Wow, I don't think I've ever been the first to post at a restaurant that I didn't "add to urbanspoon"! Kai Sushi Bar did their soft-opening by good old word of mouth. Luckily, a friend of mine knows someone who knew someone, and there we go! The restaurant is the opposite of an izakaya...brightly lit, no screaming waitresses when you enter and no loud background music. Instead, we were seated quickly, and then handed menus. Coiled menus with lots of items. Since there were only two of us, we had to restrict ourselves to five dishes...and even that was a lot.
We started off with the Seafood Butteryaki...I suspected what it was, but imagine our delight when she explained that it was simply food cooked in butter, well a butter sauce, but still. The buttery flavour was super intense, but the sweetness of the prawns and scallop were not lost.
There was a small sliver of lemon on the bottom...just a bit of a tang. The burnt parts were nice and crisp, giving everything a nice charred flavour.
As with any restaurant, I go for the Ikura. This place did that quite well too. Although there wasn't tons of ikura per piece, they also didn't try to stuff you with a large blob of rice. I actually found this to be a perfect mouthful.
It's impossible to bite ikura sushi in half without losing half of the ikura, and some places give you so much rice that you think you'll gag/choke if you attempt to put the whole thing into your mouth. Well, this solves the dilemma. A lady can put the whole thing in her mouth and not look like a chipmunk storing nuts for winter.
The next thing we tried is called the San Francisco Roll. The contents are not that surprising...made up of dungeness crab, cocktail shrimp (I like that they tell you it's cocktail so you're not expecting ebi) and cucumber. What make the roll distinctive were the tamago crepe they use to roll it in, instead of nori, and they forego the more common tobiko with gold tobiko. All in all, the dish was very difference than your usual rolls.
The tamago crepe didn't make the roll sweet, but it made it less salty...and it allowed the sweetness of the crab and shirmp to really shine. It wasn't laden with wasabi, rather it was a mixed with a light Kewpie mayo dressing and some finely diced green onions.
Our next roll was a walk on the Western side, their Bacon & Scallop Roll. A very common hors d'oeuvre is bacon-wrapped scallops, lightly grilled. Well, here at Kai, they took the concept to heart and made it into a roll. Imagine crispy bacon lining the roll, with scallops rolled into it all, and then wrapped with nori.
As you can see, their rolls aren't hockey puck sized servings, but rather delicate. Five pieces where the filling is balanced well with the rice is way better than eight pieces full of rice. At the top of the screen is the tip of the roll, and the gigantic piece of bacon sticking out at one end.
See the big pieces of scallop and the red slices of meaty bacon? Again, just a bit of shredded cucumber and lettuce to complete the roll.
Our last dish was the Garlic Short Ribs. It was a fairly large serving, and I liked they way the sliced it up for you. You probably still need to use your hands to work with the bone. I know my chopstick skills might have not been appreciated by my neighbours, as the bone goes flying into their miso soup.
The meat was flavourful, but I felt that it was lacking something. A lemon wedge does accompany the dish, but I would definitely prefer a dipping sauce of some kind...either citrus or soy based.
I would recommend giving this restaurant a try in a few weeks. They are still having some growing pains. For example, we were given menus, ordered and received our first dish before we received the tea that we asked for. Oh, they don't have their liquor license yet...some growing pains, but promising.