Taking a small break from my Toronto trip, I want to introduce you to an Asian fusion restaurant that has been always on my to-go list since day 1. A few days ago, I finally went and tried its 5-course tasting menu. M8 Bistro & Bar has an amazing waterfront view, and it is hidden under the Burrard Bridge, along the Yaletown Seawall. Not only it was my first time visiting the restaurant, but also my first time in this quaint neighborhood. M8 showcases dishes with a fusion of Chinese and Italian culinary technique.
Once I stepped inside, I was immediately attracted by the modern and simple decor. The combination of white marble countertop, wooden long tables, and grey walls gives a soothing ambiance.
After settling down, the waitress served us an appetizer, which is also a new item on the menu, Fish “in” Chips. You would not be able to expect what it is until seeing it. It is literally fresh anchovy (fish) being fried inside of the chips. Marinated anchovies are also served on the side, along with creme fraiche for dipping. The concept is unique with perfect execution. I love dipping the chips in the creme fraiche. The marinated anchovies are sweet and spicy, with a good chewy texture. I would definitely order this again.
Our 5-Course Tasting Menu starts with the Grandpa’s Crispy Mushroom. It is a shimeji mushroom tempura, with warm kale salad, wakame, and truffle aioli. Mr. and I both enjoy our first course. The hint of tartness from the kale salad elevates the taste profile. The tempura is crispy, and it is unique to use shimeji mushroom in a tempura form! This dish is simple, yet amazing.
The second course is Beef Cheeks. The braised beef cheeks are served with 5-year-aged vinegar glazed lotus root and roasted peanuts. After eating a few bites, my mouth started to feel the numbing spice. After checking the dish closely, there is also Sichuan pepper, which causes the numbing. So be aware if you cannot eat spicy food, as it is not mentioned on the menu. Otherwise, the beef cheeks are tender, and the vinegar-glazed lotus root gives a good crunch to the dish.
Crispy Roast Duck came next. There are a few elements on the dish, including the dry-aged duck breasts, duck confit, soybean, preserved mustard green cassoulet, purple cabbage puree, and citrus fermented bean paste. The duck breast tastes okay, but I love the crispy skin. I wasn’t a big fan of the soybean or the citrus fermented bean paste. I think the citrus flavor overpowered the bean paste, which gives the dish a sweeter taste. Overall, I wasn’t a big fan of this dish.
Our fourth course is Gong Bao Foie Gras. Gong Bao (宮保) is a commonly seen Chinese dish, which usually serves with chicken. It is often spicy, flavorful, with a hint of sweetness. It also comes with a nutty flavor because cashews are often added. But in M8, you can expect surprises! The foie gras is placed on short-grain rice, roasted wild mushroom, la chang sausage (臘腸), and gong bao glaze. I love the dish, but the taste doesn’t quite match the name “Gong Bao”. It is not spicy, but it is indeed flavorful with a hint of sweetness from the la chang sausage. The dish is quite oily, and I would imagine it to be an elevated version of another Chinese dish, steamed sticky rice with la chang sausage.
After four savoury dishes, I was expecting a dessert as the last course, but unfortunately, it is another savory dish, Tiger Prawn Bucatini. I was glad that the portion is small. Bucatini is a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole in the center. It is like a super long macaroni. Though I was stuffed, I enjoyed the last course. It is lightly flavored, with a tiger prawn served on each plate. It was my first time trying bucatini, and I love the thick texture. Of course, the pasta was al dente.
As I wasn’t satisfied without dessert, I ordered the Fried Milk Custard on the side. It is rarely found in Vancouver restaurants. It is also difficult to find delicious ones, because I think it is hard to find the perfect balance of cornstarch and milk to make it solidify but remain creamy. M8 didn’t disappoint me! The dessert is nicely executed, and it has a crispy shell with steaming hot, creamy milk custard. I wish there are more pieces on the plate!
M8 Bistro & Bar is filled with surprises. I was impressed by how each dish infuses some Chinese and/or Italian components and still works well. The 5-course Tasting Menu features some of chef’s signature dishes, and my favourite are Grandpa’s Crispy Mushroom, Gong Bao Foie Gras, and Tiger Prawn Bucatini. It is $60 per person, with a minimum of 2 people. Overall, I enjoyed most of the dishes; however, I wish there is more contrast of flavor in the tasting menu. For example, include a salad or dessert on the menu instead of serving 5 savoury dishes. I also wish the waitress can understand the dish more thoroughly, or provide a better explanation when the dishes arrived. I would still recommend this tasting menu to first-time customers. Otherwise, I would prefer to order individual dishes on my next visit.
Taste : 4/5 • Service: 3.5/5 • Ambiance: 5/5 • Quality-Price: 4/5
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|Disclosure: media tasting|
|5-Course Tasting Menu: $60/person, min 2 people|