Blossom Dim Sum + Grill – The Middle is a Hard Place to Be

Blossom is a new restaurant.  The day we had dinner there, they were still in their soft launch phase.  The restaurant’s theme is “East Meets West” with a variety of modern takes on Chinese and Japanese dishes.  There is sushi and dim sum on the menu for example.

For me, I believe that the best restaurants are either producing one thing very well at a very high level or producing one thing very well at a very low level.  I like both.

Let me explain.  Mcdonalds is an example of the second case.  Their burgers are obviously not gourmet, but they never claim to be.  They taste great.  The bread is good.  They are good at producing great tasting burgers, but at a low level.  Once in a while, a meal at Mcdonalds IS satisfying.  The price is low and the food is good (nutritious and good are two entirely different things, and not the point of this post; my focus is solely on the pleasure aspects of the food).

At the other end of the spectrum, you have a place like Minetta Tavern in NYC.  Their black label burger is the epitome of burger luxury.  Four different cuts of Prime beef, ground and blended to perfect portions.  There is a tremendous amount of detail going into the aging of the beef, the type of bread used, the marbling etc etc, all to produce a high end burger.  Needless to say, it too is satisfying, and you pay a high price.  As of the time of writing this, $33.

In the middle, you have places that will charge you somewhere in between for a vastly inferior product.  Maybe the patty is frozen and comes from a mass market distributor.  Whatever the case, I would rather have the Mcdonalds, or obviously, the Minetta burger, than this middle of the road product.

To me, this is where Blossom sits.  In the middle of the road.  Lets start with the blue fin crudo.  It was topped with some sort of acidic sauce which I believe was ponzu.  It completely overpowered the fish.  Of course, fish and acidity are a good combo, but when you have a delicious cut of fish like a blue fin tuna, I believe the taste and fattiness of the tuna should shine.  In this case, all I tasted was the sauce.

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The next dish we tried was the Foie Gras rice bowl.  We actually wanted the Uni pasta, but it was unavailable.  This dish was not bad.  I would of preferred an Asian rice (I believe they were using par boil rice), but the dish was ok.  The best rice and foie gras combination is at Tetsu Sushi Bar in Vancouver, and this is my reference point for eating foie gras and rice.  At Tetsu, it comes as nigiri, and it is one of the top ten best things I have ever tasted.  I was hoping this bowl would be representative of the nigiri at Tetsu.

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Against my better judgement, I ordered a few “funny” or non-traditional sushi rolls.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like “utility” and “fusion” sushi  (you can’t always be having hundred $ traditional omakase AND see my discussion above RE: Mcdonalds), but this version was just not done well.  For an example of fusion sushi done well, there are places like Miku or Minami in Vancouver.  For traditional omakase sushi, there are places like Bar Maumi and  Tetsu.  There are also hundreds of other places you can go for utility sushi in the city that doesn’t try to be anything but.  We ordered the spicy blue fin tuna roll and unagi roll.

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Here was the problem with the rolls.  As with the crudo, blue fin is delicious on its own.  It doesn’t need spicy sauce.  I also think its not treating the ingredient right to serve in this manner.  Its like mixing Coke with Bordeaux.  I could not taste any of the blue fin.  Unagi and Unagi sauce is delicious, but I could not taste either in the unagi roll.  This is a case where I would of rather had a lowly California roll at a low key place.  Also, the most important part of sushi is the rice.  This rice lacked seasoning.

The next two things were tried were baos.  We had the pork belly and Peking duck ones.  The flavor was not bad.  Here were the problems:

  1. Squid ink bao – unnecessary; stick to a plain bao
  2. Huge portion – the bao’s were at least double the normal size so the meat to bread ratio was off; there was also too much filling (see the two huge slices of cucumber below)

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For beverages, I was happy to see that they were serving a lambrusco by the glass.  Having just come back from Emilia-Romagna, I was worried I would have trouble finding it in Vancouver.

The servers were friendly and attentive though a bit inexperienced.  This is to be expected in a new place.  I think that this place should get out of the middle.   I believe they should focus on doing a few items very well at a very high level.  Before going there for dinner, I looked at the menu and was excited.  Seeing things like foie gras, uni, and blue fin on a menu indicates great potential.   However, they need to work on the dishes and focus more.  Vancouver have some of the best dim sum in the world from low end to high.  For sushi, Vancouver has a lot of low end and a few high end spots.  For a place that is in the middle, I believe Blossom is going to have a hard time competing against either end.  My son gave it a 5/10 I would rate this place 6/10.

 

 

 

 

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