Thursday, January 15, 2009

Omi Sushi

I've been to Hiro and Kaji and they're both great, but Omi Sushi (on Carlton at Parliament, not the one on Church Street) is the best sushi restaurant in town, positively transcendent. Chef John Lee is prone to experimenting. Lately, he's been in the news for his habit of searing nigiri with a blowtorch before serving.

Lee is also famous, at least in my books, for his fine work with white tuna (or albacore as it is commonly known). He gets it fresh from the Pacific coast, the very same catch that ends up in those little cans from Cloverleaf. But the difference between what Lee serves and what comes in a can is like the difference between ice cream and shoe polish. White tuna has a soft, elegant, subtle taste, and Lee dazzles when he drizzles roast garlic oil on top, making the flavour combust.

On January 12th, I treated myself to one of the January specials, namely white tuna in roast garlic comfit. Four breathtaking slabs of albacore rest against a bed of shredded carrot, sprouts and greens. The comfit adds a dimension of flavour that made each bite ravishing. White tuna's texture is so creamy that this could qualify as a dessert. Amazing. If I were rich, I'd eat five or six of these. A day. That was followed by avocado and unagi roll. Lee cuts the avocado in thin slices and terraces them atop the rice roll, creating a visually stimulating impression. The flavour is delicate, yet definite. Lee's food is so light it could be served on a cloud.

On a previous visit, I had a bowl of miso soup. Never one to keep it bland, Lee adds a ladle of cream at the last minute. The results were silky and gorgeous. He took a bowl of soup and with the flick of his wand turned it into strikingly original haute cuisine. This is why he's a genius.