Gyuniku Maki at Ken's
Gyuniku Maki at Ken’s

Gyuniku Maki at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa

I have mentioned the now defunct Ken’s Japanese Restaurant a number of times in other posts. Back when it was open, it was a pretty decent place to eat down in Ottawa’s Byward Market. It wasn’t a high-end place, and sometimes you might get served a dish that wasn’t the best, but mostly the food was pretty good. The Gyuniku Maki, or Beef Rolls, you see pictured above pretty much encapsulate the overall dining experience at Ken’s insofar as they were a bit flawed, but otherwise enjoyable.

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Chinese BBQ at Gain Wah

Chinese BBQ at Gain Wah Restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown

If you are lucky enough to have a Chinatown, or sizeable Chinese population, in your community, you may have establishments displaying and serving classic Cantonese style 燒烤, or Chinese BBQ. Here, in the windows of such places, you will see whole golden Roast Duck and large, crispy chunks of Roast Pork hanging from hooks. In Vancouver’s Chinatown, Gain Wah is a Cantonese Restaurant with a full and varied menu featuring all sorts of delicious items, but it also does a number of Chinese BBQ specialties, especially Duck and Roast Pork, that are truly delicious

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Crab Cakes at Vineyards
Crab Cakes at Vineyards

Crab Cakes at Vineyards

When I was a kid, I disliked Fish Cakes and Crab Cakes, even though I liked both those types of seafood prepared in other ways. When I got older, I tried Crab Cakes again and found I now enjoyed them (although I still don’t care for Fish Cakes all that much). I also began to get interested in the different styles and methods of making them, and I first began keeping notes on my experiences when I was served with the ones pictured above at Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro, one of my favorite restaurants in Ottawa’s Byward Market. These ones were not as good as many I have had since, in all honesty, but I still enjoyed them well enough.

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Octopus Sashimi at Kiko Sushi

Octopus Sashimi at Kiko Sushi in Ottawa

Kiko Sushi is a very nice Japanese Restaurant, situated, somewhat incongruously, in Ottawa’s Little Italy District. It is a little out of the way from where I usually stay when I am visiting the City, and, for that reason, I have only visited it once so far. All the dishes I was served, however, including the Octopus Sashimi shown above, were very nice, and made the place worth noting as somewhere to visit again.

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Octopus Grilled at Spiga
Octopus Grilled at Spiga

Octopus Grilled at Spiga

Back in the day, the Spiga Café specialized in Portuguese cuisine down in the fashionable Byward Market area of Ottawa. I had some excellent dishes there, including the Grilled Octopus appetizer you see pictured above, and I was sorry I was unable to work my way through their menu before they closed their doors for good. Everything I ate there was not only delicious, it was, I thought, always very skillfully and artistically presented.


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Octopus Sashimi at Ken's
Octopus Sashimi at Ken’s

Octopus Sashimi at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa

Most people think of Sashimi is being raw fish. Much of it is, of course, but there are varieties using shellfish, and even non-marine products, and some items are served cooked. Octopus is one of these, and it happens to be one of my favorites. Accordingly, I tend to make it part of my order on most visits to Japanese Restaurants.

The small Octopus Sashimi plate shown above was served to me at the now defunct Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa (it has since been replaced by a different Japanese Restaurant). Ken’s was not a high-end, Kaiseki sort of place, and I rather think that Is well illustrated by the plating job, which, I have to say, is pedestrian at best.


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Octopus Grilled at Mystiko
Octopus Grilled at Mystiko

Octopus Grilled at Mystiko

Octopus is a great favourite in Greek cuisine, and the Greeks are true masters at preparing it on the grill. The Mezze dish of Octopus Grilled shown above was served to me at the Mystiko Greek restaurant in Ottawa’s Centertown district and was the star offering in a really splendid meal.

The menu described the Octopus as being marinated, but I really wasn’t able to taste any particular flavoring beyond the added dressing. Possibly, some lightly acidic marinade without any additions was used to tenderize the flesh of the octopus after simmering it, but I couldn’t t detect that in taste or texture either.


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Ankimo aka Monkfish Liver
Ankimo aka Monkfish Liver

Ankimo, or Monkfish Liver, is a delicacy in Japanese cuisine and I was served this particular appetizer at the now defunct Wasabi Restaurant in Ottawa not long before it closed. Monkfish, for those unfamiliar, is quite possibly the ugliest fish in the sea, but it has delicious firm flesh, and the liver is tasty in its own right too. It has been likened to Foie Gras (and was referred to as ‘Monkfish Foie’ Gras on the menu at Wasabi), but I rather think that just reflects the quality of the texture. Monkfish liver is quite low in fat, in contrast to real Foie Gras, and I am not sure how they would go about force-feeding Monkfish the same way they do Ducks, anyway.


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Tatoyaki at Wasabi in Ottawa
Tatoyaki at Wasabi in Ottawa

Tatoyaki at Wasabi

Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant down in Ottawa’s Byward Market, was a terrific restaurant back in its day and I was saddened when it finally closed its doors. The chefs there could be very inventive and produced some uniquely interesting and delightful dishes over the years.

Sometimes, though, the culinary attempts at creativity that came out of the kitchen were just a teensy bit misguided and the results ended up being flops of monumental proportions. The Tatoyaki dish you see pictured above was, I regret to tell you, very much one of their more epic fails…


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Octopus Steamed alla Parmentara
Octopus Steamed alla Parmentara

Octopus Steamed alla Parmentara

I had this dish served to me at the now defunct Empire Grill in Ottawa’s Byward Market some time ago. I am not sure what the Parmentara signifies (and a google search reveals nothing of note), but steamed octopus is not a common restaurant offering and I couldn’t resist giving it a try. It was an interesting dish, in conception at least, but the execution left a little to be desired.


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