My fourth and final Dine Out of the year was at ORU. It’s located at the brand new Fairmont Pacific Rim near the Vancouver Convention Centre West Wing. Since its opening I’ve heard mixed reviews about the restaurant but the fact that it’s run by executive chef David Wong, former member of Culinary Team Canada and Bocuse d’Or Canada representative, gave me assurance that I should give it a try.
As some of you may already know, I always have my doubts about Pan Asian cuisine and am never a fan of westernized Asian dishes. Food at ORU were indeed westernized, but they were decent and flavours were just right. I started with the Sake Kasu Sablefish. Sake kasu are the lees left over from sake production, so all of the flavours, none of the alcohol. The fish was first poached then blow-torched to get the charred effect. The meat was flaky and soft. PS said, “it’s the best sablefish I’ve ever had.” Tomatoes were skinned and cooked in a gingery sauce; the skins were flash-fried and added to the dish as crispy garnish. I don’t usually like ginger but I think ginger and tomatoes made a good pair. Took a small bite of the Marinated Flank Steak Salad, it’s quite tasty with a strong aroma of sesame oil. CP really enjoyed the dish.
In my opinion entrees were probably their weak point. I ordered the Korean BBQ Pork Loin (instead of Pork Chop as stated on Tourism Vancouver’s website) even though I rarely order pork at restaurants (in fact, I can’t remember when was the last time I ordered one, if I ever did). It was the most intriguing item on the menu because Butter Chicken didn’t scream “creativity” to me and I didn’t want a vegetarian dish. From the look of it, the dish seemed small with only 3 pieces of pork, but combining with sweet potato mash and cabbage it was just the right portion size. The meat was moist, tender and flavourful, but I found the flavouring rather one-dimensional. The pork loin was rubbed with a kimchi BBQ sauce which reminded me of those Korean chili paste tubs that you can buy at ethnic supermarkets. The mash and cabbage were kind of bland so everything just relied on the BBQ sauce.
Dessert was the Silken Ganache Chocolate Tart, which, hands down, was the best of the two I’ve tried. It’s rich but not bitter like some other chocolate desserts. The crust was a layer of wafer, giving it a nice crunch. The chantilly had a subtle cardamom flavour which was what I’d have preferred since I don’t really like cardamom. I also tried the Mango Parfait and I was really confused (and still am). The texture was dense yet spongy, somewhat airy – it’s hard to describe. It had some mango sauce on top but it’s too mild that it’s almost flavourless. MP liked it, but I’d agree to disagree.
The dinner service was paced fairly well. The server was quite knowledgeable about the dishes, briefing us on the ingredients when they’re served as well as answering our questions about some of the dishes. One thing though, this was a group dinner and one week prior I had to call to reduce the party size. The gentleman on the phone said he would change it for me but somehow the memo was lost as they’re expecting the original party size when we arrived.
Situated right by the water, the floor-to-ceiling window was a smart decision and almost every table at the restaurant was given a view of the water. I love the 180 foot-long origami light fixture that greets every guest as they arrive at the restaurant. On the other hand, I found the restaurant decor – the colour scheme, the huge space as well as the big kitchen – a bit cold. It’s chic but somehow it kept reminding me of institution cafeteria. It’s also interesting that out of nowhere the two tables closest to the open kitchen (where I was seated) were high tables with bar stools; perhaps it’s for easier viewing of the open kitchen, but it felt out of place.
My dinner party had a great time at ORU. I may not know how to appreciate the interior design but overall I quite enjoyed the food.
2nd floor, Fairmont Pacific Rim
1038 Canada Place, Vancouver