I recently had the opportunity to be a guest at a dinner at Wasabi with a group of fellow food bloggers. Although I am no stranger to Wasabi, the evening was full of new tastes and plenty of surprises.
My first experience at Wasabi on Broadway was in 2008, shortly after I moved back to Winnipeg from BC. After years of eating excellent sushi in and around Vancouver, I have to admit I was worried that sushi on the Prairies just wouldn’t measure up. And I am perfectly happy to admit that I was very wrong. That first dinner at Wasabi was perfect in every way and so memorable that six years later I can still tell you what we ate.
Since then, we have returned to the Broadway location a handful of times and, since its opening, become semi-regular patrons of the Wasabi (aka Wasabi Sabi) on Taylor. We love the atmosphere at “Sabi” and we’re there just enough so that the bartenders know our “usual” – a lycheetini for him and a zentini for me – but every now and then we return to Broadway, where it (and we) all began.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to get the invitation to join the gang for a special evening of tasting. I knew the food would be good, but I was curious to see what they would have in store for us. I was also curious to venture further into the restaurant, because we always eat at the cozy sushi bar at the front door. (Great people watching there and you can see the chefs in action!)
We started with Deluxe Sunomono Salad, then moved on to sashimi (new-style and “Broadway”), scallops, and oysters (raw and baked). I can’t enough about how good everything was.
– The sunomono was filled with a variety of seafood – from shrimp to octopus – and a refreshing start to the meal. It really woke up the tastebuds.
– I had never tried the New Style Sashimi before, but as soon as I tried it, it was an instant favourite. I think this would be a good introduction to sashimi for those who are scared to try raw fish. The lightly seared pieces of fish were perfectly dressed with soy, ginger and garlic and practically melted in the mouth.
– The Broadway Sashimi was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Served on a bed of ice, the jewel-toned slices of raw fish were irresistable. I love sashimi and this was some of the best I have ever had.
– I’m not sure if I want to talk about the raw oysters. Not because they weren’t good (they were)…but because I ate an embarrassing number of them. And, I’m not gonna lie, I could’ve eaten more.
– I think there is a fancy name for the baked oyster, but I was too busy inhaling it to notice. In fact, I distinctly remember a silence falling over our table shortly after these babies arrived. They were hot and bubbly and savoury and what’s more fun than eating out of a giant shell?
– A similar calm fell over our very chatty table when the Yuzu Scallops showed up. These were amazing – plump, sweet seared scallops atop sauteed spinach and surrounded in the most addictive, buttery sauce. (One of the gals at the table had never eaten a scallop before. I’m afraid nothing will ever live up to her first.)
A quick succession of rolls followed – Red Velvet, Lobster, Green Hornet, Zen, and OMG (which, incidentally, lived up to its name.) Wasabi is known for their inventive rolls and these five certainly lived up to that reputation. Each roll was unique in its ingredients, outstanding in presentation, and perfectly balanced in flavour. A couple of us at the table noticed that we didn’t even reach for soy and wasabi to dip. I can”t even pick a favourite, because they were all so different. I loved the grilled veggies in the Zen Roll…but I also loved the simplicity of the Lobster Roll…and the earthiness of the Red Velvet… See what I mean?
Now, you would THINK that after all that food, I wouldn’t still have room for dessert. But, there is ALWAYS room for ice cream. We were given the choice of mango, green tea or black sesame. I threw caution to the wind and ordered the latter, and I’m glad I did. The sesame added a subtle nutty flavour that kept the ice cream from being too sweet. But it wasn’t savoury. It was somewhere in between and very refreshing. The Pocky was a nice touch, too!
From start to finish, the meal was a wonderful experience. The service was excellent and the dishes chosen for us opened my eyes to entire sections of the menu that I had never explored before. I can’t wait to go back and try these new favourites again… but maybe with fewer people to share with. 😉
Wasabi on Broadway is located at 588 Broadway, Winnipeg.