Miku is a much-hyped Japanese restaurant that originated in Vancouver and now calls Toronto's waterfront home. Its claim to fame is Aburi-style sushi, which not only commands premium prices but also long lineups at its two west coast locations.
The 200-seat Toronto outpost sits at the base of RBC Water Park Place and shares similar aesthetics with its predecessors in B.C.
The room is airy and minimally adorned with tableware on display throughout, while hand-painted murals from Japanese street artist Hideki Kimura are a focal point. High ceilings and the ceaseless sounds of overhead fans contribute to a cavernous effect.
Cocktails like the Bitter Intentions ($14) featuring aperol, grapefruit and spiced honey, might seem like a natural start, but I'm happy to take advantage of Sake Sommelier Miki Ellis' expertise and let her guide selections by the glass (from $11).
Miku's signature flame-seared sushi is the main attraction and diners seated at the sushi bar are treated to the sight of the itamae using a blowtorch and binchotan charcoal to lightly sear these creations. The Aburi Prime ($55) is an excellent introduction offering a 10 piece omakase selection of nigiri sushi, each uniquely garnished and paired with complementary sauces.
Every piece I try is delicious, but the highlights are easily the oshi sushi; one featuring pressed sockeye salmon is painted in the signature sauce and garnished with just the slightest hint of jalapeno, while the other is a pressed prawn finished with lime zest and ume sauce.
I am not entirely clear on what the process of "pressing" seafood entails, but the result is that the fish has an almost creamy texture and the light sear on top gently caramelizes to sweeten and accentuates the natural flavours. The garnishes are applied with such restraint that the flavours balance really nicely without overpowering the delicious fish or sweet sticky rice.
From the raw bar positioned in the centre of the dining room comes the Coal Harbour Platter ($32/regular, $64/large). It's another showcase of the truly fine (and Ocean Wise-approved) specimens from the sea on offer here, including fresh oysters, oyster shooters, mussels, clams, jumbo prawns, poke, and scallop ceviche with kale goma-ae.
For dessert there's green tea opera cake layering spongey genoise with matcha butter cream, hazelnut wafers, chocolate ganache and adzuki bean cream. True to Japanese style, the pastry isn't overly sweet and proves the perfect way to cap off this meal.
Photos by Jesse Milns