Foodology Disclaimer: We were approached by the owner of Kibo Restaurant & Lounge to preview a few dishes. Although the meal was complimentary, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own.
On July 26th, Foodology.ca was invited out to Yaletown along with Raymond, Sherman, Rick, Kevin, Janice, Romina and Grace to have dinner at Kibo Restaurant and Lounge. As a new addition to the Yaletown area, we were eager to see how Kibo intended to approach Japanese fusion cuisine and at what level of quality.
To start the meal off, we were served negitoro on thinly toasted pieces of bread. The fatty tuna with chopped green onion was fresh and went well with the toasted bread. A nice start to the meal.
The first main dish of the evening was the Kibo Sashimi Platter. Served on a bed of crushed ice with distinct sauces for each fish type, I found the cuts of sashimi quite fresh and inherently flavorful. As a bit of a sashimi purist however, I would have liked to see the actual sauces served separately but overall a pretty good offering.
The next two dishes that came together were the Kibo Salad and Beef Carpaccio. The salad was very fresh and quite sweet with a generous allotment of mango. Salad lovers will love the fresh greens which are complimented well by fresh cuts of tuna, salmon and creamy avocado. I felt the sauce was applied a little too liberally but wasn’t that bad in small portions.
The beef carpaccio was served with a cheese based, wasabi dressing that received mixed feelings from me. I enjoyed the subtle hit of the wasabi with each bite but the cheese component kind of threw me. The beef itself was sliced nicely and tasted wonderful but the sauce may have been better if it had been kept slightly more simple.
The chikuwa cheese dish looked amazing but ended up just tasting alright. The fish cake was quite tender but the actual batter was not as crispy as I would have liked. Again, the addition of cheese to this dish was slightly puzzling to me as it did not really strengthen the overall dish.
One of the most visually stunning dishes of the evening had to be the plate of Assorted Nigiri Sushi. Unfortunately, due to the large group I was in, I only got to taste 1/2 of one piece of nigiri so I cannot competently review this dish in its entirety. The 1/2 piece of tuna sushi I tried was nice but I will have to return to Kibo in the future to properly review this entire dish.
The next two hot kitchen items that followed the sushi plate were both very good. To be quite honest, you can rarely go wrong with short ribs and bacon wrapped ebi. The ribs were tender and very tasty and same for the shrimp skewers. The bacon itself was not that crispy but quite fatty which really infused the ebi with that smoky, bacon flavor. Overall, two very good kitchen items to order along with sushi.
To follow the above two meat dishes came 4 or 5 different specialty sushi rolls. These were intentionally ordered to showcase Kibo’s creativity with the traditional sushi format. First up was the Hamilton Roll which is basically a standard dynamite roll with slices of sashimi on top. I really like dynamite rolls and prawn tempura/sashimi in general so this roll was an easy favorite for me.
The next roll was the Volcano Roll which was probably the most visually/texturally unique roll of the evening. The fairly traditional roll was deep-fried and then sliced which cased the entire outer surface in a crispy, tempura type shell. The actual layer was not as crispy as I thought it would be but still a very interesting take on a sushi roll.
The third roll we tried was the Caterpillar Roll which again was basically a dynamite roll but with avocado and unagi on top. This roll definitely felt very luxurious with the creamy avocado and super tender unagi. I actually really liked this roll regardless of its bizarre name.
The fourth roll we tried was the Philadelphia Roll. As you may have guessed, this roll is named as such because it has cream cheese inside. For the sushi purists out there, this is definitely one of the more progressive fusion rolls out there. Similar to the salmon cream cheese roll at Kamei Royale, you will either love or hate this roll. I thought it was ok but generally I am not a fan of cheese in sushi.
The fifth and final roll of the night was the aptly named Mango Roll. Essentially a dynamite roll with mango, this roll was pleasantly sweet but the mango unfortunately made the rice a little bit soggy. An interesting roll but one I would not order again. Many of Kibo’s specialty rolls seem to simply be standard rolls with something on top which was a little disappointing to me. For a professed Japanese Fusion restaurant, I would have liked to see significantly more innovation in the menu.
At this point in the meal, there was a small lull in service so I actually thought the dinner was over. Amazingly enough, not only was the meal not over but there were 4 more dishes to be had! I was quite full at this point in the evening so this may have impacted my desire to eat further. That said, I really enjoyed the Grilled Sablefish and Kibo Beef dishes. The Sablefish was very tender and flaky and prepared very simply on a bed of vegetables. The beef was very moist and flavorful, infused with a great sauce. Unfortunately I found the Australian Rack of Lamb to be dry and generally unappetizing. We were all a little baffled why this was being served at Kibo as it didn’t seem very good or Asian in any way.
The last dish of the evening turned out to be one of the best dishes of the evening! Served in a traditional Japanese tea pot, the Kibo Seafood Dobin was a beautiful pure, clean broth infused with a variety of fish, mussels, clams etc. Somebody remarked that the broth would make for an amazing hot pot and I have to agree. Although I was only able to sample a small cup, the broth was simply amazing and refreshing. A fantastic end to a very long and generously endowed meal.
To wrap up with a few final thoughts, I was quite tough on Kibo in the above review but I genuinely did enjoy the experience. As the establishment is so new, I felt obligated to be brutally honest so that they can continue to refine their menu and get better as they find their identity in the Yaletown area. So close to the much heralded Aburi giant Minami, Kibo definitely has their work cut out for them even though their prices are markedly more affordable. I enjoyed many of the dishes I tried and can definitely see potential and room to improve in many others.
Words of Wisdom:
- For hot dishes, you can not go wrong with the short ribs and bacon wrapped ebi
- A large assortment of sushi rolls but many are hit and miss
- Seafood dobin is amazing and a must try!
We Rate Kibo Restaurant & Lounge:
1261 Hamilton St.
Vancouver, BC, Canada