Thursday, November 25, 2010

HM: All New!

Quick update from Sanbiki and sister store Mori Mori!

NEW!!Gyudon for lunch! Canadian AAA beef sliced thin and sauteed with onions and Chef Koji's secret sauce. Alright the sauce isn't a particularly well guarded secret but it is home made and delicious. And at $7 (including tea!) it's probably cheaper than eating at home and a hell of a lot easier than cooking it yourself....

Healthy snacks for the Holiday Party Season! Sushi platters made fresh to order. Starting at $25.95 for a 40 piece platter we will provide you with something far more interesting than the standard Costco cheese platter! Lets face it, we all serve them (often as a last resort!) and we are all sick of them by the second week in December. Do something different! Discounts available for pre orders! Call Sanbiki for details...377 8857....
Office party? Family get together over the holidays? Save time and money by booking your function at Sanbiki. Private dining area can accomodate up to 30 people. Communal table for family style dining. For the holiday season we are offering our famous $10 Bento boxes for lunch and dinner parties! Preorder necessary for dinner parties, and minimum 4 guests. Bentos always available for everyone at lunch time!

Christmas is COMING! Gift ideas available at Mori Mori (next to Sanbiki at 467 Lansdowne, right across from Dollarama) We went on a shopping spree in Vancouver and picked up Japanese and Asian dishware, cooking utensils, bamboo steamers, rice cookers and LOTS more! Come down and check out some of our reasonably priced tea and sake sets or pick up Pocky and Japanese sweets for unique stocking stuffers.

Sushi making supplies

Cute gifts ideas!

.................and much more!!

Stay tuned for next week's news!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SAKE= "Rice wine"?

It's "Nippon-shu" in Japan, but the rest of the world knows it as "sake". English speakers frequently refer to it as rice wine, although it is made in a process perhaps more like brewing beer than making wine.
Most of us Canadians like it served piping hot, preferably sipped from tiny ceramic cups to keep it warm. It's better now than it once was, but the selection of sake available at your local liquor shop is limited at best. You'll be lucky if you can find anything other than a few low end brands. Find a premium "cold-serve" sake and you'll pay dearly for the privlege.

The Japanese however, are spoiled silly when it comes to sake. And they pay considerably less for their sake given the system of taxation in Canada. It's estimated there are more than 10,000 different kinds of sake in Japan! Some are served warm, some room temperature, others are chilled. A sommelier could find ten ways to serve a hundred fine French wines; so too is the situation with a "sake-snob". Everything from the shape of the glass to the PH of the water used in the brewing process is hotly debated. How much the rice has been polished is very important. Polishing the rice removes the outer layers that are believed to negatively affect the flavour of a sake.
The Japanese have been making sake for thousands of years. Like beer, sake must first convert starch to sugar in order for it to develop that alcoholic kick we all know and love. Wine is a simpler fermentation process (chemically anyway!) as the fruit already contains sugars that are ready to be gobbled up by the yeast, producing the beloved booze and some CO2 to boot.
Basically, sake is made from special rice which has been polished, soaked and steamed. Koji (a type of black mold) is added to the rice and then a yeast starter. Over a few weeks more rice, water and koji is added, creating a "rice mash" known as "moromi" in Japanese. The "Toji", or head sake maker then decides when the moromi is ready to be pressed, filtered and blended. Most sake is pasteurized to "deactivate" enzymes which may change the flavour and colour of the sake later. Pasteurizing the sake improves the stability and shelf life of the sake.

Not all sake is pasteurized. Granville Island based sake maker Masa Shiroki produces unfiltered, unpasteurized sake in small batches. Sake of this kind is fruity and delicate, but must be refrigerated to preserve it's quality. It is not served warm. Like most sake it does not get better with aging. Usually it is recommended that sake be drunk within a year of being made. Decent sake will almost always have a production and/or expiry date.

