Six years ago today I passed the threshold of what was once upon a time Umberto Menghi’s dark, sophisticated Circolo restaurant at 1118 Mainland Street in Yaletown. Most probably knew it better as Bud Kanke’s glitterati-magnet, Goldfish Pacific Kitchen (later Goldfish Seafood & Chops), but on this day I was being introduced to its newest occupant, the one that has so far stood the test of time in a neighbourhood that loves chewing up and spitting out newcomers.
The address would soon see the launch of Minami, spiritual cousin to Japanese restaurateur Seigo Nakamura’s Miku, which had already helped locally popularize the lightly torched ‘aburi’ style of sushi. (Nakamura would also later give us Gyoza Bar on West Pender Street). Opening day was still some time in the future, but this was the day I got to see first-hand the work of famed muralist Hideki Kimura as it was being applied to the restaurant’s walls by the master and his team of assistants. There were several walls being painted simultaneously. The exacting task was monumental, and it was a cool thing to witness. Take a look…
My impressions and comments at the time…
The deep brown stain from the original wood floors has been sanded away to leave a nice raw glow, and many of the rear dining room walls and both private rooms are in the midst of a decorative once-over by Hideki Kimura, the acclaimed mural painter from Japan (he’s leading a team of artists from neighbouring Raw Canvas). The firm behind the newer aspects of the look (ie. the facets not inherited from Goldfish) is Vancouver’s own OMB (the same folks responsible for the clean lines of Obakki and Oru), so the end result will likely be modern looker worthy of a good gawk.
As far as the food is concerned, I’m told that we can expect more aburi sushi and plenty of dishes that Miku fans will recognize, as well as a noticeable shift towards more “hot” items. The bar program has been designed by former Bartender of the Year Shaun Layton of L’Abattoir, with the sake element being looked after by Miki Ellis of Hapa Izakaya fame (a certified sake expert).
We turn to the official gallery to see how it all turned out.
If you haven’t been to Minami yet, sitting at the bar with a cold glass of Sapporo and a flame-seared pressed prawn lit with lime zest and ume sauce is a good place to start before moving to the leafy, partially hidden patio oasis in the back for a proper dinner and some prime Yaletown people-watching.