Last night we were invited to a special dinner at Irashai in Coal Harbour. It features upscale Japanese cuisine and tapas and is quietly tucked away on West Pender, between Jervis and Broughton. Within walking distance of home, and in close proximity to Stanley Park (or the #19 Stanley Park bus), this gem’s been hidden from us for far too long.
We began with specialty cocktails (that start around around $8.5) and had our choice of Yuzu Crush (sake, cointreau, rum, yuzu, melon), Sake Martini (sake, vodka, gin), Litchi Whisky Sour (rye, litchi juice, whisky sour mix, soda water), and the Mango Cosmo (mango juice, malibu, vodka).
The first course was the Asparagus Salad with ikura and egg sauce.
This was followed by Rib Eye Beef Tataki with garlic ponzu jelly and ponzu sauce.
I really enjoyed the Tai (Snapper) Sashimi — and as you can see their presentation is just lovely as well.
This was followed by Hamachi Sashimi with daikon salad and pommery mustard dressing.
The Yam Fries were awesome, deep fried in a super light tempura batter.
Fresh Spot Prawns were up next. “They were swimming just 2 hours ago,” said our server, Christine. She also took the heads once we were done, had them deep fried, and brought them back for us to sample. This dish was a real highlight for the group.
The Ice Wine Tuna that came after was delicious – you could really sense the sweet, supple taste of the ice wine in this dish.
The Pearl Chicken Karaage was made with tiny pebbles of rice cracker, which gave it a great crunch.
The Summer Roll (prawn tempura, masago, and cucumber, topped with tuna crunch avocado, sweet soy and spicy mayo) was served alongside the White Slope Roll (real crab and avocado topped with scallop and spicy sauce). The summer roll was also a huge hit with our group and I tell ya, there’s nothing like a California-style roll made with real crab.
Probably my favourite roll of the evening was the Alaska Crab Leg Roll (Alaska King Crab, mango, masago and lemon mayo, deep fried before serving). I’ve had mango in a roll before but this was so subtle that it didn’t overpower any of the other flavours with its sweetness. I’ve also become a huge fan of the lemon mayo.
We called this the “cheeseburger roll”, the Spicy Beef Volcano (beef, cream cheese and asparagus, sprinkled with cheese and baked, topped with spicy sauce) was indeed topped with melted cheese. It’s taking fusion to a whole other level and I must say, it tastes pretty darn good (though may be a bit too rich for some).
Following the rolls we sampled some Sable Fish with savory Yuan Sauce.
The final dinner menu item of the evening was the Aigamo Duck, which didn’t disappoint.
There were too dessert options including Macha CrÃ¨me BrÃ»lÃ©e as well as Mascarpone Tiramisu. I’m regretting the fact that I didn’t get any photos of the green tea crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e once we cracked into it but it was gobbled up pretty fast.
Irashai is located at 1368 West Pender and they’re open for lunch with bento box combo specials that range from about $8-$16. Given the quality of the food, the taste, the atmosphere, and the presentation, I think it’s a decent value for a nice sit-down meal — this ain’t your average one-roll sushi joint. They also have a few strategically-placed televisions that don’t distract too much unless you’re a hockey fan.
For more information you can follow them on Twitter @Irashai, join their Facebook group, or even add your delicious photos to their Flickr group. They also have a special event coming up near the end of the month so it will definitely be worth paying attention.