Minami restaurant continues Japanese aburi tradition in Yaletown

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      Yaletown is home to a new Japanese restaurant. Minami (1118 Mainland Street) is owned by Aburi Restaurants Canada, which also owns Vancouver’s Miku restaurant. Both locations specialize in aburi-style sushi, which is flame-seared fish paired with various sauces, giving the sushi a smoked aroma.

      On June 21, Minami officially opened its doors with a grand opening party. Aburi Restaurants Canada owner Seigo Nakamura performed a traditional Japanese ceremony—breaking open a sake barrel—which is associated with bringing a business good luck. Nakamura explained that he first visited Vancouver in 2007 and decided to move his family from Miyazaki, Japan, to the city the following year. In 2008, Aburi Restaurants Canada opened its first Vancouver restaurant, Miku. Nakamura’s second restaurant Minami symbolically means “a beautiful wave” in Japanese.

      Minami has taken over a sprawling sun-drenched commercial space previously occupied by Goldfish Seafood & Chops. The restaurant includes a bar/lounge area, dining room, back patio, and two private dining spaces. The interior of the restaurant is covered in vibrant murals of koi fish, lotus flowers, and lobsters by Japanese artist Hideki Kimura.

      Menus at Minami include lunch, dinner, “bar bites”, cocktails, and sake. Nakamura said that the restaurant currently has 24 types of sake on the menu, which will rotate regularly, and that his aim is for Minami to become the leading restaurant in the city for sake. Barman Shaun Layton has also created a list of inspired, original cocktails, including a Sake Spritz—sake with Aperol and lychee spritz—and Shiso Mojito—shochu (a Japanese spirit), green shiso leaves, and lime.

      Signature sushi dishes include the aburi salmon oshi sushi ($14), which is flame-seared salmon, jalapeno, and Miku sauce. Appetizers and sharing dishes ($11 to $25) include miso-baked duck breast, kanpachi (yellowtail) carpaccio, chicken and foie gras gyoza, and vegetarian-friendly crudités with chili-garlic Moromi-miso. Larger plates include soba noodle dishes ($17 to $18), as well as fish, chicken, and beef dishes ($23 to $34).

      Below, Michelle da Silva photos

      The long, decorative bar at Minami restaurant.

      A selection of aburi-style sushi at Minami.

      Bite-sized shiso mojito watermelon and citrus-cured scallops.

      Jidori chicken and foie gras gyozas in truffle dashi consommé.

      The Blue Wave private dining room at Minami restaurant seats up to 12 people.

      Guests at Minami restaurant’s grand opening party enjoy the back patio.

      You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.