Ajisai Sushi Bar 2081 W 42nd Ave Vancouver, BC (604) 266-1428
Consistency of quality is an aspect of restaurants that I hold in high regard. When it comes to serving raw food, this perhaps becomes even more relevant and all the more important. Case in point, my somewhat regular routine of having sushi perhaps a few times a month. I suppose I have a couple of standbys that I patronize most often now in the greater Vancouver area.
However among them, Ajisai in the Kerrisdale neighborhood remains tops when it comes to plating things in a very predictable manner – by that I mean the quality of the ingredients, the quality of the knife work, and maybe most importantly, the quality of the rice – all come through as exactly the same as the previous times I’ve eaten here.
Aoki Sushi 1888 W Broadway Vancouver, BC (604) 731-5577
I think it was Vancouver Slop that first wrote about and caught my attention about this little business on West Broadway, along with various bits of positive chatter on other food forums. Again, much like Clubhouse, it sure doesn’t have a lot going for it as far as curb appeal goes. There are days when I’m looking for just some simple, budget priced sushi, which has led me to duck into numerous nondescript spots just to try and uncover a gem. For the most part, I’ve taken way to many hits for the team and have come away disappointed in many a sushi place in Vancouver. So while my interest was up along with my expectations, I tried to keep them tempered in case I was in for another let down…
Now I think I’ve heard rumors of a new management although they have kept everything the same. I think I’d heard a Japanese couple used to own this place, but no longer judging by the other Asian language I heard being spoke by the sole female server and the man behind the sushi bar. After perusing the menu booklet laden with photos, my dining partner and I elected to go with various nigiri sushi and a roll. The latter was something dubbed a Crunch Roll, covered on the outside by tempura bits. Texturally it was surely different. I had one piece, and since I’m not a regular maki eater, I’ll leave my comments just at that.
Itsuroku Kimura, the itamae at his eponymous sushi restaurant Kimura, is a bit of a workaholic. After selling his previous restaurant in Santa Monica (one of a number he has owned in his long career), he moved up to Vancouver to retire.
“But I was bored of playing golf all day, so I opened this restaurant,” he told me on my first ever visit there a couple of weeks after he opened. Jazz – another of his passions – is the theme here at the restaurant. He plays it over the sound system, and his website urges you to “listen to our Sushi that Swings.”
Sanpachi 3803 Calgary Trail NW Edmonton, AB Tel: TBA
Thought it was open now didn’t you?
Well, as of 10pm MST last evening, this is what the front door looked like.
Still covered up with ‘opening soon’ paper noting just the information of a local contractor doing the work inside apparently, I’m not exactly sure when the doors will open to customers as it was difficult to see through the small bit of uncovered space at the entrance in the freezing Edmonton night I might add. With some flurries coming down, this was a quick drive by and shoot, as the trigger finger on the shutter felt like it might just fall off from the cold.
Namoo Sushi 3003 St Johns Street Port Moody, BC (604) 949-1017
In an attempt to bolster the registry of locations outside of the usual haunts in the GVRD, a quick lunch stopover in Port Moody while on the hunt for other sweet goodies took place that led me here, to Namoo Sushi. Funny sounding name indeed, but namoo means tree in Korean (and is also the symbol I see on their business card). The location is in a commercial building along the main thoroughfare of the old section of this quaint city. Parking was available just outside.
My visit took place on a weekend, roughly after the 1pm time frame. A few tables were occupied but it seemed they were known/friendly with the staff. I saw a drop in customer come get some take away as well. Service was polite and attentive before and during my meal, I just ran into a bit of lack of attention when I tried to pay (stood way too long at the register with her seated in discussion with the chefs just meters away). I’m not sure how busy this place can get, and it was hard to judge how the wait staff would cope when it busier.
Genji Japanese Restaurant 7533 Market Crossing Burnaby, BC (604) 433-9710
My first experience dining at this restaurant that is situated in the relatively new commercial shopping area on the southern edge of Burnaby along Marine Way was mixed to say the least. My brief recap that I’d posted as a regular post on Urbanspoon was as follows:
A newish-looking and spacious interior, perhaps a bit too large as near the entrance its quite barren and when there are few customers, it just feels really cool and library-sih quiet. Had an assortment of roll sushi with a friend who enjoys that kind of thing. Wasn’t horribly bad until our off-the-wall pick of one that had some white sauce. Had a bit of an annoying mix up, mainly due to language barrier with our server, that dragged on much longer than we thought it should as it was an communication mistake (on their part) and though we thought they might ding us on the bill, they didn’t. Not enough shines thru with the sushi to get me to come back.
Now I’m at times a forgiving fellow. Even when it comes to places to eat that I was less than 100% satisfied. Part of returning is to be fair, and also to see if things had improved at all. This time I went solo, as I did not want to burden a dining partner as I had the first time. For sushi in this part of town, choices are somewhat limited, so Genji Japanese Restaurant has that going for it, for now…
Katsu-ya Sushi 7900 Westminster Highway, Unit 101 Richmond, BC (604) 232-9770
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.
