Neighbourhood: Linden Ridge
Address: 1717 Kenaston Blvd
Entrees: $11 – $20
Japanese cuisine is adored for its sushi, attracting diners with dozens of rice roll ups concealing delicious bits of fish and seafood. For those eager to explore a wider scope of Japan’s flavours, a handful of Winnipeg restaurants are preparing exciting dishes that offer fresh cuts of fish topped with colourful caviar and green micro-leaves.
Asoyama Sushi’s plain exterior belies what lies inside. A substantial dining room is made more intimate with leafy bamboo sticks acting as dividers and stylish fabrics hanging between dining tables. Small tatami dining rooms separated with opaque white screens offer full privacy.
Playful creativity shines on the massive menu. Sashimi and nigri please purists, but additions of bright vinaigrettes and sauces reimagine exciting displays of familiar fish. Starters like hamachi jalapeño and tuna tortilla awaken the taste buds. Citrus laced ponzu enlivens a row of delectable hamachi topped with jalapeños, radish and palate popping fish roe. Hot mustard and honey dill boost each tortilla chip topped with tuna, radish sprouts and jalapeño for exciting bites. Both plates master- fully pair crunch with fresh greens, while packing a hint of heat.
The lengthy list of creative sushi will thrill adventurers. Sweet and spicy sauces along with lavish garnishes amp up signature rolls. The honeymoon roll seductively pleases with its combination of cool cucumber and crisp fried shrimp interior, while seared salmon and sriracha on top leaves the tongue tingling. The R2D2 layers grilled sweet scallops and a mellow spicy mayo on a California roll for a warm variation of a crowd pleaser.
Beyond the nori wrapper, Japanese specialties are plentiful too. Simple grilled eggplant, emboldened with sweet chili and katsuobushi flakes delivers unexpected umami to this veggie. Dori karaage (fried chicken), delicately battered and crisp atop shredded lettuce, is a juicy hit.
Concealed in its big box suburban surroundings, Asoyama continues to surprise and delight with cheeky culinary deftness. Despite a wildly ambitious menu, precise execution seems to be its secret to success.