood taste that even some fine dining restaurants cannot get rid of.

BONSAI BEEF, CILANTRO TOPPED ON SEARED SLICE OF BEEF WITH CITRUS SOY SAUCE ($11.95). My first thought, the beef sashimi is very similar to Phnom Penh's and the only differences are, the beef slices are cut thicker, and the soy sauce taste is toned down by the citrus. The beef sashimi tastes fresh, tender and tasty.

MANGO AVOCADO ROLL, AVOCADO WRAPPED WITH RICE AND TOPPED WITH MANGO ($6.50). The only rolls available are the most popular specialty rolls from the other Kamei and Ebisu locations, so I stuck with something plain and simple because I have had the other rolls too many times. The mango slices are extremely thin and I prefer thicker slices like the other locations. The rice is also a bit too loose and the rolls easily fell apart, I lost four pieces on the table :(. The avocados taste fresh, creamy, and the roll tastes average.

BARU WINE CURRY RICE "using over 30 spices, Kamei Baru's original curry takes 3 days to create a new sensation that can't be found elsewhere" CHICKEN ($11.50). The curry tastes very light and not flavourful. To be honest, the curry does not taste special and tastes quite bland. With a description of 30 spices and cooked for 3 days, I do not taste it. The chicken thigh tastes somewhat juicy but bland and tastes average. For the rice, the rice does not taste overcooked or dry, and I would pass on this dish unless you prefer lighter curry tastes. 

- Lobster seafood miso and lobster chowder is tasty
- Mussels taste perfect

- Sushi roll wrapped too loose
- All the dishes came at once. Considering the small table, they could have brought the dishes out a couple at a time
- Curry seems intense and overhyped on the menu
- Service could improve, the table was small enough as it was and many empty dishes could have been cleared

- Bonsai beef resembles Phnom Pehn's
- I recommend Kamei Royale for a more quiet dinner and their sushi/sashimi dishes
- A place to drink and for tapas
- I prefer here over any Guu location

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 2.5/5

Kamei Baru on Urbanspoon

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