Yesterday was Akemi’s birthday. I had the whole day planned weeks in advance. As it turns out, months in advance as I learned too late that I’d actually booked us for a visit to the dentist back in October. And so, after dropping the dogs off at doggy daycare, we kicked off Akemi’s special day by having our teeth cleaned. On the bright side, upon discovering it was her birthday, our dentist presented Akemi with a few gifts: a pink toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.
Since we had big dinner plans, we opted for a light lunch. Relatively speaking. We headed over to Rodney’s Oyster House where we enjoyed…
After lunch, it was time for our couple’s massage at the Wedgewood Hotel spa compliments of sis and Daisy in Montreal. Akemi enjoyed it immensely, declaring it the best massage she’s had in Vancouver. As for me…meh. I was actually more tense and sore AFTER my massage. Also, what’s the proper etiquette on underwear? I keep mine on. Akemi is more of a free spirit. Thus, I was inside the sauna wearing a bathrobe over my towel over my underwear, standing by the door so that I could keep an eye on my belongings outside (since no locker was provided) and give Akemi the heads up if someone was coming. It was NOT particularly relaxing. Also, I found it odd that we weren’t offered flip-flops and ended up having to walk around barefoot.
Still, it was Akemi’s day and she loved her massage. And that was the most important thing. Outside of the lack of flip-flops.
We picked up the dogs, fed them, and then it was downtown for Akemi’s birthday dinner at her favorite Japanese restaurant: Minami. It, and its sister restaurant, Miku, specialize in aburi (flame-seared sushi) and are part of a restaurant group headquartered in Japan. Most of its sushi and kitchen staff are Japanese. In terms of quality and service, it’s the closest you can get to the Japanese dining experience without actually visiting Japan. But I wanted to go one step further. Aware that the restaurant sourced some of its fish from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market (along with the freshest local catches and ingredients), I contacted one of the managers and arranged to have some more unique selections shipped in for the occasion….
As per my request, we were seated at the sushi bar. There, we were welcomed by Chef Hiroshi Hoshiko who, along with Chef Hideto-san, ensured we were well taken care of.
Dinner was fantastic, reminiscent of the many fine meals I’ve enjoyed in Tokyo.
We started with an appetizer trio: Japanese broccoli and clam, tuna tartar-stuffed ravioli and apple, prawn ohitashi (marinated in sweet vinegar). Then, we moved on to the sashimi plate that included:
Next up -
While we were eating, we noticed the chefs discussing the multicolored contents of a glass container. They noticed our interest and presented us with some “kosen” -
It was very kind of them to share. The rice was a gift to Chef Hiroshi-san from his mother in Japan.
The next course was a heavy hitter:
My description doesn’t do it justice. A tender, well-marbled, incredible dish.
And then, it was on to the sushi. We were served a variety of fabulous nigiri. A few of the highlights -
In addition, we were served a traditional grilled snapper collar followed by a miso soup. We finished with…
A delicate yuzu cake served with a light ginger ice cream, orange compote and pistachio foam.
Best Dinner of the Year. I honestly felt like I was back in Tokyo. Very nastukashii.
A big thank you to our sushi chefs, Hoshiko-san and Hideto-san, and chefs Kazuki Uchigoshi and Michael Acero who conceived and created our special meal. And, of course, an equally big thanks to Minami Event Coordinator Karen Lau who made it happen.
But wait! There’s more! We returned home for the piece de resistance -
Compliments of Beta 5′s Adam Chandler. Wow!
Then, tonight, on the menu…
Akemi thanks you all for the birthday wishes!