We accidentally met a gracious host and best of all, a person who seeks the best eats in Vancouver and beyond who also happens to be my cousin's girlfriend. In my other Vancouver-related posts I mention her, Kimbo, a few times because she took us around for sight-seeing and restaurant hopping. We immediately clicked when we talked about food and the places she visited in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Europe. It is evident she has good taste.
After much discussion about all types of food. I mentioned that since we were in Vancouver it was imperative to eat fresh fish which means sushi, which also turns out to be Kimbo's favorite type of cuisine. She excitedly talked about her favorite spot -- Hanako in Surrey. And it was because of her I had my best sushi experience, thus far.
A little background: Kimbo and her sister have been around the block like Samantha from Sex and City eating at sushi joints around Greater Vancouver and Los Angeles. They both highly endorse Hanako as their favorite.
Hanako is a small sushi joint in a small strip mall in a small town. The car ride from downtown Vancouver was a little over 30 minutes. We sat at the bar and the chef greeted Kimbo was a wide smile (she is a regular.) We let Kimbo do the ordering and sat back while the chef went to work.
We started with the crab salad, very simple but with depths of flavors and textures. Oh, the textures really made the salad go from simple to umpteen simply delicious. The salad consist of julienne jimaca, celery, yellow chives, crab, and cucumber on a bed of endives, taro chips, tomatoes and sprinkled with tobiko. The crunch from the chips, the bitterness of the endives and the sweetness of the crab felt like a "Whole Foods" exploded.
Fried Amaebi headsNext up was baked crab head. The crab roe is already fantastic on its own but he elevated it with mushroom and spinach. Roe heaven.
The ankimo was my favorite. The liver was spotless, smooth, even color tone throughout, light yellow, sweet and buttery. Without doubt, the best ankimo I've tasted and physically the most beautiful too.
AnkimoNow we begin our wave of nigiri. The only complaint is the progression of the fish. Again, I am not an expert but I do know toro should be the last fish eaten because it is so rich and fatty it can over take the palate. Of course there are no stringent rules but my personal preference would be to start from lighter to darker fish. The chef was making the nigiri quickly and started with the toro. I saved the toro for last.
I think by default, Vancouver has great access to an abundant of fresh fishes and seafood. Our hamachi, ika, halibut, saba, geoduck, wild sockeye salmon, and amaebi was fantastic. I have no other choice words. I can really distinguish each type of fish flavors. The amount of rice was portion for a perfect one bite; sticky yet each grain held its own shape.
Back to the toro. I never seen toro bleed fat like a kobe steak. Yes, I'll say it again: the toro was so rich and fatty it was bleeding fat. This is what dreams are made of.