The Dish: High-end, mouthwatering Japanese cuisine

Masayoshi's sablefish oozes the fruity, umami, and fermented notes of the sake kasu it’s marinated in

May 27, 2016

By Eagranie Yuh / Photo: Marshall To

There is a certain thrill that comes from abdicating responsibility, even if it’s as simple as allowing chef Masayoshi Baba to decide what you’re having for dinner. That’s especially true if it includes the sablefish, a gorgeously buttery fish under gently torched skin that oozes the fruity, umami, and fermented notes of the sake kasu it’s marinated in. Then there’s the smoked salmon, which arrives under a cut-glass bowl and bathes you with a plume of hickory smoke when it’s removed. The fish, which tastes of a campfire before mellowing to sweet cherrywood notes, is served with a salad of pea shoots and baby arugula in a vinaigrette that smacks your palate awake—in the best sort of way.

Those are just two of the highlights from the often-rotating menu of hot omakase, which comes in two iterations: $100 is a solid bet, and $120 gets you specialty nigiri items. If it’s sushi you’re after, there’s also the nigiri sushi omakase ($80), which is served only at the bar. “Fresh sushi is the most delicious sushi,” Baba says. “If I make nigiri and then it goes to the table, it’s a little bit old. The best sushi is at my counter.” His menu, naturally, changes according to what’s fresh and in season.

Service is spot-on thanks to general manager Tomohisa Uchida, who works the small space with aplomb. “We didn’t want to have the same sushi restaurant with a low ceiling and the smell of vinegar and tempura,” Uchida says. “We wanted high ceilings, big windows, and a clear atmosphere.” They found all of that in a former cafe on the 4300 block of Fraser Street, but when Masayoshi opened in September, its high-end concept and leisurely pace clashed with diners expecting takeout, rolls, and cheap-and-cheerful efficiency.

Now, a few months in, Baba and Uchida (both alumni of Tojo’s) have hit their stride with a streamlined menu and a clearer vision—one that emphasizes omakase. Consider yourself warned, then. Dining at Masayoshi plays out like a slow dance between restaurant and diner, a languid exchange that cannot—and should not—be rushed.

Masayoshi
4376 Fraser St., 604-428-6272
masayoshi.ca

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