You might miss the subdued signage tucked neatly beside the loud signage next door of gyro wraps and blinking corner store signage.
Step inside the Sushi Jin and you will see Chef Jin hard at work preparing for dinner service. Sushi Jin is only open for dinner service, given the family-run shop both does not have the staff for it and also the amount of preparation time required only allows for dinner guests from 5PM.
Chef Jin and his apprentice are carefully storing the sashimi, marinating the salmon roe, carving up a large tuna head, pickling their own ginger and even baking their own desserts(!) You can expect that every dish you experience at Sushi Jin is made with heart and attentive care.
Chef Jin is proud of the fresh ingredients he curates from around the world, and allows us to peek behind the counter to view the vibrant colours of everything from the fresh ebi, uni, to the New Zealand salmon. The colours of all the ingredients are bright and the texture is firm, indicators of the high quality of ingredients Chef Jin insists on serving his customers.
In fact, serving fresh ingredients is a habit Chef Jin has honed over his decade-plus experience in the industry, first training for ten years in Sydney, Australia as a Sushi Chef, and then opening his own Japanese restaurant in Korea with his wife, where he would frequent the fish market every day at 4am to handpick the freshest seafood. In his ‘spare time’, Chef Jin has also earned a French cuisine diploma at world-renowned culinary institution Le Cordon Bleu.
Two years ago the couple visited Vancouver on vacation and fell in love with the city; the husband wife team decided to move here and opened Sushi Jin. The restaurant is a collaboration, where Chef Jin’s wife has taken care of all the design elements, adding character and coziness to the space, and Chef Jin focuses on serving up some of the best Japanese cuisine you will taste in Vancouver.
Chef Jin shared his notes with us on how he selects his fish, and a chat with him will quickly reveal that he does not take the easy way out. The majority of his fish is sourced the famous Tsukiji Market in Osaka, while he looks to New Zealand for salmon and tuna from Mexico (sometimes Japan). He shares that the he finds New Zealand salmon delivers the most consistent quality, with a firm yet buttery texture unlike that of Atlantic salmon, where quality fluctuates; he aims to deliver consistent, high-quality experiences for his customers and we applaud him for this dedication.
The fish is freshly and neatly packed into boxes in the refrigerator, and Chef Jin gingerly handles the fish, skinning the Saiyori in front of us to add to the sashimi platter. For the Shime Saba, he uses a small tweezer to delicately remove the small bones in the fish. Observing the creation of a Japanese dish is like watching a work of art come to life; we watch as Chef Jin took out small edible flowers from Japan to place them on the platter, along with thin strands of small purple flowers.
A plethora of delicious gems are found in this sashimi platter.
There is salmon, tuna, shime aji, kampachi (Chef Jin prefers this to hamachi again because of the consistency and superior texture of the fish), ikura, shime saba, uni, hirame and saiyori. This is definitely an indulgent dinner for sashimi lovers.
As Chef Jin had mentioned, the New Zealand salmon is firm, sweet and fresh with consistent texture in every bite. For those who love fatty fish, the toro sashimi will not disappoint. For those who love oily fish, you will ask for second servings of the shime saba.
Though the sashimi is amazingly fresh and tasty, what really caught our attention was the small cup of fish roe. The reason? It is void of any of the fish smell usually associated with fish roe. We inquired with Chef Jin to ask how he had managed to achieve this, and he says that he spends four hours making the fish roe. The fish roe comes in the original membrane, and he must carefully remove each one from the attached membrane and clean every single one. Following this laborious process he brines the roe, marinates it in sake, mirin and soy sauce. At the mention of sake, we realized that was the ingredient that got rid of the fish smell. While most chefs will pair fish roe with sushi rice to let the vinegar tone down some of the fish smell, you can eat Chef Jin’s specialty fish roe without rice - it tastes so good you will not be able to stop at a few.
Just when we thought we were done, Chef Jin announced that we would also be trying the Blue Fin Tuna Trio and an assortment of nigiri sushi. The Blue Fin Tuna Trio comes with Akami (red tuna), chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) and o-toro (the fattiest part of the fish and the most delicious!)
Needless to say the toro all melt in your mouth, a medley of the light vinegar in the sushi rice and the buttery fat of the fish. Make sure to ask Chef Jin for the toro neck, because while most diners will request the otoro for the fattiest option available, the toro neck offers the best mix of texture and fat for a next level taste.
We completed our meal with an extra-special treat, a chocolate cake with sour cream and maple syrup icing; of course, it was made in-house by the talented Chef Jin. Light yet moist, the maple syrup icing is the best finishing touch to complement the chocolate cake.
Sushi Jin is the perfect hideaway for a quiet date night. A hidden gem many have yet to discover serving up some of the city’s best sashimi and sushi, all thoughtfully and attentively prepared by Chef Jin. Listen to his stories of how to select the best fish by grabbing a seat in front of his sushi counter, you will leave with both a delightful culinary experience and an improved knowledge of how to enjoy your sushi!
750 Nelson St, Vancouver, BC