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Category: sushi Page 1 of 7

Green Leaf Café

I enjoyed my visit to the Broadway location so much, that when looking for a place for dinner in Burnaby, I was more than happy to visit their original location. It is a larger space with a larger menu. Although, with so much on their menu worth exploring, I had to take in their restaurant twice, before writing this review.

The Burnaby location is definitely the largest property of the two. A restaurant that greets you with its bar, well lit in the form of their logo. Available seating spills over on either ends. I can best describe the whole as a cabin, with wood planked walls, wooden floor boards, and worn wood tables and chairs that match. Wooden clocks hang on the wall, wooden ornaments hang from light fixtures, and wood crates are repurposed as shelves. The latter of which is used to showcase a collection of rustic antiques, glass bottles, and faux plants as decor. They even serve you the bill in a wooden water bucket.

The menu is pretty straightforward. A list of omelette rices, fritters, meat on grills, “big fresh greens”, “rice house”, stuff from their raw bar, fresh oshi, aburi oshi, pasta + udon, “gimbal” (Korean style rolls), and “social sharing” platters. Self explanatory, but I still could have used a lot more photos, if any. Considering they are a fusion restaurant, it would make the ordering process easier. You also might order more, when being able to see what you will be getting before hand.

They are well known for their omelette rice, and not coincidentally I tried all they had to offer under this category. The “Tornado omelette rice” is available in a sweet and savoury demiglace or in a creamy jalapeño sauce. We got the former, taking in to consideration our server’s recommendation. It is a marvel how they are able to whip eggs this smooth, then churn it like spun fabric. The result, a unique texture that is both chewy and airy. Comforting with the familiar gravy and tender rice.

Similar in taste, but with a varying texture in it eggs is the “House omelette rice”. This too is served in a sweet and savoury demiglace, but with fried garlic flakes, tomato, and chilli. The flavour is similar to a sweet pasta sauce with the inclusion of stewed tomatoes embedded into the rice. Overall good, but I would have liked all it with a sweet Japanese curry sauce instead. Here, the eggs are beaten in to sponge-like consistency, it ate like tofu in the way it melted. But the highlight of the dish, was the crispy garlic chips that added a crunch and some depth of flavour.

The “Soufflé mushroom risotto”, applied a different technique to preparing its eggs. Foamy and light, it was well described as a “Cloud egg omelette”. With jalapeño, it sits over a creamy mushroom risotto. The cloud separated like meringue. It created a nice break, something light and refreshing to balance out the richness of the earthy mushrooms. Together, this made for another comforting dish to curl up with.

In a completely different direction, we had the punchy “Spicy crunch prawn”, under the “tempura” section of the menu. Five pieces of battered and deep fried tiger prawns, coated heavily in a spicy mayo and tangy brown sauce. It all sits on a bed of greens that functions like a mixed green salad. It tasted like the filling of a sushi roll that I have had before, and I wanted it like that again, with its slower burn. With all this flavour, it needed a base to even things out. It needed rice.

“Green Leaf” is also known for their “oshi”, Osaka style pressed sushi. The obvious choice is their flame-kissed aburi oshi in salmon. And although I am sure I would have enjoyed it, I had to order the most interesting of my options, which was the “Basil ebi tiger prawn oshi”. Tiger prawn, basil pesto oshi sauce, black olive, and Parmesan cheese. Not surprising, it tasted like a pasta dish, minus the black olive slice that over powered, and felt out of place. The whole bite left me wanting wanting garlic bread and a red wine, thanks to the pesto and parm combo. Overall, fun for novelty, but not one I would order again. It is probably best along side other oshi, and used as a break in between bites.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Good food, familiar and comforting flavours, and a menu with plenty more worth exploring. Where else can you get eggs like this? Don’t deny your cravings.

GREEN LEAF
9604 Cameron St, Burnaby, BC V3J 1M2
(604) 444-9802
greenleafcafebc.ca

Green Leaf Sushi

Today I was at the “Green Leaf” located in Kits, based off of a recommendation. And seeing how many people were waiting to enter right when they open at 5pm, alongside with me, it seems like I made the right decision. Here, it was nice they had benches around their exterior to seat those waiting.

We grabbed a couple of seats by the window bar. The space is maximized with short, narrow tables, a necessity given how they all quickly filled 15minutes after they opened. And throughout our stay, the restaurant saw a continuous turn of people sitting, eating, and leaving. Not including all the take out and food delivery orders.

As for the decor, it is more about what materials they used and where, as apposed to a collection of artifacts or art. Tile floors, panelled walls, wood block features, and wooden table and chairs. What didn’t seem to fit was the type of music being played. I found the classic styling of Frank Sinatra a little too jazzy for this causal, fast food, sushi and Japanese shoppe.

When it came to the meal, I liked the option of having either hot or warm tea. I choose the ready to drink room temperature version.

As for the food we shared a collection of items that jumped out at us. The “Aburi tobiko roll” is filled with wild sockeye salmon, cucumber, crab meat, and tobiko; topped with oshi sauce and green sauce. It was a tasty roll, especially with the crunch from the toasted tobiko, and the warming heat from the jalapeño. I would order this one again.

