Pushing the sushi envelope – Aisuru Sushi’s vegan offerings

I’d heard a lot of good things about Aisuru.  Its vegan and vegetarian sushi offerings for one.  Its entire menu being 100% freshly made to order the other.

Relishing the opportunity to meet the man behind the chopsticks, hubby and I shared a quick meal with Ken, the proprietor of Aisuru Sushi.

It is apparent Aisuru Sushi is not your average sushi restaurant.  Hi-tech touches include iPads to take orders, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for seamless communication and printing of receipts – all housed in a contemporary setting.  The Subiaco establishment is the newest kid on the Aisuru block, a large open space with a family-friendly feel.  And guess what peeps – you can actually making bookings here, unlike its Northbridge counterpart!  Cue mass hysteria and cheer from families, groups and function organisers.

We were walked through the menu and given a crash course in history simultaneously.  His passion, knowledge and enthusiasm are obvious.

Aisuru Subi

Aisuru Subi

8 Little Known Gems

  1. Ken personally trained as a chef in Sydney and Japan to get an intimate knowledge on the workings of a kitchen
  2. No chefs he interviewed knew how to fulfil his vision
  3. The California roll was the 1st fusion sushi roll.  Japanese migrated to the US in droves in search of better opportunities.  When these migrants arrived, they wanted Japanese food.  Salmon was very expensive at the time, and they sought an ingredient which mimicked the texture and consistency – avocado was the substitute
  4. There was joy when the disabled ramp he installed was actually used
  5. The Aisuru menu is 2 years of Ken’s time, perseverance, and dedication
  6. Aisuru offerings only came in 8 pieces, however customers consistently requested half rolls in order to sample more of their dishes
  7. An external consultant was brought on to advise on creating vegan and vegetarian dishes – what to use, what not to use, ingredient substitutions and flavours
  8. The vegan menu was accepted from Day 1 – and not just by vegans

Now what you’ve all been waiting for… the FOOD.

First off the bat, two very popular dishes:  The Crunchy Buddha’s Delight and Veganpillar.

Veganpillar

Veganpillar

The first had a satisfying crunch in every bite, combined with creamy avocado and flavoursome mushrooms.  I chose to have the Veganpillar with plum sauce.  You can also have it with the special mustard sauce.  All sauces are made in-house.

A sight for the eyes is the sensational Beets International.  Deep red beetroot, neon splashes of mustard sauce contrasted with the greens of cucumber, avocado and asparagus.

Beets International

Beets International

Now I love this name… Apple of Love.  Awww.. its actually seasoned and blow torched razor thin tomatoes layered on top of rolls filled with greens.  Why Apple of Love?  Well (another fun fact from Ken here!) when tomatoes first arrived in France, they did not know what it was.  They needed a name for it obviously.  Given their kinda-sorta shape similarity to apples, the French decided to call it the Apple of Love, because of its rouge colour.  So romantic.  So French.  Oui?

Apple of <3

Apple of ❤

Another favourite of customers on the menu is the Magic Mushroom.  No, it does not have any of “those” sorta magic mushrooms.  This G-rated version combines enoki and button mushrooms in the one roll.  This one was lower on the totem pole in terms of flavour.  Rather, the subtle natural flavour of the mushroom is allowed to shine through. 

At the insistence of Ken, we tried the Sweet Corn Tempura.  Literally corn straight off the cob.  Kinda like popcorn shrimp without the shrimp!  Hubby found it hard to stop picking at it, very Moorish and very easy to OD on.  Thank God we weren’t at home in front of the telly otherwise he would’ve polished off the whole plate.

Corn Tempura

Corn Tempura

Hubby just had to try the best-selling double-wrapped Plum flower roll.  Somewhat of a flagship dish at Aisuru, it’s chicken teriyaki and avo wrapped in nori and shari, then wrapped once more in tamago egg and liberally doused with sauce.

