Thursday, April 23, 2015

Yaletown Vancouver: Black Rice Izakaya Restaurant Review

Hey guys, I've got another food post for y'all today and if you are a Japanese food lover, you are going to love this one! Recently opened in Yaletown near the CBC station, Black Rice Izakaya is a new Japanese restaurant that specializes in tapas food. The lovely Nosh and Nibble invited me to a tasting earlier this week, so stick around to see what I devoured.......
Black Rice Izakaya
Located near Cambie and Robson, Black Rice features a modern and roomy ambiance. A lot of Japanese restaurants in town tend to be super cramped and hectic so I really appreciated the open and relaxing atmosphere.
Black Rice Izakaya
The current menu, soon to be updated to include even more tapas, features a full range of tapas and rolls. For lunch, there is a selection of Izakaya Teishoku meal sets, which are a great way to sample various items on the menu. I went with Teishoku option C, which features the Misozuke Patagonian Toothfish, a type of cod fish.
Teishoku Option C
Perfectly cooked to a tender and soft texture, the fish comes with a side of salad and it barely had any bones, great for lazy people like me. The lotus root chips tossed on top were quite unique and delicious as well. Additionally, I love how beautifully plated the dish was. The fish even came on a tiny wooden platform! My only critique was that the fish was kind of cold.
Misozuke Patagonian Toothfish
Miso Soup
The Teishoku comes with a small bowl of Miso Soup and a piece of Agedashi Tofu, which was slightly crispy on the outside and milky smooth on the inside. My only critique again was that it was quite cold by the time it got to the table. It would have tasted even better if it was still hot.
Agedashi Tofu
Beef Karaage
In addition to the tofu and the miso, the set came with a few Beef Karaage, a selection of Vegetable Tempura, and some nicely seasoned rice. I didn't really like the beef karaage as they were also kind of cold and had sort of an overly meaty flavor, but that's mostly my personal preference. I love the fact that the rice is seasoned (with the housemade shoyu soy sauce, I think) so it tasted really flavorful just on its own!
Seasoned Rice with Nori & Sesame Seeds
Assorted Tempura
I love tempura anything and I loved the tempura at Black Rice. First of all, how cute is it that they came in a little fryer basket? The batter of these was super crispy and crunchy, there is absolutely no sogginess! The selection of veggie is awesome as well. I got a piece of purple yam, sweet potato, and Japanese squash (thank goodness there was no zucchini tempura, yuck!).
The set also came with nibbles of Oshinko, aka pickled veggies.

In addition to the Teishoku, we were treated to some Saba Nigiri and Black Angus Nigiri. We learnt that Black Rice actually seasons their own saba (mackerel) instead of buying pre-marinated ones and it shows in the flavor. Super tender and tasty, the Saba Nigiri was quite a party in my mouth. The Black Angus Nigiri, on the other hand, is seared on one side with a blowtorch, leaving the meat medium-rare. The nigiri tasted absolutely divine, so soft, fresh, and tender. And believe me when I say it's good because I generally don't even enjoy semi-raw meat and fish.
Saba Nigiri
Black Angus Nigiri
I think the impression I got from just trying the lunch set and the nigiris from Black Rice is that everything is meticulously made. From small details like the garnish to how the dishes are plated, it truly feels like an incredible amount of thought and care went into the making of the dishes. With the exception of the beef karaage and the slightly cold tofu and fish, everything I tasted were delicious. Also, given the reasonable price range (as compared to restaurants like Minami and Miku), Black Rice is definitely a place I see myself revisiting. The lunch set I had is $17. The portion size is conservative but with the variety and the quality of food, it's quite valuable.

Black Rice Izakaya on Urbanspoon