Yesterday was big news because I tried congealed blood for the first time. Today is big news because I’m announcing the single most delicious bite I’ve taken in 119 days. Considering I’ve eaten an outrageous amount of good food since I began this job, that’s a mighty bold statement.
What was it? I’m not going to make you wait. It was MISO-MARINATED BLACK COD, and it was spec-tac-u-lar; pure, gorgeous, balanced, round, buttery flavour that took up every last fibre of the perfectly cooked fish. The cod skin was crisp and inky black, with a fine layer of fat beneath it. It was a relatively small portion, but so rich and savoury only a few bites were needed. Actually, I’m lying – I could have eaten four portions of it.
this fish. This Fish. THIS FISH! It may look modest, but it was bewilderingly good.
I’d never explored this area before, and now have a dozen new restaurants added to my list. I went with my friends Stephen and Holly, who just got married this past August. I asked them to please wear their suit and dress to dinner, and they obliged. Holly even brought along a champagne glass for her water. Thanks guy! You looked great.
Before I get into everything we ate, I’d like to note that Kiriri’s menu accommodates many different eating preferences. Holly has a severe allergy to dairy, so we steered clear of that (which is easy to do with sushi), and much of what they have is gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan. So if you or someone you know struggles with allergies, this might be a good place to try.
We started with the organic mixed mushroom salad ($8). It came with warm sauteed mushrooms in a savoury vinaigrette and was served on organic greens. This was Holly’s favourite dish of the evening, and I can see why – it was simple, earthy, and beautifully-prepared.
The fried slices of lotus root were crunchy and satisfying, like hole-punched potato chips!
We also started with a serving of gomae ($3). The super-nutty sesame dressing was mixed in (rather than spooned on top), and the spinach was tender with a slight crunch to it. In other words, Kiriri nailed it.
For rolls, we ordered the Great Salmon Roll ($10), the Dynamite Roll ($5), the Spider Roll ($12) and the Yama Gobo roll ($4.50). The biggest hit of the night was the Great Salmon Roll. The chefs at Kiriri clearly understand you can’t name s0mething “Great” and produce anything less.
It consisted of salmon and avocado wrapped in soy paper and topped with salmon, mango, and crunchy shibazuke (a type of Japanese pickle). It was a wicked mix of sweet and savoury flavours, and I always love a punch of fruit and/or pickle in my sushi rolls. The soy paper was a pearly-pink sheet laid on top. Soy paper was first introduced as an alternative to nori (the seaweed usually used in rolls), and is gluten-free, faintly sweet, and quite delicate.
The dynamite roll was spicier than I’m used to, but in a good way. The crunch of the tempura’d prawns was amped up by a slathering of mayo + crunchy tobiko. Loved the flavours, though they were a little too large to eat comfortably in one bite.
The yama gobo (burdock root) roll was quite simple, with pieces of bright orange, crunchy burdock at its center. The first time I ever tried burdock was at Tsujiki, where it was cut into strips, marinated and served in a salad.
I actually preferred that dish to this roll, but either way, it’s still an ingredient that’s packed full of healthy vitamins. Go yama gobo go!
The spider roll had soft shell crab tempura, avocado, tobiko, finely shredded daikon, and cucumber, all wrapped in yellow soy paper. To employ a seasonal simile, the tempura was as crunchy as the driest, most crackly leaf you could possible crunch underfoot on the sidewalk. That is, by the way, one of my favourite things about Autumn.
While the crab was lovely, we found the roll lacked the flavourful ‘umph’ of the dynamite roll, so for your money’s worth, that’s what I’d recommend ordering if you’re choosing between the two.
We tried two pieces of sushi: the salmon ($2), and the Kanpachi Amber Jack ($4.25, one of their seasonal specials that night). Stephen had the salmon, and said its texture “was like butter.” I had the Amber Jack.
I had to do some research on this Jack guy because I’d never heard of him before; apparently, he’s a type of ‘promoting fish,’ meaning his name changes with age. In its infancy, at a length of 1 foot, the fish is called a “Shokko Amber Jack.” By the time its length surpasses 4 feet, it’s referred to as “Kanpachi Amber Jack,” or, “what I was snacking on last night.” It was good, though to be honest, I really just wished it was more miso-marinated black cod.
The last thing to mention are the sides that came with the cod ($14 on its own); for $5, we ‘upgraded’ to a meal that included rice, miso soup, sunomono salad, and a few Japanese-style vegetables. While it all made for one very healthy meal, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the upgrade. The individual sides were tasty, but not really remarkable. I did enjoy the sunomono, which had rice noodles that looked like broken shards of ice, as well as a piece of orange that tasted whiz-bang* with the marinated cucumber. I think I’ll always want a piece of fresh orange in my sunomono from now on.
The fish also came with what I believe was finely pureed daikon (at the left in the picture above) which I honestly ignored after sampling it when it first came to the table. It was pleasant enough – fresh and almost mustardy – but I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my black cod. It was one of those rare times when I saw condiments as the enemy.
Kiriri is not a restaurant to go to for a cheap and quick meal. It’s a place with high standards for its food, and prices which reflect that. The presentation of each dish is thoughtful, and the flavours are complex enough that you’ll want to sit back, close your eyes, and concentrate on each new bite. That’s a wonderful thing to experience in a restaurant. If all you do is go there by yourself and order the black cod, I’ll be happy. And trust me, you will be too.
*I consulted the thesaurus for words that mean ‘amazing,’ and when this one came up I couldn’t use anything else. I don’t even think it’s grammatically correct in this sentence, but it’s staying. I don’t care what you say.
Cash and cards accepted
Plenty of vegetarian (and vegan) options available