I often wonder if Japanese food can be elevated to new heights. Fusion-style sushi rolls are the nouveau thing where ingredients typical from another region (or for particular tastes) are blended. I just can not get used to cream cheese in rolls because I’ve found chefs use too much, and maybe one day I’ll find the person who knows how to use it sparingly to bring out the taste of the other ingredients.
But just how far can innovation go? What about other common street food? One of the staples of this ethnic nation is about how much folks love their ramen. There’s a quintessence needed to make the noodle special. Without the proper delicate balance between the four basic ingredients used, the noodle can fall apart. There won’t be a firmness that’s savoured and unless it is done right, I can’t quite be willing to return to an operation in the quest for eating more.
Sure, James swears by one operation, Kuma. I give him props for sticking to what he likes but I’ll keep teasing him because he’s faithful to this operation as much as how he’s dedicated to Sushi Plus. He lives in a small world. I’m always broadening my world in my search to find that one special place that recreates what I adored from decades ago. A Japanese operation used to occupy Yates where they made the most colourfully presented ramen that I enjoyed. The Next comes close. Their portion sliced BBQ pork in the dish I had was huge. Missing was the wakame, but in what’s used in their place, some pickled radish, crispy kale and thinly sliced carrot made up for what I call ramen with a West Coast twist. The soy broth was delicate and I did not want to come up for air because I really enjoyed the mix of textures offered. I can easily start to love this western style twist to a traditional staple.
Of course, I had to try some of their sushi too. No place can escape my craving for the holy trinity of fish: tuna, salmon and mackerel. Sadly, I had to choose only one because I’d be eating too much. The rolls offered here may seem like nothing special but I had to scan several lines down to find some flavours to which I believe are unique to this operation and not recreated elsewhere. I could have overdosed on tuna. There’s an ahi tuna roll with roast garlic (pickled red onion and cucumber complemented the strong flavour), a sake-ahi roll (I have to wonder if I can get drunk on this?), and aburi mackerel (fresh thyme is offered in this dish). I’ll have to return to try the sake and aburi, but I was sold on the former. I wondered how intense the garlic would come out but it was very mild. Searing garlic will do that.
I think Cook Street Village has a new fixture that will make me want to visit more. It took a while for the waitress to warm up to me but as I showed my love for the exotic, they knew I love my sushi.The establishment is not located on the Cook Street side, but is looking out at Sutej Street. You can’t people watch but that’s okay. When I came here on a desire to sate my want for ramen, what’s offered certainly hits the spot! I’m fairly sure everything is made in-house, and I could taste it. When ramen gets overcooked, which had happened to me at Kuma, the one place which I used to love to visit needs fixing.
At least here, I can enjoy the pleasant service and enjoy the vibe that makes this part of town unique. Pic-A-Flic is nearby and they always have some unique foreign titles I love to rent. Yes, that includes Japanese films to which I’ll have to peruse. It’s been a while since I’ve been in there. When I have to trek across town to return videos, it’s a good enough reason to visit The Next again.
4 Blokes out of 5