Neighbourhood: Osborne Village
Address: 159 Osborne St.
Phone: (204) 888-0028
When curry mingles with tempura, and sushi is topped with buttery shrimp scampi, you’ve entered Japanese fusion food territory, which is the specialty at Naru Sushi. Nestled in the centre of Osborne Village, this 50-seat mod Japanese joint was opened in November, 2008.
The kitchen serves up some traditional fare, but its global takes on Japanese cuisine and inspiring presentation shine.
Animated Korean conversation can be heard from the chefs lined up at the central sushi bar on the second level, while young, trendy 20- and 30-somethings chit chat in English casually over cups of warm green rice tea on the main floor. Diners can pull up a chair under chic paper lantern lighting or sit along a cushy black booth lining one cranberry-red wall.
Influences from around the globe are found throughout the menu. For starters, American southern fried chicken meets its Japanese match in the chicken karaage appetizer. Juicy morsels of white and dark meat are encased in peppery, crispy batter. Naru says sayonara to barbeque sauce by pairing ginger soy dip for subtle Asian flair. An Indian influence appears in two other deep-fried dishes adopted into Japanese cuisine in the late 19th century. The à la carte menu has curry tokkantsu—panko-breaded pork loin sliced into chopstick-friendly pieces. The result is a dark brown crust, much crispier than its Austrian schnitzel relatives. Swirl the meat in the thick, brown curry sauce heavily laced with cumin.
Tempura, an archetypal Japanese ingredient, actually has roots in Portuguese cuisine. It was introduced by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. The tempura menu features an unusual offering of chicken curry. The aromatic dish arrived with heavily crusted pieces of rich dark meat—not the bubbly, rice-flour tempura batter expected—and curry (used in tokkantsu) for dipping.
Italy is another source of inspiration found in the shrimp scampi roll and tai carpaccio salad. Plump shrimp glistening with garlic butter are served atop a roll of avocado, cucumber and crab meat. A sprinkle of Parmesan, tobiko and mayo swirls on the edge of the plate turn this dish into a decadent work of art. Tai fish—a red snapper in Japan coveted for its colour—replaces beef in carpaccio salad. The pink, yielding flesh is thinly sliced and layered underneath greens dressed in sweet vinaigrette. Carrot and beet curls, and horseradish dressing add hearty zip.
The kitchen clearly pays close detail to presentation, particularly in its sushi rolls. The kitchen’s creative moonbow tops rolls of cucumber, wasabi and tuna with crunchy bonito flakes, and deliciously indulgent pieces of fatty tuna. Garnishes of spicy sriracha sauce with green roe and creamy Japanese mayo with orange alternate on each piece, creating a striking colour palette that wows.
Naru Sushi is open Mon-Fri noon-3 pm, 5 pm-10 pm; Sat noon-11 pm; Sun noon-10 pm.