Octopus Vinaigrette at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa
Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa has since been replaced by Sushi Village for some time now, but, before it closed for good, I ate there a fair number of times. Most of the dishes were pretty decent (if not always very well plated or presented), but a few were rather dismal failures. The Octopus Vinaigrette you see pictured above was one of these.
The dish consisted of cooked Octopus Tentacle sliced more or less Sashimi style, laid over a bed of shredded Daikon, dressed with a Vinaigrette, and garnished with Tobiko (Flying-fish Roe), and shredded Scallion Green. As was fairly common at Ken’s, it was not terribly well-presented, although, in this case, much of the problem came from the choice of plate, which pretty much inevitably resulted in the Vinaigrette slopping about all over the place between the kitchen and my table.
The Tobiko, rather uncommonly, had a nice sweet taste rather than being the usual mostly tasteless garnish, and the shredded Daikon was well cut and nicely crisp, if otherwise unremarkable. The Vinaigrette, which was designed to be the ‘character’ for the dish, was Rice Vinegar based, had just a touch of Soy Sauce added, along with a dash of Sesame Oil, and, I am fairly sure, a faint touch of chili heat (perhaps from a whole dried chili or two being steeped in the vinegar before use). It was actually a very nice dressing in and of itself, but it was, unfortunately, the wrong choice for this particular dish.
The problem with Ken’s Octopus Vinaigrette was that the Vinaigrette, though no doubt excellent in other contexts, was far too strong for the Octopus. This may have been less of a problem with thicker slices of the tentacle, but these ones were so thin as to be almost transparent in places, and the dressing didn’t merely dominate the Octopus, it obliterated it. I love the sweet, very delicate, lobster-like flavor of properly prepared Octopus, but here, the dish was effectively ruined by the fact that all that remained to be tasted was the dressing itself. Clearly, this amounts to a fail.