gracecheung604 | write on time: Chinese Bites: KiBo Restaurant & Lounge

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chinese Bites: KiBo Restaurant & Lounge

Several weeks ago, I was asked to join fellow foodies to be a part of Chinese Bites and their Signature Dishes Tour. Due to scheduling issues and a holiday in Miami & Eastern Caribbean, this was my first chance to attend one of these dinners. Although tonight's dinner wasn't Chinese, it was still great for a bunch of foodies to get together and share a great meal at Kibo, a new Japanese restaurant in Yaletown. Joining in on the fun were Bennett, Sherman, Rick, Janice, Alvin, Kevin, and Romina
They did quite a bit of renovation to the space (it used to be a pizza joint named Charlie's). And as you can see, the interior is sleek and modern. I really liked their lighting, the big round orb changes colours as you dine. Other lighting in the space actually was the same as the ones I have in my own apartment!
P1020323 The first dish to arrive was their Assorted Sashimi with an assortment of sauces. The tuna was my standout favourite, perhaps because it was the least "sauced" and you could really taste the freshness of the fish. Presentation was pretty, but not overly fussy either.
P1020326 This next dish is their Beef Carpaccio, with a wasabi dressing and a sprinkling of truffle oil. The aroma of this dish was amazing. The meat was sliced just a bit thick for my liking, but the rich sauce does help you ignore that quite readily.
P1020333 Up next is the KiBo salad - fresh greens topped with tuna, salmon and some mango and avocado. Perfect for a sunny summer day. It's refreshing with a great blend of texture, the cucumber gives it a nice crunch and a citrus dressing rounds out the dish nicely.
P1020336 Here we have something that I've only ever had at Ebisu, it's the Chikuwa Cheese, off their Hot Foods menu. Essentially, it's a fishcake tube stuffed with cheese and then deep fried to a melting gooeyness. The cheese is melted right through (so be sure to eat it right away before it hardens), but the crispy batter and the fish are a perfect coating for this. Add a squirt of lemon and you're good to go! 
P1020340 Next we have some Assorted Nigiri, your standard mix of tuna, salmon, squid and, I don't know if you can see it, but there is a small amaebi at the end. I stole this one pretty fast. The sauce and the garnish on the nigiri pretty much negates the need for wasabi, and are selected to enhance the flavour of each fish. I liked the tuna the best, yes, just as I did with the sashimi.
P1020343 Most of the things we've had so far have been raw, so the next two dishes showcases what happens in the kitchen. First we have the Beef Short Rib, which had an intense flavour due to the marinade. Perhaps because the rest of the dishes were so clean and fresh, this stood out. The sauce is typical of an Asian barbecue sauce, but I do like the sear that they got onto the meat, love those grill marks.

P1020345 And the next dish is the Ebi Bacon. This is actually reminiscent of the Pancetta Unagi from Ki, but on a less pricier scale. Here you get 3 prawns for $9 but at Ki, it's 2 pieces of Unagi for $12. You do the math. The bacon could be a little crisper, but that might dry out the prawn, so it's a catch 22, I guess.
P1020347 First of the four rolls that we got to try was the Hamilton Maki, with a tempura prawn and some avocado inside, and a blend of tuna and salmon on the outside. This was good, moist with a creaminess from the avocado , and the fish on top made the dish look just that much more elegant.

P1020349 Ahh, more deep-fried goodness, the next is the Volcano Roll, aptly named due to the deep fried goodness of this roll. The Spicy tuna and avocado filling was good, as was the extra spicy sauce on top. The one thing that seemed to be a shame to this delicious roll? The fact that the tuna got semi-cooked in the deep-frying...couldn't be helped, I suppose, but a raw tuna (if possible) would have made this roll spectacular.
First off, apologies are in order for the blurry shot (if someone wants to get me a "real" camera", I'm all ears), but the next roll we got was the Dragon Roll, with another prawn and cucumber, but the twist was the unagi and avocado on the outside. This was the driest of the rolls, since there wasn't any additional sauces, but the juiciness of the unagi really came through. This was a winner in my books.
P1020360 And our very last roll was the Mango Roll, with prawns, avocado, basil and mango inside and a covering of smoked salmon on the outside. Perhaps I was getting full, perhaps I was all "rolled" out, but this one was less inspiring to my taste buds, but I have to give credit to the chef for the fresh mango.
P1020356 And back to the cooked's our Sablefish...grilled perfectly with excellent and pronounced grill marks, this one hit all the notes I craved. The fish flaked, was buttery and creamy, just as it should be!
P1020364 We also got to try an order of the KiBo beef, which was so tender and moist. The sauce is sweet and savoury, with a great balance between the two. What I really liked was the way it was served, sliced (because none of us had a knife) but it was meltingly soft. Finish it with some greens and you're set!
P1020368 And just when you thought we couldn't eat anymore, we did! We tried the Australian Rack of Lamb. These were like lollies on a stick, meat lollies, but still great nonetheless. I would have preferred a dipping sauce (spicy please), but I have zero complaints about the done-ness of the lamb. The texture was right, and so was the grilling, but I would have liked a bit more of a kick to this.
Aha, you might think this is just your average teapot, but you'd be wrong!
P1020376 This is their Seafood Dobin, a traditional Japanese broth loaded with seafood, such as clams, mussels and salmon. The broth is piping hot and you serve yourself in little sake cups. But the best part is digging into the pot to see what kinds of seafood is harboured within. 
Although KiBo is new and in a challenged location (Charlies lasted two months), I have high hope for this place and wish it all the best!
Take note:
  • Save room for the Seafood Dobin, great way to end your meal
  • Be sure to order a mix of sushi/sashimi and cooked foods for full flavours
  • For something new, try the Chikuwa Cheese
**KiBo hosted Chinese Bites for this tasting but my opinions are my own.**

More reviews available here for Signature Dishes Tour Dinners. 

KiBo Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

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