"Grading" Japanese sake is complicated to say the least. The kind of rice used, the degree of polishing, and whether or not distilled alcohol is added to the sake are a few of the factors to consider.
At Sanbiki, we find most guests prefer warm sake. However we do have premium chilled sakes available and they are starting to catch on. Customers are liking our "Granville Island Sake Sampler" Similar to a wine "flight" with a few different sips of different wines, guests have opportunity to sample 3 different kinds of sake for only $8. Each 1 oz sample includes tasting notes by Granville Island Artisan Sake Maker Masa Shiroki. Melon, citrus and even hints of licorice can be tasted and smelled when you're pointed in the right direction
Warm or cold, we've got a great selection of sake and other alcoholic beverages for you to try. Sorrento-based Crannog Ales supplies us with organic, seasonal ales made by hand and left unpasteurized and unfiltered. The draft ales come in "partypigs"; self contained reusable containers that mean no empties to recycle! And they have a great website to boot! More info on Granville Island sake @
Thanks to Masa Shiroki, Crannog Ales, Steamy Kitchen and Where for photos. More news next week...bundle up kids, its getting cold...stay tuned for "Nabemono"...Japanese style hot pot, perfect winter comfort food!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HM:Chefs in the City

My throat is raw and I can barely talk. I was so wired Monday night, I didn't sleep until 2am. All good signs....another successful Chefs in the City!
This was the third year The Rotary Club has organized the event, held this year November 1st at The Columbo Hall. More than 15 restaurants, wineries and breweries took part in the event with the proceeds going to charity. Initiatives locally and around the world are funded by Rotary that aim to eradicate poverty and disease, provide education, job training and promote peace. Sounds serious...but they know how to throw a great party too!

This was the second year Sanbiki has taken part in the event. Masato and I had Kishino to help us set up, serve and socialize. Last year we really didn't know what to expect. Predictably, we ended up swamped when 300+ hungry guests converged on our tiny table. This year felt better. The chaos was semi-organized, and while we ran out of sushi early (again!) we had Kishino's homemade dessert to compensate. Fluffy cream cheese mousse with blueberry compote and shortbread cookie crumble. Yum. Almost enough to forgive and forget our sushi shortage...
California and dynamite rolls are best-sellers at the restaurant and proved to be popular with the crowd at Chefs in the City. A few guests were disappointed that there was none of the raw stuff. With limited refrigeration and space we didn't want to take a chance and serve something that was not up to "Sanbiki Standards". Veggie options were somewhat limited at the event, so vegetarian diners were pleased that we had vegan sushi rolls on hand.

Chicken "Karaage" sounds fancy but it's basically a Japanese chicken wing. Corn starch and seasoning in the batter make it extra crunchy and flavourful. Keeping Sanbiki's oil clean and hot ensures that deep fried items are crispy, never greasy. Karaage is a great finger food and a perfect dish for Chefs in the City. Seating and table space are virtually non-existant; people are there to sip wine, sample new foods and socialize. The karaage was a hit. More than 100 peices in under 2 hours. But you have to admit it is a little bit "safe"...
So we had decided earlier some experimentation was in order. We wanted to try a recipe that people would not have tried, but nothing too off the wall. We find that Sanbiki's guests are usually willing to try new dishes, but it makes it easier if they recognize some of the ingredients or cooking techniques. For example a smoked salmon sushi roll is a good place for a fledgling sushi- eater to start. You may have no idea what sushi is all about but it's pretty hard to screw up smoked salmon.
So Kishino worked out a recipe for a wonderful winter soup. I gave up trying to give guests a long-winded, flowery description and settled on calling it "Japanese style chicken noodle soup". As the evening went on and my voice went away, I managed a barely audible "soup...good". But that hardly does her dish justice.
She started out with happodashi, a homemade Japanese stock made from dried fish, konbu (kelp), light soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. It's full of "umami"; flavourful and delicious. To the happodashi she added mushroom and chicken broth. It was important that the broth be kept separated from the other ingredients so the flavours could be tasted separately and so certain ingredients did not lose their crispy texture. But we had to keep it easy to serve and more importantly easy for guests to eat!
We decided to serve the soup in small disposable cups. We prepped all the solid ingredients; chunks of cooked chicken, King Trumpet mushrooms, yam noodles, cooked burdock and carrot, and seaweed. Just before serving we placed these components into a cup.
As guests approached the table, Kishino would ladle the piping hot broth from a pot and top the cup off, finishing the soup with a drop of fragrant sesame oil and fresh green onion. The smell of the hot soup and the autumn colours (orange carrot; dark brown burdock) drew more diners to our table.
Now we continue to ponder new weird and wonderful ways to showcase seasonal ingredients in our dishes at the restaurant. The weather is growing cooler and we are seeing the sushi orders slide slightly. At the same time we are scrambling to find enough bowls to serve our customers tempura and chicken udon. What could make winter in BC better than a big bowl of steaming soup chock full of noodles, veggies and chicken or tempura. Does it get any better? You tell us! We are always open to suggestions.

Recently...customers ask for Ramen, Beef donburi, and more varied lunch specials...GYUDON (Big beef rice bowl coming soon....)