Neighbourhood: Fort Garry
Address: 1270 Pembina Hwy
Kimchi Sushi is not the spot for sushi purists, with rolls baked, fried, doused in sauce and spiked with decidedly untraditional flavours. But what arrives at the table is a love song to multiculturalism, a unique fusion of Asian and Canadian ingredients that happily blur culinary borders.
The sleekly decorated Pembina Highway spot offers some of the city’s best Korean interpretations of the ever-popular Japanese dish. Sushi here is a wild, messy, saucy affair, showing just how far creative chefs can play with the building blocks of seasoned rice and seaweed.
Case in point: sushi pizza. A pillowy bed of rice, warm and crispy from a dunk in the deep-fry, is layered with curls of salmon and a lashing of sweet hoisin-like house sauce, a sunny mango sauce, and sweet Japanese mayo. TNT tempura is another saucy appetizer, crisp under spicy, sweet and soy-laced drizzles.
Rolls are similarly playful, forgoing the severity of edomae-style sushi for fun and unexpected combos, like the Kingston, a modified California roll slathered in sauce, oven baked, and dusted with Parmesan for funky edge. The beautiful Geisha roll, papered with slices of salmon, is slicked with a line of sweet, floral fruit purée, each piece topped with a single pearlescent orb of salmon roe.
The spot’s Korean ownership has also resulted in a selection of favourites from the cuisine, including a playful “I love kimchi” section geared towards ferment fanatics. The rendition of the cabbage condiment served here is charged with vinegary flavour cut with a sweet edge, with less spice than most versions. Excellent Korean-style barbeque shouldn’t be missed, with strands of pork and vegetables, charred and smoky with a marinated-in deeply savoury flavour, dyeing accompanying rice scarlet.
The backdrop to the extravagance on the plate is boldly minimal décor. Black walls and sliding sheer black curtains dividing the dining area and booths lit by bare Edison bulbs create an atmosphere as contemporary as the menu.