Monday, November 29, 2010

District Modern Japanese Bistro

District is a "Modern Japanese Bistro" on Queen Street East. What do these three words, when put together, mean anyway? That was what I was wondering before going to District. I have never seen the words "Modern" + "Japanese" + "Bistro" in the same sentence. 

From District's website:

"DISTRICT blends sleek and sexy design with modern and authentic Japanese cuisine.  The result is a tempting and tantalizing fusion of sophistication and flavour in an elegant yet intimate lounge like setting."

OK. That sentence does not clarify anything for me as I was still confused after reading it. So many fancy words jumbled up together. I was particularly perplexed about the restaurant being  "modern" AND "authentic" but ALSO "fusion" O_o

Although I sound pretty weary of District, I'm gonna let you know, right of the bat, that I was pleasantly surprised by their quality of food, presentation, and decor. However, I still can't say I totally agree on the "authentic" part - not that I'm a Japanese food connoisseur or anything, but I'm pretty sure that some of the items I ordered that night were not "authentic" Japanese dishes but were more so "fusion".

I got to District at 5:30pm and was the first customer there. Actually, the entire Riverside area was very quiet. 

There's absolutely no indication whatsoever that District is a Japanese restaurant (or forgive me, "Bistro") by its decor. Nothing at all screams "Japanese" to me. The restaurant was very narrow; what you see is what you get, basically a row of tables on the left and a big bar on the right. The bar is very beautiful with the wood and mirror on the wall. The blue lighting beneath the bar is also pretty neat. 

I got to pick where to sit so I picked a booth by the window. I tried sitting at the end booth there but a breeze was seeping in through the window cracks.

From its website: "DISTRICT's tapas style menu, designed for sharing, is a balanced synthesis of modern and traditional influences." So sharing it is.

Usually see olive oil / vinegar in these things, but at District it's soya sauce.

Softshell Crab - Whale-sized deep fried softshell crab, ponzu sauce.

Not sure what's the deal with the "whale-sized" description haha but all I can say is that the softshell crab wasn't small nor huge. Nevertheless, I thought it was cool how it was presented in the shape of a crab instead of just wherever. This appetizer was delicious in that the batter was think and crispy. The crab was also quite meaty.

Spicy Sashimi Salad - Spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail, scallop, greens, radish, tomato, avocado. Very delicious. The dressing was tangy, the greens were fresh, the sashimi was thick and plentiful.

Tuna Tuna - Tuna, avocado, cucumber topped with tuna + spicy mayo. Lovely presentation although I noticed that the same orange sauce was used in the Softshell Crab already.

Each piece was tightly rolled and  If you like the orange sauce it's all good but if you're indifferent about it (like me) I wish they use less of it. Yeah, I know it makes the dish very colorful and all but I thought it was a bit excessive.

Crunchy Lime Salmon – Crushed wasabi peas, lime, salmon edamame purée, fresh mixed greens, onion rings. The coolest dish of the night; the green "mush" that is hidden underneath the salmon looks like mashed potatoes but is actually edamame purée. The salmon was encrusted with crushed wasabi peas so it was crunchy and a bit spicy. The onion rings were fried with tempura batter and were not oily at all. Mixed greens as a side salad was a nice touch to the other heavy components of this dish. 

Whether or not District is "modern", "authentic", "fusion", or whatever, it really didn't matter to me because I had a great meal there. The salmon was the most unique dish that night and it was certainly not a main course that you would find at your average Japanese restaurant. The only thing that I would point out, again, is District's tendency to repeat ingredients such as the orange sauce and ...sesame seeds! Sesame seeds were everywhere =D

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