7900 Westminster Highway, Unit 101
As I think back to foodosophy‘s early days, I can recall a lot more random outings like these where I had no specific eating intention or destination but ended up taking the proverbial “bullet for the team”. While in Richmond dealing with some business matters recently on this particular block, I did so again and ended up ducking quickly into the nearest place to warm up (man, is it ever cold these days!) and get a quick meal rather than seek out something specifically and have to drive around this city which tends to have its own logistical challenges. While I did not engage in a wider round of choices from their menu as I was dining for one (Follow Me Foodie ate other items apparently) at Katsu-ya Sushi, I did end up having much the same kind of experience. Here is my take on things…
A simple setup, I knew immediately that I had to make a quick call. Keep going or step back out (into the cold). The temperature won and I resigned myself to asking for a spot for one. A female server glanced over to an empty table (another was occupied by a group of four men, who seemed to be their on their lunch break, and looked to have been employed at a construction site judging from their steel-toed boots). I received the laminated menu sheet and decided to play it safe and go with one of their set combinations. “A”, I think it was. Strangely, the woman did not say a single word to me when I entered, gave my order and when I went up to the til to pay. I think there was some shyness and language issues involved, so can accept that.
Now I usually avoid some of the stereotypical items that many faux-Japanese places push out in this city of ours, but on this occasion, thought I might go with it as its probably what they know best (and probably make the most of, so it can’t be that bad, right?). Wrong.
The sounds that rang in my ears over the buzz of conversation at the nearby table was a series of clicks, slams, and beeps. Yep, the microwave was being used to its fullest. A full chorus of repetitive electronic signals. I sat there cringing, knowing what was coming my way. Made even worse since it was a completely open “kitchen”. Scary proposition. After all, my combo plate had some cooked things and I began to realize that I should expect them all heated up like only microwaves can do – ridiculously hot, removing any and all moisture that might be contained within. To top it off, there would be fried items that were probably being reheated, resulting in no crispy texture and rather a soggy mess in its place. Urgh.
The tempura (shrimp, sweet potato, carrot, etc.) was as expected – fresh from the nuke box. A complete fail. Though not pictured here (just a nibble on the far left) was some strips of chicken thigh meat that was in a light teriyaki sauce on a bed of very mushy rice. It was worse than what you get at those fast food Edo Japan places. Again, the chicken was clearly microwaved. I’m guessing the rice probably was as well. The cooler items was a side salad, perhaps the best of what I got this lunch hour, and a few rolls. California and kappa (cucumber). Nothing special and miraculously edible to a degree. Perhaps it was all relative. On its own, on a separate day, it could have been deemed poor. Who knows. Near the end of my “meal”, the man behind the counter who had put my meal together came over and asked how everything was. I was feeling too bad for him to say what I really had on my mind and tried to frame it relative to the price and knowing what kind of value I would/should be getting.
I’d like to say I will avoid these random, shotgun meals on the go. Too many inconsistent variables. And danger of getting a real bad meal. But you know, I will probably line up again some day, some place, and feel the wrath again. I am a sucker for punishment.