Jason Zhang has run Take Sushi at 4528
Hastings St. for the past six years, but even his regulars don't want word to get out on just how good the sushi bar is.
"This is our little secret," said one diner as Zhang sat down for an interview. "We love this place, and it's one of the best in the city."
Hard to argue with that sentiment, as the restaurant was almost filled to capacity during a recent weekday.
Zhang took over the restaurant in 2006 and immediately put his stamp on the place.
"I wanted everything as fresh as possible," said Zhang. "That means I have multiple suppliers and since I'm the chef, I don't serve anything that I wouldn't eat myself."
We start with the Sunshine roll, which features a refreshing mango slice on top of each flavour-filled smoked salmon roll. The end pieces have a tasty prawn that is crunchy and a taste treat.
The Sunshine roll is a perfect complement to our sashimi platter, which features some of Zhang's fresh fish selections. No platter is the same - freshness and in-stock product being the deciding factors - but on our platter were some favourites like tuna and salmon, along with a great in-season black porgy whitefish that was silky smooth.
Zhang's artistry is on full display with our next two dishes, the seared tuna tataki nigiri, which was lightly seared on the outside and went perfectly with the grated radish topping; and the Take Roll, which features unagi (eel), smoked salmon, avocado, lemon and a special house sauce.
Zhang's flair for combining flavours is even more pronounced when we try the tuna and mango salad. This savoury hit includes a sweet and tangy dressing and was so good that I nominated it as our dish of the night.
Zhang shows off his cooking flair with the tara miso, or cooked black cod, which is as light a cooked fish as I can remember anywhere. The cod is lightly seared and a great appetizer or main course.
Next up is the beef short ribs, which are oozing with flavour. A great finger food, it seems like all of Zhang's dishes are must-eats, meaning loyal customers can have something different each time they come to Take.
Last up is the prawn tempura, which is so flaky that the batter seems to flutter in the air with each flavourful bite.
"I want to keep on making new dishes and putting out items that are different and ones you won't find anywhere else," said Zhang.
"My customers want something different, and that's part of my job."
Take Sushi is located at 4528 East Hastings St. with parking at the rear. It's open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11: 30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 9: 30 p.m. For info or reservations, call 604-291-7241.