But I would skip the “Kani-ume oshi sushi” the next time around. Real Dungeness crab, tiger prawn, ume oshi sauce, and crispy capers with ume dressing. You could taste the quality of the crab, but the amount of mayo used was overwhelming. It needed more tang to cut into it, and I didn’t find the salted plum or the capers complimentary or effective in this regard.

Our server mentioned having uni in today, so I took advantage, by adding $6 a piece to the “Uni meshi ishiyaki” rice bowl. I ordered two pieces and they gave me two smaller ones when the second piece didn’t measure up. I ended up enjoying them as is, to not take away from their creamy flavour.

As for the mushroom bowl base it was shiitake and shimeji with rice in a hot stone bowl, served with a seaweed sauce. It also comes with a side of miso soup. It was like a Japanese style risotto with the sweetness of the shiitake mushroom coming through. The green onion added freshness and any excess uni acted like a creamy fermented egg to help sauce up the rice.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Based on the what we had, and all the creative menu items we considered, I would definitely like to return to try more. Don’t deny your cravings.

GREEN LEAF
3416 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6R 2B3
604-568-9406
greenleafcafebc.ca

Black Rice Izakaya, summer menu 2019

Summer is in full swing, it is hot, you are sweating, and “Black Rice” is here to help. They are offering up another creative menu for this summer season, a few heat reducing dishes, served with Rosé.

The Rosé was great with our meal, but we had some soju to get us there. “Kashidaru” is Japanese soju aged in a whiskey barrel, exclusive to “Black Rice”. It is from one of Japan’s oldest sake breweries and comes with an interesting story. Their President passed away and they discovered this batch in his personal barrel room. And without any records they had to do some sleuthing to discover its vintage. This soju was aged for minimum of 13-15 years old. And after “Black Rice’s” four cases are done, and the other 10 left are gone, there won’t be any more, ever. And for $11 for 2oz or $120 for a bottle, I can see that happening soon.

As promised the menu served up temperature appropriate dishes, like chilled soup and cold fish to cool you down. And I can attest that this it did just that. I came in to the restaurant from under the sweaty sun, and left cool inside and out.

The “Spicy cold sashimi soup” is a common dish in Korea, and a nice way to start our meal. Cold spicy broth, seabass sashimi with salad. The lovely white fish was a nice compliment to the zing of the hot spice. There were perfect together, without overpowering one another. It would have been nice to have a bowl of rice or a handful of noodles to enjoy the rest of the broth with though, after all the fish is gone.

“Miso ceviche” in a miso broth with truffle oil, onion, peppers, and seabass. Served with taro chips that make for good scoops. It didn’t taste much like miso, but I appreciated the twist with the use of yuzu citrus instead of lemon or lime. I also made out the strong flavour of shiso leaves, which I didn’t prefer. This was another refreshing summer offering, but you were left with so much ceviche, and not enough chips to eat them with; and especially not enough fish roe to top each bite with. Without the chip it was just soggy fish salad.

“Teishoku D” is their cold noodle box option. Plain soda noodles, 3 assorted tempura, 2 pieces inari sushi, a side of tempura crumb, agedashi tofu, assorted oshinko, and green salad. You dip the noodles into the sweet sauce and slurp as you like. With a variety of sides, this makes for a fulsome lunch box.

Their “Pad Thai Yaki Soba” was another creative fusion dish. You take the idea and flavours of a shrimp pad Thai, including the tamarind; but instead of flat rice noodles you use buckwheat soba noodles. And the result is an extra tasty dish that has a great heavy starch chew from the noodles, and an extra kick from the korean bbq sauce, gochujang. Delicious, but a little watery.

The “Ika feast” was one squid two ways. Squid tubes sous-vide in butter and finished on grill, and its tentacles battered and fried in tempura. We were given a choice between two presentations and we all agreed that although the grill was a nice visual, the one without it would be more practical when serving. The hay set on fire in the grill creates smoke and a distinct fragrance that could effect everything else you eat to follow it.

As for the squid, I preferred it grilled, especially with the creamy and tangy sauce you dip it into to. The fried version was more like Greek-style calamari, especially with the cooling tzaziki it was served with. The sauces were definitely the highlight and what gave everything its flavour.

The “Soy chicken karaage” was classic Korean style street food, double fried. Juicy dark meat karaage, battered, powdered, deep fried, and then glazed in their house soy sauce. It had a medium level of spice to it, with the ability to adjust it more or less to your taste. A great tapas option, best enjoyed with one of their many specialty beers.

And since we were already there, we had to try some of our and their customer favourites. Like the “Unagi” roll, which always makes for a great show. A prawn tempura and cucumber black rice roll topped with eel, and drizzled with a sweet brown sauce. It is torched table side for some extra caramelization.

