Vancouver is arguably the sushi capital of the world. With literally hundreds of Japanese restaurants across the Lower Mainland, how do restaurants these days distinguish themselves from such a saturated market? Well, many new Japanese eateries these days are taking culinary creativity to the next level by specializing in ‘aburi sushi‘. ‘Aburi sushi’ translates to lightly flame-seared torched pressed sushi or box sushi served with creative sauces. Miku, a well known Japanese high end restaurant, was the first to introduce the concept of flame searing fish almost a decade ago. Unlike traditional sushi rolls, soy sauce and wasabi are not incorporated in each roll as aburi style sushi is to be enjoyed as is.
Yui Japanese Bistro is the latest restaurant to join the hype featuring aburi style sushi at an affordable price. Out of all the places I’ve been to, Yui is probably the cheapest place I’ve encountered for aburi sushi as many of the current establishments are pretty much on par with Miku’s pricing around $15-17 a pop. If not, more. (Yeah, I’m talking about you, Taka). Yui is located in downtown Vancouver and is operated by two chefs who have previously worked at Minami, Miku’s sister restaurant. I’ve been told through the grapevine that their aburi sushi tastes exactly like Miku/Minami so of course I had to check to see myself as I’m a huge fan of aburi sushi. The place is a bit tricky to get to as they’re located right inside a building complex, but they do have signage!
Walking in at 5:30pm, the place was almost at full capacity. Luckily, we got a seat at the counter to see all the action happening 🙂 Please note that the place is really small with about 20-25 seats so it’s best to go right before rush hour.
Utensils and sauces are already nicely plated ahead of time. Operating at such a tight spot, it’s understandable that they have a limited menu with only a few rolls, aburi oshi, salad, noodles, tempura to work with. I can almost guarantee you that people really only come here for aburi oshi.
They actually make their aburi sushi ahead of time due to time constraints. But they make them fresh on the day of as they go for efficiency. Now I’m starting to wonder if Miku and Minami follow the same concept to pump food out faster. 🙄
Different specialty sauces are added to each aburi oshi accordingly to complement the searing process.
Aburi action in the making 😉
Adding the final touches…!
From left to right: Ebi (shrimp), Salmon, Saba (mackerel)
Aburi Ebi ($10.25) Shrimp, lime sauce, ume sauce. The texture of this is almost on point with Miku. However, the layer of the ebi was a little thin making the fish to rice ratio slightly off.
Aburi Salmon ($10.25) Sockeye salmon, jalapeño housemade sauce. This one definitely resembled Miku’s version of salmon oshi. Very flavourful and every bite you take just melts in your mouth. So delicious!
Aburi Saba ($10.25) Mackerel, shiso, miso sauce. Surprisingly, I liked this one the most out of the bunch. Saba almost always leaves a fishy aftertaste every time I order it at Japanese restaurants. However, this wasn’t the case. The saba was cured lightly with a refreshing umami taste.
Yui Special Roll ($13.00) Salmon, scallop, crab, cucumber, rolled in tobiko, house-made sauce. The ingredients incorporated were really fresh and complemented each other very well. This one was packed with flavour! Also shockingly similar to the ‘Miku Roll’.
Chicken Chashu ($10.50) with udon or rice. Final item to arrive at the table was this bowl of deliciousness! The charshu was amazingly tender, juicy, and moist. I didn’t even know chicken could taste that succulent. The soup base was quite interesting- nothing I’ve ever had before when it comes to udon noodles. The broth had underlying notes that reminded me of Chinese herbal soup. I can only describe the taste as ‘healthy’ for now.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the execution of the aburi rolls here. Especially at the price point of $10.25. You could say my tummy and wallet left satisfied.
102-1185 W Georgia St