A brand new addition to their new 2013 menu (out soon)  – vegan yakitori sticks!!!  We sample two varieties of tofu yakitori:  one with sea salt and ginger, the other with traditional yakitori sauce.

all vegan sweet beancurd skin roll

all vegan sweet beancurd skin roll

By this point I am fighting the urge to undo the top button of my jeans.  Yeah… been chowing down like it’s going out of fashion.  It’s catching up with me!  Taking a sip of water while hubby takes one for the team and demolishes what I can’t finish, my thoughts start to wander to dessert.

As the green tea matcha ice cream isn’t vegan, I opt for the Banana Split Maki.  The description doesn’t do it justice: fried banana topped with fresh fruits and whipped cream.  Sprinkled with icing sugar.  Drizzled with chocolate and raspberry sauce.   We’re told customers throw caution to the wind and actually L-I-C-K the plate clean.  Some don’t even order sushi and just go straight for this baby.

The dish arrives and…

banana split maki

banana split maki

Holy.  Moly.  If looks could seduce… we’d all be in our birthday suits right about now.

Mine is the one on the end – without the cream.  The challenge was to eat the whole thing in one go to get the mish mash of different flavours in your mouth.  Banana split maki – 1.  Friska – 0.  It took me 3 mouthfuls to finish it off!

That topped off our first Aisuru dining experience.  But definitely not the last.

At the end of our meal, I asked what prompted Aisuru to commence offering vegan and vegetarian choices.  He synthesizes what I had been noticing myself.  People want vegetarian food.  People want vegan food.  I have noted it is now less of a struggle for me to buy vegan items in mainstream cafes, restaurants and supermarkets.  Change is happening!

Aisuru wanted to:

a)      Be different

b)      Give consumers the choice

c)       Be innovative

d)      Never compromise on quality

e)      Provide fusion sushi comparable to the most cutting edge restaurants in Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong, New York – the renowned “food capitals” of the world.

f)       Cater to the growing ex-pat community who are looking to recreate the same dining experiences they had while living abroad.

What can I say except mission accomplished.

Magic Mushroom

Magic Mushroom

Soon those with food intolerances can rejoice with glee!  There’s gluten free and lactose intolerant options currently being worked on by the team.  The Subiaco space will also have a separate lounge area and a fridge dedicated to cakes and other sweet things to tantalise your tastebuds.

Other than that, expansion is on the cards for Aisuru.  Perth will forever be known as its first home.  Future plans are underway to roll out the concept in South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, and the USA among many others.

I’m chuffed to think we will have a home-grown global success story.  Thinking more near-term, I’m even more ridiculously chuffed for the ability to eat sushi with hubby and non-vegan friends – without having to order the borrrrrrrr-ing cucumber roll.

Thumbs up from me.  Thumbs up from hubby.  Hubby hails from the birthplace of ‘fusion sushi’ – California.   Every so often in a fit of nostalgia he’ll wail in disappointment ‘I miss the food back home!  It lacks flavour here, it’s expensive and service is crap!’

He thanks Ken with deep sincerity “food like this makes being far away from home so much more bearable”.  You know you’re onto a good thing when the proprietors of Little Caesar’s and Jacksons’ are your regular customers.

Final verdict?  Nobu quality, Subway prices.

The finer details…

Aisuru Sushi Subiaco

480 Hay Street Subiaco – Bookings available on 9381 2919

Closed Public Holidays, Sundays and Mondays. Moving to 7 days a week very soon.

Lunch 12 to 230. Dinner 6 to 930 (till 10pm fri and sat)

&

Aisuru Sushi Northbridge

208 William Street, Northbridge

7 days a week. Lunch 12 to 230. Dinner 6 to 930 (till 10pm fri and sat)

selection of thirst quenchers

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4 thoughts on “Pushing the sushi envelope – Aisuru Sushi’s vegan offerings

  1. unfortunately they do have foie gras on their menu as well. For me a reason to avoid this place until they take it off the menu.

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