Their “Lollipops” are a great way to enjoy sushi, gluten-free with no rice. Thinly slices of radish are wrapped around sockeye salmon, bell pepper, tamago, oshinko, cucumber, asparagus, avocado, and spinach. I liked the novelty of holding it by the stick, but would have liked to dunk it into something. Some sauce to flavour, before I took a bite that had it crumbling. As is it was bland, yet was too much like a salad roll to dip into soy and enjoy.

My favourite and the must have, anytime you are here is either of their “Aburi platters”. 6 piece aburi salmon hako, 8 piece black mentaiko roll, and 4 piece chef’s choice aburi nigiri. You are asked to allow them 20 mins to prepare it all, and I can tell you it is worth the wait.

Their “Aburi Hakozushi platter” was a complete set of their 4 signature aburi rolls. Aburi salmon, aburi saba, aburi negitoro, and aburi scallop. A great one for sharing. A collection of textures and flavours for any sushi lover who likes their raw fish a little cooked, and their sauces creamy and warm.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
“Black Rice” continues to be one of my go-to’s for creative Asian fusion. They are so very thoughtful in their food offerings. Trying new things and catering to the season and their explorative clientele. If they keep this up, I will most definitely be back time and time again. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLACK RICE
782 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2R5
7781379-0416
blackrice.ca

Ton Ton Sushi

Today I was on the South Cambie restaurant strip, checking out a new sushi addition. There really isn’t anything any visual that has this place standing out, inside and out. My decision to visit was based on an invitation.

They have been open since January of this year, and there really hasn’t been much of a buzz surrounding their opening. Although the restaurant was steady with locals on a Tuesday. They were cleverly catering to the neighbourhood, offering approachable Japanese tapas and sushi with North American twists.

The menu was a novel, 10 pages of small plates, combos, and drinks. With so many possibilities to siphon through, having high resolution photos were helpful. In my case, I allowed my guest to do the ordering.

We started with their raw oysters, which unlike at other places, come dressed. At $1 each during happy hour we did a dozen. Twelve Fanny Bay oysters of various sizes, half dressed in soy, the other six in sweet Korean chilli. The flavours were good, but they fully hid the oyster, so I can’t actually review the quality of them.

Similarly, the quality of the fish used in the “Italian seasoned tuna tataki” was hidden behind the heavy handed Italian spices. This was an interesting interpretation, one not need repeating. It overpowered the fragrant tuna with the flavour of salt, tangy, and capers.

However, I finally got to appreciate the quality of their seafood with the “Ituna and ikura”. A lean fish with a creamy finish, topped with roe that popped in your mouth.

Similarly, there was nothing to hide behind with the sea urchin. Served as a two bite nigiri with seaweed. Serving smaller pieces, they combined three to create enough for one. Once again another quality product. Slightly sweet, completely creamy, melt in your mouth uni.

The “Sushi pizza” was another fusion offering, a concept that had been done, but this the “Ton Ton” way. Just looking at it you can’t tell it was meant to be presented as a pizza. The very thick slabs of tuna and salmon covered the crispy and chewy brown rice patty base. And there was much more of it, where for pizza the crust typically is the platform. The flavour was good with the creamy and spicy dressing, but I wanted the pizza easier to eat. The fish chopped up into cubes, and slices you can hold and take nibbles from.

The crispy wings were a spicy pub-style wings. Tasty enough, but really not what I would recommend ordering from a sushi place, given all the fresh seafood they have to offer.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They offer quality for those looking for raw and fresh fish. And familiar flavours for those who need some fusion to edge them in. Not a destination, but a good option if you are in the area. And with everything at reasonable prices, I can see why the neighbourhood came out for dinner tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TON TON SUSHI
4018 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y 2H5
604-428-2742
sushitonton.com

Fairmont Pacific Rim Lobby Lounge, Omakase

This one has been a long time coming. My friend is a big fan of sushi and when she saw the Omakase menu from Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby Lounge, she immediately reached out for us to dine with her. Unfortunately it is only available for lunch during the weekdays, with limited quantities available. This meant we all had to book a day off to enjoy this fresh seafood feast. So we three gathered together on a Thursday between 11-4pm.

In my opinion, this is one of the nicest hotel lobby bars in the city. Past the comfortable lounge with live music and glass fireplace is a bright space. All white with clean tables and stools, in front of a small sushi bar. We were given a spacious table in front of the three sushi chefs, who would be crafting our assembly to come. It was set with a couple of books and a couple of artificial potted plants.

Once again this feast is by reservation only, there isn’t even a listed menu, it is what ever is on hand on the day, and at the whim of our chef. Previously there was a 4 person minimum requirement to your party, but they have since been more flexible on this rule. It is $50 per person, served all together family style, but with the ability to divide servings evenly.

To start with, I decided to indulge in a cocktail flight. A limited edition trio that pays tribute to the four vintage and couture Versace dresses and jumpsuit that they currently have on display in the lobby. At $45 you are paying $15 for 3 smaller drinks, made with premium ingredients. The cost also included the lovely flight sheet with each cocktail’s descriptions and sketches of the fashions they took inspiration from.

