Here’s a question we’ve debated a little bit around the office: Does it matter if the owners and staff of a restaurant are from the same country as the food they serve? The short answer, it seems is, yes. Some would say there’s good food too be had in ”non-authentic” restaurants. That is very true. Plus the food in those places is usually cheaper, making them even more attractive. The common denominator always ends up being quantity over quality. When it comes to Japanese restaurants, the majority (at least in the Burnaby-New West area) aren’t ”authentic”. One exception is Kura Japanese.
Kura has probably the most unique façades for a Burnaby restaurant. The front door is a stunning piece of work. Ornate wrought iron overlayed on thick, ancient-looking hardwood with metal rings as doorhandles…a solid piece of craftsmanship. I’m quite curious where this door originated from…it looks to have had some history.
Another intriguing aspect is the thick slab of wood overhead. Translation? Anyone?
Judging from the entryway and from what I had heard about Kura, I had a very good feeling about this spot.
The Beef Sashimi was damn near perfect. Perfectly marinated, expertly sliced, well-marbled and loaded with flavour. The beef, a degree or five above freezing was extremely tender yet had a good amount of chewiness. The tart, lemony dip is an excellent counterpoint to the meatiness of the sashimi.
Mirugai Garlic Butter (Geoduck). Geoduck is basically a really big, expensive, nasty-looking, freakishly-large clam. It’s much prized throughout Asia. Being harvested only here in B.C. and Washington State, it can fetch around $30 a pound in Japan. This dish has about six bite-size pieces smothered in sauteed onion and garlic butter…a little smallish considering the price ($8). To me this is a case of a good product overwhelmed with too much ingredient. The garlic butter and scallions would of been ample.
For sushi we went with two of Kura’s special rolls.
The Rainbow Roll and Kyoto Roll were both exceptionally fresh and well-made. The emphasis is on freshness throughout. Two superior rolls made with very good product. The only downside was the mess of wasabi mayo strewn around the Rainbow Roll. If that much effort, care and attention goes into the roll, at least finish it cleanly.
The Kyoto Roll was a big highlight here. Savory BBQ eel and creamy avocado with the light, salty crunch of tobiko around a crunchier tempura prawn and cucumber center drizzled with sweet soy. This is something I will order every time I come back.
Aside from a couple of minor glitches, the food we had at Kura was exceedingly flavourful and very, very fresh. That, it seems, is the biggest difference between ”authentic” and ”non-authentic” Japanese restaurants. In the end, you only wind up spending a buck or so more a dish for a vastly superior product.