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A sushi shakeup



I'd like to think that I'm a pretty adventurous person, especially when it comes to cuisine. But like many others, I tend to get into a bit of a rut in the food department when I eat out and even more so when I go for sushi.

Living in Whistler, sushi tends to become a staple in your diet. I mean, it was just named Whistler's quintessential dish in the Pique 's Best-Of awards and at last count there were at least seven restaurants serving up the Japanese specialty in town. While hotspots like Sushi Village and Sachi tend to be on the tip of everyone's tongue when asked to recommend a good place to grab a roll or two, there's another sushi joint that's quietly come into its own since it opened late last year.

Nestled into the heart of the Upper Village, Nagomi Sushi is a bit off the beaten path for most locals, but it's worth the short trek. Translated, the name reads "peaceful partnership" and that's just what Nagomi is: founded by a group of sushi chefs and employees who used to work at Sachi Sushi who decided to strike out on their own with a restaurant that was a bit different from the rest, offering a fusion of traditional Japanese cuisine and North American favourites with a distinct twist.

On our first visit to Nagomi, we decided to shake things up a bit, casting the usual order aside (no agedashi tofu, tempura or "safe" roll choices this time around).

Instead, we sampled an assortment of mainly original creations that are changed up every few weeks, starting with a half-order of the assorted sushi ($12.50) - a selection of scallop, seared ahi, red ahi, albacore tuna, and sockeye salmon. All were fresh, flavourful and beautifully presented. At the same time, we nibbled on their tuna goma-ae ($11), Nagomi's own version of the traditional spinach goma-ae that replaces the blanched greens with pieces of raw ahi tuna coated in that familiar light and lovely peanut sauce. I'll take this version over the veggie one any day of the week.

Next up was the Red Dragon Roll ($10.50), another original creation that features delicate slices of red ahi tuna and black sesame on the exterior, with pieces of mango and tempura prawn within. Not only was it delicious, the presentation was also fun and creative, with the chefs transforming the roll into an "s" shape and crafting a dragon's head out of finely chopped veggies and salmon roe.

Now, nigiri is something I usually skip over on the menu. I don't really know why - I guess it just seems plain when compared to its more ornate sister, the roll. At Nagomi, however, we had given ourselves over to the chef, and happily sampled the pieces of Amberjack (young hamachi), Toro (belly of albacore tuna) and Tai (snapper) presented with absolutely no regrets. The distinct flavour of each fish wasn't lost to the hint of wasabi layered beneath, and the presentation was simple and elegant.

Bellies already comfortably full, we weren't done yet - we still had to sample their Black Widow Roll ($9.50), a badass version of the usual spider roll that features soft shell crab and daikon served with a webbing of curry aioli sauce and daikon. Now, before wrinkling your nose at the mention of "curry" at a sushi joint, the chefs at Nagomi have actually managed to successfully marry Indian flavour with Japanese cuisine, using just a subtle hint of curry in this light dipping sauce; definitely tradition with a twist.

After indulging in an assortment of cold choices, it was time to warm up with a traditional Japanese hot pot - a big bowl of yokensabe ($18). An assortment of seafood, including scallops, cod, salmon, prawns and clams, swam alongside tofu, vegetables, yam noodles and mushrooms in a house made broth. After adding in a splash of ponzu, the dish definitely had the hearty kick we needed to round out the meal and settle our stomachs before tackling dessert.

Yes, that's right, dessert. We couldn't say no. You see, any longtime Sachi fans will recognize the signature green tea crème brûlée ($6.50), which the chefs brought along with them to the new restaurant. While not exactly visually appealing (it's green with a caramelized brown crust), it's a sensational version of the classic French dessert, and yet another successful twist on a traditional dish.