Irashai Grill (web site, map, 1368 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 604-688-8697) is a newly opened Japanese fusion restaurant in the Coal Harbour neighborhood of downtown Vancouver. Having attended their open house a few weeks ago (see Part 1), I was interested in trying out the restaurant for an actual meal. I was in for a real treat!
My friend and I first ordered the Dragon Roll Sushi ($13.50, pictured below), which looked and tasted amazing. The Dragon Roll was on their special rolls menu (not listed on their web site) and was a creation made with shrimp, tempura, avocado, barbecued eel (unagi), and of course the sushi rice and nori seaweed. It was quite sweet tasting (because of the sauce that the eel is marinated with), and was light and immensely satisfying. I commented to my friend that I could easily eat one of these every day. If only I could afford it!
The Tako Sunomono (a cold salad made with octopus, vermicelli noodles and a sweet and tangy vinegary broth) was $7.50 and was presented very nicely in a large cocktail glass (pictured below). It is one of my favorite appetizers at Japanese restaurants and the Irashai version did not disappoint! I would have liked it to be bigger, but that is just my wishful thinking because it was a decent size for an appetizer after all.
Now comes to the most interesting part of the meal. We were perusing the menu and discovered a very unusual sounding sushi roll item. Unusual I say? Yes! I’ll explain.
In general, for creative dishes that are designed by the chef using a culinary “artistic license”, the name of the dish, if it is somewhat abstract and not a simple description of the ingredients, will relate to the theme of the dish in some way. What this means is, I was curious to see exactly what a Poison Spider Volcano would taste like. No kidding! Would there be an actual spider involved in this sushi, and would this spider have some sort of deadly poison? Also it was very important for me to find out how a volcano would be represented in the form of rice and other sushi-like ingredients on a dinner plate.
The good old poison spider and its friendly volcano home ($16, pictured below) was made with asparagus, soft shell crab, cream cheese, and was sprinkled with cheese. It was baked before serving and then topped with a super spicy miso sauce. Super spicy is an understatement! The powerful spicy sauce reminded me of the Crazy Boy Roll at Mr. Sushi but the Poison Spider Volcano sushi had a much more complex and rich flavor (thanks to the cheese and cream cheese). It was very filling, which is a good thing in my books. My vote: thumbs up, but the sauce was too spicy for my friend.
For dessert we tried their Marscapone Tiramisu ($5.50, also pictured below) which was a generous amount of cool sweet marscapone cheese served in an interesting ceramic tray topped with a layer of dusted cocoa. The cocoa was very fine and powdery. This was a wonderful contrasting dish to calm things down after the spicy spider!