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Jun I Mini-Review

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Needed a Japanese restaurant on short notice tonight, I took a few friends from out of town to Jun I, on Laurier. While I haven't been before, everything I've read (here and otherwise) suggested that it was a safe bet, and would be adequate. In some ways it was, and in some ways it...wasn't.

To start, I asked the server for an assortment of sushi for the table, and let him deal with the details. This resulted in starting with a dynamite roll (with crab and rice crispies, topped with eel) which was fantastic - light yet complex flavoring, well-put together, fresh as can be. This was follow by a nice assortment of sushi and sashimi, including BC Salmon, Arctic Char (interspersed with delicately thin limes), and a novel presentation of a shrimp-filo inside-out maki. By no means traditional, but very well executed.

The meal, alas, went down from there. As an app I had the beef tartar (their spelling, not mine) which lacked any real beef flavor. It had the right consistency - and included a half-shell quail egg on top to be mixed in - but seems like it had too much mixed into it, and hid the distinct beef flavor central to the dish.

For my main, I had the venison tournedos - I should have been skeptical as this is in no way Japanese, but alas. The venison itself was fine - no real outstanding taste, but adequate. Interesting use of a chestnut cream sauce as a decoration/vegetable sauce, though. One of my companions had the Black Cod, which was cooked (again, far from traditionally) in a light curry-tasting sauce. Markedly different from Nobu's famous preparation of the same dish (which I had at the London Nobu and didn't especially like), but a very interesting and tasty twist on the fish. In retrospect, I wish I had ordered this.

Curiously, the mains were presented with bread on the sides in little fishing baskets; after placing them on the table, the waiter clearly announced them as “One piece of bread each.” With that much presentation and thought – not to mention timing – you’d think these would be in some way remarkable pieces of bread; as far as we were able to tell, however, they seemed to be genetic white baps, cut in half and placed two to a basket, likely purchased from the nearby Provigo.

Dessert was a moelleux chocolate cake with some type of ice cream (billed as something out of the ordinary, but tasting pretty generic), with Cointreau poured on it at tableside. This was pretty bad, with the "cake" ending up being akin to a brownie, and a pretty tasteless one at that.

All-in, I’d go back, but I would stick to the sushi bar – which, had I had more time to consider the menu, should have been a pretty obvious conclusion based on the high levels of non-Japanese dishes on the main menu. Service was decent (with a hearty “Masai-Masay!” from the sushi staff upon entering), and the décor was interesting.

Four people – three courses each, plus a sushi assortment to start and two bottles of decent sake – came to $380 incl. tax, excl. tip.

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