The “Bombshell” was a light and fizzy glass on the sweeter side, but with pops of punchy liquor. It was finished off brilliantly with a tart cherry at the bottom. The cocktail was as bold in flavour and full of complexity as the pop art details of the jumpsuit it drew from. This was a fashion silk print of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

Like the ruffled silhouette, the “High noon” too took its inspiration from the “Great American Cowboy”. Smokey, full bodied, and easy to sip with rich notes of sarsaparilla and all spice. It promises to keep you warm throughout the dark winter nights.

The “Pop art cosmo” takes inspiration from the 60’s, just like its dress pairing. Pop art graphics and bold colours. This twist on a cosmo includes cranberry and a hibiscus vodka. It is accented with mezcal and black raspberry liquor, giving you a deep and more alcohol forward beverage with tart pops.

As for our Omakase feast we started with their sablefish miso soup with pork belly, tofu, seaweed, and green onion. This was certainly the most luxurious miso soup I have ever enjoyed. With plenty of ingredients it ate more like a stew than soup. It was sweet and smokey, along with the regular salty and fishy flavour of miso. Although, I could have used a touch less oily grease per spoonful. Nonetheless I drank the bowl clean.

Next we each had two raw oysters in shell each. Typically they go for $5 per, and I can see why. These were some of the plumpest oysters I have ever had. Tasty and fresh. My guest said, “they were on steroids!” Served with tiny bottles of tabasco and the typical tomato and lemon vinaigrette, plus plenty of fresh horseradish to ladle on.

The following dishes were all presented on a long serving board, propped up on two wooden blocks. Everyone was given a taste of the following, grouped together before us. Four appetizers, four nigiri, and six various specialty sushi pieces. The following is the order in which we enjoyed them, doing so from lightest to heaviest.

The seaweed salad was a hearty mix with two clams in shell, two pieces of juicy shrimp, and a chunk of light sable fish.

The tuna tataki and spinach gomae was served room temperature. The pieces of tuna were tender and lightly seasoned, but I would have liked more sauce or some on the side to dip into. I passed on the mound of spinach, not enjoying the texture of wilted greens. Though my guests were more than happy to gobble up my share, so it must have been good.

The wild salmon was fragrant, a flavour only dampen by the amount of onion you could taste on it. A flavour that came from the gathering of onion sliced at the bottom of the cup, and not from actually eating any.

Next we enjoyed the nigiri that all came pre-seasoned with soy and wasabi. The Sardine nigiri was salty with no soy needed. It was a tangy and overwhelming on flavour.

By comparison the Shrimp nigiri was very light, fragrant with a hint of sweetness.

The Wild salmon was tasty, with more salmon flavour than the appetizer version above.

And the Tuna belly was luscious and certainly my favourite of the four.

Next we enjoyed some specialty rolls. Like their house roll: the “Lobby lounge roll”. An asparagus, avocado, cucumber, and shisho roll topped with salmon and hamachi. This was on overly herbaceous roll thanks to the herb.

I preferred the California roll made with real crab meat. The real shredded crab with creamy mayo made all the difference.

The Sesame albacore roll was made with plenty of sesame oil. It was fragrant and so nice that I wanted another taste.

Whereas the Wayu roll was disappointing. It was like a bite of meat and rice with vegetable. Whereas I would have liked the meat by itself, as an appetizer. It felt wasted to hide the grilled char of the meat behind rice and cucumber.

The Salmon motoyaki was my favourite of the six rolls. The gooey cheese sauce flavoured it well, adding a mouthwatering creaminess to the bite.

And the Lobster roll was good, but it tasted much like the California roll crab, but saltier. I wanted a more buttery flavour from this and from lobster in general.

And we saved the best for last. A serving of creamy uni made into a salad with ikura, shisho, and seaweed. My guest immediately declared, “This is what good uni tastes like”. It didn’t have a strong seafood taste, it was mild and melted in your mouth. Rich, buttery, and good.

And as a nice treat the restaurant surprised our birthday girl with a celebratory dessert platter to share. An assembly of chocolate, chocolate covered fruit, and macarons on a bed of cocoa nibs.

The Chocolate covered Strawberry with edible gold paint was delicious. I definitely recommend ordering yourself a plate for your next occasion.

The Yuzu macaron was citrus fresh, a little orange and a little lemon in a crisp shell with smooth cream.

The Cherry blossom chocolate was a beautiful dark chocolate enrobing a tart cherry centre.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The omakase menu is definitely worth checking out during lunch time. But as a whole Lobby Lounge is one of my favourite places to grab a beautiful cocktail at, with live music in an opulent setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOBBY LOUNGE
Fairmont Pacific Rim
1038 Canada Place, Vancouver BC, V6C OB9
604-695-5557
lobbyloungerawbar.com

Minami, revisit while on the Keto Diet

It has been a while since I visited “Minami”. I enjoy the food, but don’t always feel like I am getting the most out of my meals with them. Considering the money I spend, and the smaller portion sizes I receive. Although always delicious and fresh, I often leave wanting more for cheaper, else where.

