Japanese owned and operated Sushi Koharu is a hidden culinary gem. Their menu items are reasonably priced, authentic and tasty. Find out why their Scallop Yisoki Tempura is a hit among food critics.
With over 600 sushi eateries in Greater Vancouver, Manzo Nagano would be ecstatic if he were alive today. The first Japanese person known to step foot and settle in Canada, he arrived in New Westminster, British Columbia in 1877 where he eked out a living salmon fishing on the Fraser River. Nagano may be among the trailblazers of Japanese cuisine in Canada.
Ironically, there is only a handful of sushi eateries in Greater Vancouver that are still Japanese owned and operated. Among them is Sushi Koharu. Tucked between a car wash and a realty office, the home-style diner opened its doors in New Westminster four years ago. The tight dining space feels more like a tearoom and sits around a dozen diners.
In polite Japanese gesture, Sushi Koharu owner and chef, Kyogetsu Naruke explains that some menu items require advance order so they can be prepared, and eaten fresh to maximize the ingredients’ flavours. “I use locally grown, seasonal ingredients in most of my cooking,” utters Naruke as she manoeuvers between her open kitchen and dining area.
The Chef Special appetizers were pleasantly delicious: crunchy julienned daikon garnished with salmon roe and fine wakame, handcrafted tuna balls in miso or wrapped in Perilla (shiso) leaves. This unique raw leafy herb releases a mild spicy-citrus-mint flavour upon chewing.
Naruke’s concoction of Wine-Infused Tai & Passion Fruit is scrumptious and original – roe on Japanese tai(sea bream) sashimi over dragon fruit wedges, marinated in red berry wine and passion fruit juice. Sweet, savoury with a slightly firm texture, this cold starter would be a palate tantalizer.
Lean and subtle in taste, sea bream is packed with nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. Revered as the king of fish in Japan, it embraces many cultural connotations. A sumo wrestler or politician holding up a sea bream signifies victory. Salt-grilled tai is served during auspicious and happy occasions like celebrations, weddings or births.
In Japanese cuisine, freshness, flavour balance and visual appeal are keys to a successful dish.
The Tako with Daikon Mash is an interesting, flavoursome dish of puréed radish/daikon blend with whole grapes, topped with boiled octopus slices awash in grape-soya juice. A welcome touch to the palate is Sushi Koharu’s Kyo’s home-style broth of conch simmered in simple consommé.
Ingredients used in the seasonal Koharu rolls are fresh and yummy. The Scallop Yisoki Tempura of lightly battered scallops, onions, and chrysanthemum greens (shungiku) was a hit among food critics. A native of the Mediterranean and East Asia, chrysanthemum greens are loaded with minerals and vitamins. The leaves are commonly found in many Asian stews, hotpots, soups and stir-fries. A varied species is also used in Greek cooking.
Sushi Koharu’s menu items are reasonably priced, dishes are fresh, authentic and tasty. Being a small diner, reservation is highly recommended.