Tuna in Three Ways
I’ve been hearing about Zest for some time now, but I never knew where it was exactly. It’s actually pretty hidden, right on West 16th and Macdonald. You wouldn’t expect to find such a popular restaurant here. It’s contemporary Japanese cuisine, and the space is rather small, but filled up very quickly. I realized that most of the diners were Japanese too, which is always a good sign. We started off with Tuna in Three Ways. On the right was big eye tuna carpaccio with soy mustard onion dressing. This was probably my favourite. It was essentially tuna sashimi with a light dressing. In the middle was albacore tuna and avocada with nori soy sauce. The creaminess of the avocado worked well with the tuna. Lastly, on the far right was the big eye tuna tataki with mizore Ponzu. This was your typical tuna tataki with Ponzu sauce. Their tuna was definitely very fresh and I liked how they didn’t over-sear the tuna. Just a thin layer that was seared.
Assorted Mushroom Tempura
Next, we got one of their featured dishes that changes depending on seasonality. We got the Assorted Mushroom Tempura, which like it’s name said, came with an assortment of wild mushrooms. I honestly don’t remember the names of each mushroom, but they all had distinct flavours. It came with curry salt on the side, which actually complemented the dish really well. However, my only issue with the dish was that it started to feel really oily after eating the second mushroom. It was just a mouthful of tempura by the end of the dish. Since they present each dish at a time, you have to finish this dish before moving on. The dish would’ve been nice if I had some other dishes to eat from in between each mushroom.
Grilled BC Wild Spring Salmon Misozuke
The Grilled BC Wild Spring Salmon Misozuke was a nice twist to your typical grilled salmon. I especially loved the sweet miso sauce on top. What was even better is that the fish itself had miso flavour since the fish is cured in a house blend miso for 48 hours! It came with some sauteed kale on the side and an organic quinoa salad on top. Loved the miso flavour in the fish! The salmon was still moist as well!
Another entree we ordered was the Tenderloin Katsu. I found this to be just average. The tenderloin was panko crusted and deep fried. However, the issue I have with katsu is that it tends to be a little dry. However, the Fuji apple salad and house blend sweet miso definitely helped bring lots of flavour to the dish.
The last item we got was the Zest Roll. They have quite a few different rolls, but we decided on the one that had the restaurant’s name since it should usually be their signature roll. However, I wasn’t too fond of it. It was filled with albacore tuna, sockeye salmon, grilled salmon skin, organic green cucumber, and tobiko. I think it was the grilled salmon skin that I didn’t like. It was too salty and brought a fishy taste to the roll overall.
Sake and Raisins, Black Sesame, Matcha
We ended our meal with two desserts. First was the Ice Cream Trio. This is a must try! The Sake and Raisins was my absolute favourite. Who knew sake and raisins would go so well together. Plus, the ice cream had a good amount of sake flavour without it tasting like straight alcohol. The black sesame and match were quite typical and nothing too special. Their ice cream overall is quite smooth and tastes like they use natural ingredients to make.
The second dessert was the Matcha Tiramisu. Visually appealing with a splash of colour from the strawberries and raspberries. Extremely smooth and just the right amount of cake. Loved the matcha flavour as well. Really good!
Overall, Zest had its hit and misses, but the meal was pretty good overall. I would definitely come back to try some of their other dishes. It’s a good take on modern Japanese cuisine yet it isn’t those typical fusion rolls. Service was also impeccable. Our server checked up on us and I liked how each dish came out one by one but without too much of a wait in between. They also change your plate after every dish. Very attentive!