But today I was dining with @MaryinVancity, who has started and is adhering to a ketogenic diet. The “Keto diet” is a low-carb, high-fat diet, in which she has already seen some success in. “It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis”, (according to Wikipedia). So today, Japanese cuisine offered a menu with many dishes she could enjoy or easily modify to be without carbs.

But before we get into it, for my first visit to “Minami” and my thoughts on the vibe and the decor, visit the link below.

Minami

Mary was able to enjoy the kale salad and salmon sashimi, still meeting her diet’s requirements.

Instead of the traditional spinach version, “Minami” offers the Yaletown crowd a familiar kale twist. Though the “Kale goma-ae” is seasoned in sesame soy, just as the spinach would have been. The leaves of the kale offers a nice crisp texture that holds up. I typically avoid the regular version for its wilted greens, so being able to chew through the firm kale now was nice. This was easy to eat and tasty in its sauces.

The “Salmon sashimi” was beautifully plated and incredibly fresh. No complaints.

We also shared the “Aburi beef carpaccio”. AAA sterling silver short rib, 63 degree sous vide egg, shaved grana padano, wasabi creme fraiche, caper crisps, organic baby greens, and a wasabi chimichurri ponzu. We were advised to break the yolk and mix the lot together. The outcome, thin cuts of meat made gummy by the saucy egg. This was a nice contrast to the fresh sprigs of green and the firm and salty shards of cheese. An amazing plate for $22.

Thanks to Mary, I learned about the keto diet, what you can and can’t eat, and how so many have found success in losing weight with it. However I don’t think I could give up carbs, they are the foundation of what I like about eating. Like sushi with its chewy rice so I had to order myself some below.

Working on the assumption that dinner wouldn’t be more than $30 I rounded out my meal with the “Champagne roll”. A sushi roll Mary could only try one of, as the rice that coated the sushi roll is a carb. A Hokkaido scallop, sockeye salmon and cucumber roll, coated in golden tobiko. The latter gives it its name in colour and the fact that eating these tiny fish eggs gives this roll a popping sensation. Pops like those from a bottle of champagne with its fizzy bubbles, and they lingered well after. I continue to find bits of tobiko in my teeth and on my tongue, and continue to bit down and pop them all in relish. The roll was prepared and served sans soy, flavoured intentionally for a salty and sweet combination. It was a lighter roll, allowing you to make out the natural flavour of the shellfish and fresh fish. Tasty but at $18 a little much for every day dining.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This continues to be a Yaletown hot spot. A great place for small plates and light banter. I advise visiting with a group, to be able to try everything and afford it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MINAMI
1118 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2T9
604-685-8080
minamirestaurant.com
Minami Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Riz Sushi

Today I was invited to “Riz” to check out their newest menu item, a build your own Chirashi bowl, and just as they received their latest shipment of fresh fish flown in from Japan.

“Riz” is better known for their contributions to the catering scene, offering their fresh made poke bowls and sushi rolls to local fine food grocery stores and hospitality services. But you can also get their goods right from the source, at their humble store front located in East Vancouver. There, they are also known for their savvy mural. A memento from previous owners, redone in the image of the new owner’s love of hip hop. A Japanese garden with 90’s and 00’s rappers painted in, a nod to the restaurant’s excellent playlist offering you classic and new beats.

Before we sat down to eat, I was treated to the unboxing of the fish. I witnessed the opening of the styrofoam shipping box and the reveal of several whole fish kept frozen on ice. Definitely a first for me, and it spoke well to the quality of the seafood to come.

We got our stomachs warmed up, literally with their “Aburi salmon bowl”. A great way to enjoy the great flavour of poke, but a little warmed up for the colder weather. It was warm yet cool, crunchy and crispy, yet chewy. A whole slew of ingredients gathered together for a bombardment of flavour and textures that kept you interested bite after bite. Seaweed, cucumber, edamame, crab meat, tobiko, tempura, and plenty of salmon. All coated in a spicy mayo aioli and their feature sauce. To date this is my favourite version of poke. It pops with a really good fish and vegetable to rice ratio. I didn’t have to ration bits of salmon with spoonfuls of rice.

We followed that up with the feature. Today we had our Chirashi bowl curated for us, but typically it is a choose your own adventure. You pay per piece and only for that which you want. The first I have ever heard of. It is nice to not have to eat the filler fish or egg pieces first, and only then slowly work your way to what you actually want from a sashimi rice bowl. Here you want everything you get because you specifically asked for it.

Our bowl included Sockeye salmon, tuna, octopus, shima aji, madai, hokkaido scallop, local hamachi, Japanese hamachi, and blue fin tuna belly (otoro). We were advised to start with the less fattier cuts of fish and work our way to the richer morsels of tuna, hamachi, and otoro. You could tell the difference between the hamachi imported from Japan, versus what was sourced more locally for less. Just like how you can tell it was the otoro you were biting into, with its buttery finish and satisfying after taste.

