Last Sunday, I decided to pay a visit to Zest, a quiet restaurant on 16th avenue. The restaurant opened in 2005, led by the Executive Chef Yoshiaki Maniwa. In 2012, Zest was rated as the Best Upscale Japanese Restaurant in Vancouver.
We were the first table to be seated and the chefs were just getting ready for the evening. I ordered some genmai-cha and looked through the menu. Recommended by our server, we decided to share one Zest Tasting Course and one Zest Dinner Course. The portion was about right for two people. Since there would be sashimi (mostly fish) in many courses and the nirigi would have fish too, we chose the Bavette Steak instead of the sable fish as main course.
The Sashimi salad came right after we ordered, together with a small bowl of spinach gomaae. There were slices of salmon, tuna and surf clam on the seaweed and organic greens. The soy sauce dressing mixed extremely well with the oceanic flavor of the sashimi.
The seafood sunomono had some sliced octopus and more surf clam in it. I am a surf clam lover personally as the flavor of this clam is sweet and the texture is chewy. The vinaigrette jelly and cucumber were refreshing.
Hassun means “small appertizers” in Japanese. The hassun at Zest were original and delicious. The crab meat salad (on the left) is rich and flavorful. The deep fried salmon (on the left) with vinaigrette is original. The tuna carpaccio is fresh but not worth having again but the green beans with sesame sauce is quite special.
The fluffy chilly prawn was spicy and savory but the prawns were a little over-cooked and the shell of the prawn was not crispy at all. This is probably another dish that I wouldn’t try again at Zest.
The tempura was average considering that it was nicely laid out but, again, the prawns were over-fried and the yam was not sweet at all.
The sautée chicken had the best sauce I’ve tasted so far in this meal. The honey garlic sauce blended well with the natural flavor of the chicken thigh. The chicken was juicy and savory as the portion was small but considering there are more to come, it was alright.
The Bavette steak with apple slices and bean sprout on top was our last main course. The beef was a little tough but the miso flavor was quite delicious. The sauté mushrooms underneath the steak were soft and flavorful. However, I would recommend the sable fish as the main course in the Dinner Tasting Course rather than the steak.
Finally, the nirigi was brought to the table. We had a variety of sashimi on the nirigi, such as yellowtail, salmon, octopus, albercore tuna, etc. The nirigi came from the chef’s daily selection of the freshest seafood, tasted light and natural. The nirigi’s quality was impressive and delicious.
We had the green tea tiramisu and sake & raisin ice cream. The tiramisu was mediocre but the sake & raisin ice cream was amazing. The flavor of the sake was not too strong but just enough to lighten the usual creamy flavor of ice cream. The combination of the raisin has the flavor of western red wine mixing with the eastern flavor of the sake.
Despite several dishes that were not as impressive, both the Tasting Course and the Dinner Course were carefully laid out and definitely picked the freshest ingredients. The price was on the expensive side since the portions of the dishes were small and a dinner like ours without alcohol was about $110 for two people. The service was decent and the ice cream was excellent!