There are painted flowers on the floorboards of the freshly-bloomed Japonais Bistro, located on the west side of Jasper Avenue. Brick and ebony wood make up the dim interior, and the walls are bathed in filament light. Modern and urban, the atmosphere matches the bebop playing in the background. This place is hip.
“I could eat a hundred of these,” my lunch partner exclaims after his first taste of the jalapeno yellowtail, a blend of salty and sweet, with the jalapeno complementing the dish with a light burn to the back of the tongue. My honey plum tuna, meanwhile, tastes of thick, sugary plum but leads way to the fresh taste of tuna. These plates summarize Japonais Bistro’s take on sushi.
Each dish is a cocktail of the primary sushi flavours: Sweet, salty, and umami – a Japanese word used by English-speaking chefs to describe the sensation of something savoury. Ingredients that you would normally find overbearing in most sushi become subtle notes at Japonais, such as the mango in the mango fry roll, or the red pepper shiitake mushrooms in the prairie fire rolls.
The menu extends past traditional reinterpretations to outright invention. The soft shell crab burger has the crab take the place of a burger’s crunch while the avocado and spicy aioli provide soft and buttery textures. And for fries? Strips of yam tempura.
To finish, try the matcha crme brle or the banana spring roll desserts. While new to the scene, this bistro will blossom long before summer. (11806 Jasper Ave., 780-760-1616, japonaisbistro.ca)