And now you can get your very own “Riz” customizable Chirashi bowl today. I would advise just getting the blue fin tuna and making it the best bowl ever. Although be aware, the availability of your favourite fish will be on rotation, with different catches being imported weekly.

But despite the catch of the day, at “Riz” you are guaranteed quality, they pride themselves on bringing downtown Vancouver quality raw seafood to the East Side, and into their comfortable setting. Fast food that doesn’t cut corners, offered at prices close to cost. The bowl we had would be considered a super deluxe bowl, priced at around $20-$30. Whereas at other restaurants offering similar quality of fish you would be charged $30-50 for 6 pieces.

We followed our feast of deluxe sashimi with a handsome nigiri platter featuring Hokkaido scallops, local spot prawn, and shima aji and madai from Japan. The imported fish was gentle, perfectly nestled on a bed of sushi rice. And as a fun contrast the crustaceans were sauced up for a sweet and salty finish.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Quality fish on par with any that you’d find in Vancouver, but conveniently in East Vancouver, for those who don’t want to travel downtown. Great fish based entrees like poke, sushi, and now chirashi available at reasonable prices, fast and easy in an unpretentious setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RIZ
2887 East Broadway, Vancouver BC
604-215-9799
rizsushi.com

Black Rice revisit

I appreciate a restaurant that continues to evolve and grow. One that offers menus to entice people to come back and often. And this is the main reason why I am not a fan of chain restaurants and their stable staples. Whereas smaller restaurants and one of’s, like “Black Rice” continues to put out dynamic and playful plates that are as delicious as they are photogenic. And today I was invited to try the newest round to hit their tables, as well as being treated to a few fan favourites.

Black Rice Izakaya

For the original visit review, and more detail on the decor and setting check out the link above.

 

But first, we celebrated the occasion with some sparkling sake. And all I can say is, how have I not explored this subsection of sake sooner? You get the fragrance of sake all coated in bubbles for a nice fizz. Our bottle to share was served with shot glasses placed within a branded wooden box. The use of the box signifies the intention to over pour. Basically when you see this, you know you are getting a fat shot. The glass is filled to the brim, and whatever runs over becomes available to sip right from the squared cup under it.

“Salmon Candy” is a salad that I would order. Bite size chunks tossed together for a choose your own adventure of beet cured salmon, pickled pearl onion, and feta cheese. Served with an herbed avocado puree. Together, this made for a nice and breezy start to the rich meal to come.

I liked how the “Menchi Katsu” looked visually and even more how it tasted. Minced Prime Angus beef patty and Mozzarella, deep fried inside a panko crusted shell. Crunchy and gooey, one of my favourite texture pairings. The ability to stretch and pull the cheese into lengthy strands spoke to the quality. Delicious.

I loved how saucy the “Spicy Grilled Chicken” was. Sous vide spicy marinated chicken thigh finished on a charcoal grill for nice crispy edges. I only wished for some rice to enjoy it with.

The “Beef tongue carpaccio” was sliced sous vide beef tongue with fried onion, ponzu and mushroom puree. The meat was buttery smooth and extremely tender, a nice chew with salty and saucy undertones. And the fried topping gave things some needed crunch.

They also showcased two new vegan rolls. One with avocado and cabbage over rice, the other pico de gallo over rice. They were simply guacamole rolls that lacked the pizazz of the other dishes before and after. They were as simple as it sounds, and in much need of some seasonings. I don’t know why I like avocado rolls, which are pretty much the same, much better.

They had two different table side cooking apparatuses to serve their “Prime Angus tenderloin steak”. Sous vide then grilled to finish, served with asparagus and shiitake mushroom, topped with a house-made black truffle butter. One was heated stone, the other a burner under a grill rack. Sadly our photo shoot and the time we took cost us the meat, as the beef ended up being over cooked, forced to sit and sizzle. So be sure if and when you order this one, you eat it as soon as you get it, when it is still pink in the middle. The truffle flavour was prominent thanks to the butter; although I would have preferred it on the crisp grilled vegetables for an extra pop instead. As to not take away from the natural savouriness of the beef cubes, that were flavourful on their own.

The “Aburi platter for 2 was a delectable serving of 6 spicy salmon halo pieces, 8 black mentaiko roll, and four of the chef’s choice aburi nigiri. I liked the sauciness of the lightly torched sushi pieces. I found the fish tender and the flavours fulsome. No need from a side of soy when you have spicy jalapeño and chilli cream.

The “Aburi Hakozushi platter” is their original and most popular Aburi assembly. A complete and shareable serving of their four signature Aburi sushi rolls: Aburi salmon, Aburi Saba, Aburi negitoro, and Aburi scallop. There is a warning that an order may take 20 minutes to roll and torch for that semi cooked, slightly charred flavour that is indicative of a good Aburi. Creamy and saucy like the 2.0 version above. A cohesive assembly with similar flavours that went well together. The stand out for me were the sprouts, adding a new element and some textural depth.

I really liked the “Mentaiko udon” for its creamy and chewy texture. Fully coated in the unique flavour of cod roe, it was rich and full bodied. The fishy after-notes were balanced by the saltiness of the bacon pieces. This was a flavour you couldn’t put your finger on, but at the same time managed to grow on you.

