Wanting to venture into and explore Richmond more, I was happy with my guest’s choice of dining locale. She choose the spot, heeding my request for pretty plates and stunning desserts. Searching up their address online, I was already impressed by their website’s layout, particularly the font choice. So was even more excited to walk in and see that their actual restaurant was just as unique.
Cooled to a chill, the temperature was a stark difference from the balmy night outdoors. Past that I immediately noticed the canvased writing on the wall. A series of animated signs describing ramen bases: tonkotsu, shoyu, regular ramen, miso, and tomato. Each with a description of their flavours and a list of what goes in to making them. Practical. Not only was this functional as interactive decor, but for those who take the time to read it, it gives a far better description of what things were than their servers or menus could describe. I was most enamoured with the 3D clay crafted ingredients: boiled eggs, cuts of pork, seaweed sheets, and onion bulbs; each with hands, feet, and joyful facial expressions. I guess they were happy to have you eat them?
The space under each canvas was scattered with wooden mirrors in black and red, fake foliage, and origami creations done in floral paper. All a little thrift store cheap, and something they could have gone without.
Similarly the left wall was decorated with practicality. Menu options and specials written on dry boards in Chinese characters. The nature of the board allowed for easy updating and the broadcasting of daily specials. The space in between the boards was striped with diagonal lines. On them rested folded origami butterflies.
From the ceiling hung paper lanterns in white, orange, and brown. They without candles, depended on the adjacent light bulbs for their brightness.
The menu was equal parts photo to printed options. It allowed for easy decisions based on visual interest. Though narrowing it down, to pick from a page was hard, with all the items and possible add ons for extra. Though the clearly defined sections helped: Speciality drinks, slush, ice cream floats, appetizer tapas, ramen, fried noodles/udon, signature curry, rice, iron plate, hot pot, and desserts. Yes several pages, but with 5-6 options per, it was a quick and easy read.
“Osaka sunrise” strawberry and peach soda”. This was just a plain fizzy soda sweeten with syrup. With its gradient glass it looked better than it tasted. It was unnecessarily fancy, carbonated soda water and strawberry syrup.
“Ferrero Rocher slush”. As decadent as you can imagine. With actual balls of the chocolate and nuts blended in the drink was a gritty chew. The flavour was as expected, hazelnut and cream. It almost had me feeling guilty for having this drink with dinner then a dessert after. It sure didn’t compliment my meal. The bonus chocolate on top was a nice touch. I wonder how many went in to making this.
“Jumbo seared scallops in garlic butter”. These weren’t the type of scallops I had envisioned, not the soft buttery ones offered at fine dining establishments. These were ridged and gamey, with a tendon like chew. I didn’t like the texture and it’s only got worse cold. The sauce was just as grainy and didn’t help. You know you don’t like the food when you get four to an order and you argue to see who takes the last.
“Asari butter sakemushi in tonkotsu broth”. Calms in ramen broth. We had a choice between a spicy or mild broth, we choose the former. The soup was sandy, possibly from what was once in the closed clam shells. A decent amount of shellfish in a pleasant presentation. The tiny tea light help keep the dish warm throughout the meal. It stood lit under the cradle the pot balanced on.
“Marinated seaweed salad with real crabmeat”. With no mention of it on the menu we were surprised to have this dish be more corn that crab. There was even more corn than seaweed. Given the price and the cost of real crab meat, I would have liked to pay more for more crab; otherwise a more accurate name to describe this dish would be “corn salad with real crab”. The salad was creamy, and the sweetness of the corn and crab partnered well with the salty tang of the seaweed. Similarly the smooth texture of the corn and crab combo went well with the chewy nature of the seaweed. A well balanced dish and my favourite of the night.
“Deep fried tentacles in mild spicy mayo”. Fried chewy squid bits just as I expected them to be. Though I could have used more of the mayo as a dipping sauce. Surprisingly the squid held its crispy nature for longer.
Wanting a dessert more unique to them we went with ones made with more traditional Asian elements. “Deep fried black sesame sticky rice balls with French vanilla ice cream”. Originally our server was firm on us not being able to change the scoop of vanilla ice cream included for one of green tea, but my guest turn on the puppy dog eyes and we got our wish. The chewy sweet balls of distinctive black sesame were amazing. The perfect portion for one bite. I would come back just for this. A little too sweet, but nothing a scoop of green tea ice cream couldn’t balance out, ironically.
“Warm sweet yam it a azuki bean sauce topped with cool French vanilla ice cream”. The yam was still warm, it quickly melted the ice cream seated on top, becoming a much needed sauce over it. The yam was whipped smooth, without lumps it was like a starchy yogurt. Though disappointingly it was not seasoned. As a dessert it could have used some sweetness to it. Maybe some condense milk mixed right in or some at the bottom of the plate to dip into. Overall it looked better than it tasted.
At 9:45pm on a Thursday it was last call. From there it was a silent and slow kick out for all the patrons left. After a verbal confirmation that we would not be ordering more we were immediately asked to pay. Be warned they, as many other restaurants in Richmond, only accept cash. The music was shut off and the lights were dimmed, it was obvious that we were no longer wanted. It felt a little cold.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I liked their menu, there was a lot of originality to it, from inventive slushes to creative desserts. Each one with character, presented as a feast for the eyes before one the belly enjoyed. They have a great line up of Asian and Japanese specific tapas, the perfect small dishes for sharing and the trying of new things. A great little spot with ample complimentary lot parking in an easy to get to area of Richmond. Shame they weren’t open later, as their food makes for ideal late night snacking. Don’t deny your cravings.