“Beef and enkoi stone bowl”. A mix of tender beef, chewy mushrooms, and fresh vegetable over steamed rice. It is served sizzling in the headed stone bowl, and continues to cook as you toss them all together. The result, a crispy fried rice that is still moist with sauce. It was savoury with the meatiness of the mushrooms really coming through.

By comparison, the “Bacon and shrimp stone bowl” was a lot sweeter, much like a toned down teriyaki sauce. Both offered a nice base for a few of the small plates, as well as giving you heartier morsels to share.

Another customer favourite is “Black Angus Nigiri”. Served gently sous vide with further cooking from a handheld torch. They were luscious slices of beef that were well highlighted by the beds of rice each sat on. A must try.

And the showstopper of our meal was definitely their sashimi seafood platter. It was like a Japanese seafood tower served raw over crushed ice. Horse mackerel, Sea urchin, Button shrimp, Golden eye sea bream, Red sea bream, Halibut, Yellow tale Amberjack, Greater Amberjack, and Seared sockeye salmon. This one went quick within our group, and I wasn’t able to try all of it. But what I did have was fresh and fragrant, and enough to recommend this for presentation and taste, just make sure you share it between 2 individuals and not 10.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Delicious and fun dishes that feed your eyes as well as your belly, and all at reasonable prices. Worth checking out for some of the creative stuff that they do and their menu that keeps evolving and delivering. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLACK RICE
782 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2R5
7781379-0416
blackrice.ca

Toku Japanese Restaurant

Today I was at “Toku” dining with some friends. One suggested it, having been before and liking it enough that she thought it was worth my reviewing.

Located in Landsdowne centre, there was plenty of parking and plenty of seating inside the restaurant. It is actually a lot bigger than it looks from the outside with entrances/exits that lead in and out of the mall and on to the sidewalk.

Despite the causal nature of the restaurant it has certain decorative elements that make it feel a lot dressier than it ought to be. Like the opalescent island bar that anchored the open space. It was lit internally and felt like it belonged in a night club.

The sushi bar was tiled with round rocks behind a chain link fence. Here, their black robed sushi chef stood at the ready rolling fresh fish into rice and seaweed.

At the very back of the room was a painted mural of white blossoms that almost shone in the dark of a black painted night sky. This imaginary was furthered by golden lanterns that barely lit the area. Lanterns in the shape of boxes and cylinders framed in wood, each one marking the end of a table. We were seated at one such booth. Where it and all the other tables had a button installed. This red push button was used to call any server when you needed their assistance. However I found it a faulty system, as even with the sounding of the button being pushed and the flashing of the table number calling it, the servers weren’t really listening out for either. I observed on a handful of occasions it being ignored as they rather re-stack menus at the counter or set empty tables. And it wasn’t like there were many tables seated or anyone waiting for a one at the door. They just didn’t seem to see or hear the buzzer. Therefore I would have liked the traditional method of checking in, and to then pay my server appropriately for their service and attentiveness.

We all ordered off the lunch menu, although I was seriously considering their sashimi sets and the hot pot meal off the full menu. But then I remembered that this was a mall sushi restaurant and maybe should go in cautiously before spending more and not getting the quality I feel I deserve for my payment.

From the lunch sushi special you choose one roll and it comes with a side dish of your choose along with salad and miso soup.

The side is one of six options, my guest went for the two pieces of flame sushi; over ebi sunomono, spicy tuna, spicy tuna cone, or spinach gomaae. I would have done the same as it looked like you would get the most value from it.

The “Maple Famous roll” was spicy tuna mixed with tempura bits, and topped with spicy salmon and masago. You get plenty of flavour from the sauce that coated the seafood, but on the same token, the tempura bits were quick to get soggy because of it. The roll was seasoned so salty that you didn’t need the aid of any soy sauce here.

My other guest got the “Nabeyaki set”. Tempura udon with a side of sushi. Typically it is 2 pieces of California roll and 2 pieces spicy tuna roll, however my guest is an expecting mother so requested all 4 rolls be made with imitation crab to be safe.

As for the udon, it was pretty standard. Firm chewy noodles in a light broth. She just wished that the tempura was served on the side so that it wouldn’t be a pile of breaded mush in hot soup she had to scoop out.

I had the “Katsu curry set” with breaded pork tenderloin and Japanese curry. I have yet to find a version of sweet Japanese curry that I like more than the place I normally get it from, and it still holds true after this meal. It was okay, but the pork was very dry and there wasn’t enough chunky curry to properly moisten it and the rice. But what I did have I did enjoy, thanks to the additional side of ginger I asked three times for. It was the fresh and vinegary note the dish was missing.

I liked everything just fine, but certainly wouldn’t travel all the way out to Richmond for it again. Especially as any corner Japanese Restaurant offers some facsimile of the above, and some even for less.

My guest who suggested the place was especially excited to share the “Kyoto gion box” dessert box with us. This was an 8 piece dessert set, allowing diners to get a spoonful of fresh fruit and Japanese jelly, house made dorayaki pancake, Japanese pudding, fruits mochi, tri-colour mochi, clear jelly, red bean matcha soup zenzai, and the daily featured dessert. This isn’t made in house, but sourced from “Shota sweets” in Vancouver.

I liked the idea, but didn’t think everything was all that great, even assembled together like this. Although it was very impressive to look at, not everything was as it was pictured on the menu. Cataloged in the order in which we shared them.

I liked the green tea cheese cake with red bean. It was like eating a runny pudding, and along the way you uncovered bits of spongy cake. A nice smooth texture to wrap your lips around until you stumbled upon a sandy red bean.

The matcha jelly had a nice tapioca chew to it, like what you will get in a cup of bubble tea: a nice jiggly texture. There were also tiny wafer balls in the mix, to give you a nice crisp surprise to bite in to.

The Glutinous rice ball with red bean and sugary soup was tasty, the rice balls had a good texture, and I would have liked more of them as is.

I found the green tea jello a little too mild. And I would have liked some cream over it with the fruits, instead of the sugar water used.

The raindrop cake made from agar jelly was my favourite. The most watery you can get with any gelatin. It was only slightly sweetened with syrup and flavoured with soy bean power, making it a great ease into dessert. It almost washes your mouth clean when you eat it.

I found the red bean cake too sweet and the dough wasn’t as light and as spongy as I would have liked it. This version was heavy and overly sweeted. I didn’t have more than a bite.

The strawberry filled mochi with red bean was also very memorable. The best anything filled mochi I have had to date. I would eat globs of that white chewy gum as is or dipped in red bean. It just had the ideal melty texture with the need to only slightly chewy. And it was perfectly finished off with the sweetest strawberry I have ever had.

Last was the mango ice cream. It was fragrant and tasty like artificially sweetened mango. However it also tasted store bought and freezer logged. Though there was an attempt to make it anew with the crispy cereal flakes sprinkled overtop for substance and crunch.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to dine with them, but wouldn’t resist if told to come back. The food was good enough, I just didn’t see or experience anything that would further set them apart from similar concepts and menus. Although if you are looking for decently priced eats and the space able to host a larger party, they have you covered on both. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TOKU
Lansdowne Centre: 221-5300 Number 3 Road, Richmond BC, V6X 2C7
604-285-5877
Toku Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Yugo

We came for dinner, my guest chose our destination having been impressed by the reviews she has read and the photos she has seen. They are located on Main Street, but the decor with its wood meet brick facade feels a lot more like a small bistro in Gastown. A very modern feel to parallel the sophisticated plates to come.

On this Wednesday night the restaurant was full and without reservations we ended up perching up at the sushi bar. Which turned out to be the best spot in the house. I always enjoy being able to see my food as it is being prepared, before I consume it. And at the bar I got to drool over my own serving, and at the same time side eye everyone else’s.

We ordered a handful of small plates to share, started with the “Uni from Peru”. $13 for 3 pieces. Us being at the bar, and the sushi chef being able to see us, he generously gifted us 4 pieces of uni so that we could easily split the serving between 2, with no argument on who would get the odd piece out. And I am so thankful because these were delicious, one was not enough. Creamy, like custard with the crisp cucumber for freshness and texture. Then there was the display component of the dish. Set on an acrylic platform with a light up bulb that you turned on and off or strobed with a remote.

Being bar side also gave us the opportunity to try a sampling of their house made truffled peach. Once again a perk bestowed upon us by the chef himself. It was pickled tangy and you get the truffle flavour immediately. It made for a great palette freshener.

The “Cherry wood smoked gravlax salmon Oshi sushi” comes cloched with smoke. With some theatrics it is removed and what you get is a smokey, torched square of fresh salmon over rice. It really takes the dish to the next level. But this time we had to share the third pieces between us.

The “Beef carpaccio” was thin slices of beef seasoned with chilli oil and tonkatsu sauce. Topped with anori, cured egg yolks, and greens. It was spicy with the peppery greens for freshness.

The “Hamachi aburi Oshi” was another lightly torched fish over rice pressed sushi box. It was spicy and refreshing with the jalapeño, the fried taro topping gave it some crispness, and the miso mayo some tang along with moisture.

The “Scallop risotto” helped to fill us with its heartiness. Hokkaido scallop, black truffle, mushrooms, ikura, honey ricotta, and bonito flakes. It was so thick and creamy that it reminded us of a savoury porridge, comforting with a good mix of salt and textures. So rich that I found myself at a two small bowl maximum. That and there wasn’t enough textures to keep eating it interesting, and this is with me rationing bites of scallop to enjoy with the moisten rice. We had plenty to take home as left overs.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I liked everything we had and wanted more, I just wish I could afford more in one sitting. You definitely get what you pay for here. Quality ingredients and professional techniques that have you tasting the difference. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YUGO
4265 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3R1
604-620-7878
restaurantyugo.com
Restaurant Yugo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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