Kafé Kalik 4969 International Drive Orlando, FL (407) 248-0889
A short reprieve from the business at hand led me and a partner to hit one of the larger outlet shopping malls in this wildly spaced out city. As such, some quick shopping was our main focus and grabbing a quick meal before we had to return elsewhere wearing uncomfortable business attire under the sunny skies was secondary. Out of pure convenience, we popped into Kafé Kalik, who’s signage claimed they were a “taste of the Bahamas”. While I have never been to the Caribbean, my Spanish speaking pal has many times so I had to twist his arm to join me – while we both knew we were likely in for some underwhelming wannabe-ethnic cuisine.
Our suspicious were confirmed as once we were seated in a very empty dining hall near the bar side, I spotted a connecting sushi bar that was tied to the business. I think in spite, my dining buddy actually ordered a sushi roll as his main meal. With this Japanese and Caribbean fused sushi roll menu that included things like tempura conch, and curried tuna among them, it kind of reminded me of the eclectic mix at The Lions Den Cafe. I won’t even go there as I’m not sure it deserves any comment. Our server was a cheery and quite outgoing Latina woman, who was overly interested in pushing the special items on the lunch menu. I hardly paid attention as the first mention was some kind of trio of mini burgers. Not exactly unique.
500 W Broadway
Normally, I would just dump the poor pics shot with my cell phone and not even comment on an unforgettable meal like this and deny it in my mind that it ever even happened, but I just had to share this unique experience with our readers. I’m sure you’ve read online on other food blog sites, of the growing “taking photos in restaurants” issue that occurred with the burgeoning crowds of people interested in documenting their eating experiences on the internet and the proliferation of affordable digital cameras. I have heard opinions on both sides of the debate and concur and disagree with many of them, such as “its distracting to other diners”, “it steals the chef’s art”, etc. Honestly, everyone has an opinion on the subject and in the end, the proprietor certainly has the right to set the rules in their establishment as they please. It might be heavy handed or draconian in some cases, but as long as its under their roof (owned or leased), I figure they have a right to tell me their guidelines when it comes to photographing food, though I am sure there are those who say that if its the customer who is paying, they should own the privilege. I won’t digress further, but you are free to comment on it if you so desire…
But in this case at Sushi Bang, that I dropped into for a simple take away meal after spending the day on the beach volleyball courts at Kits, the “reason” I got from the waitress who ordered me to stop taking photos – that I was doing very casually since I was waiting for my order and frankly had nothing better to do – just perplexed me. While checking some text messages and lying my phone on the table, I angled it upwards to snap a shot of the wall facing me. Figured I could use an interior shot if I ever decided to post about this, which was quite low in terms of possibility given the quality of the offering here. Its no place that readers need to bother with frankly, as its so run-of-the-mill and the kind of the place you can find just about anywhere in Vancouver. When suddenly, I heard a strong voice from the side, coming from a female waitress saying I had to stop taking photos. I’m surprised she even saw me doing it, as I wasn’t even looking at my screen and was actually aiming blind up at the wall. She must have had her eye on me for some reason, which I guess makes sense as I was the only customer this early summer evening.
There seemed to be some buzz in the local community surrounding this newly opened sushi-ya on the city’s east side, not traditionally an area that one associates with the best Vancouver has to offer in this genre of cuisine, so I added it to my list of places to visit upon returning from my latest summer Asiaadventures. This meal at Kimura took place on a quiet weekend afternoon in the hopes of taking in the reputed laid back, jazz-infused environment that I’d heard about through the grapevine and local blogging community. With a few tables and seats at the bar counter occupied, it was just right in terms of ambient people noise and atmosphere as I gingerly slid my jet-lagged body into a chair for a meal with one of my most hardest-to-please sushi eating associates.
I won’t repeat what others have gone into in terms of the proprietor’s background and restaurant experience as its been laid out more than enough times for those that want to learn about it. In any event, its a welcome arrival from my perspective, and hope others in the city make their way here to take in a careful (e.g. not rushed) service and meal with some quality ingredients and preparation. Just make sure if you do, to keep your eye out for this place as its not the easiest to spot if you’re coming from the other side of the street as its nestled subtly into a building that houses some other businesses, with plenty of natural foliage (for as long as the leaves survive anyways) of mature trees further blocking the view.
403 North Road #203
Things have changed since I last visited Matsuzushi. For one, the combined space with the small grocery item store has been downsized. Though there is a definite partition that divides the two, it still retains its very casual and almost cafeteria-like ambiance with minimal decor and fuss. For those unfamiliar, the system is a pay-first one. After placing your order at the cashier and paying for your meal ahead of time, find a seat and your food will be brought out to you – no need to rush back to the counter for pickup.
Outside on their handmade signboard on this day, I noticed a listing of specials. As I’m apt to do, I decided to try something on it and given the hot weather, the summer hiyashichuka (cold Japanese noodles) seemed perfect. There seems to be a growing number of places in town that feature this dish when the warmer weather arrives, which is just fine with me. For something so simple, its nice to see the variety of combinations and therefore flavor profile in each one of them. Search around the site to find some previous commentary on this Japanese dish.
Guu in Aberdeen
4151 Hazelbridge Way
I’ve come out and said it beforebut my personal desire to explore the full realm of the Vancouver izakaya scene is not exactly the strongest. Again, its not that they are bad or a terrible bastardization of this unique genre of dining out found in Japan, but that the context is lost on me and my memories of many izakaya outings overseas has ruined me and thus nothing will ever compare. I’m sure I’d say the same for other specific segments of popular national food from around the globe if I had the similar depth and breadth of experience such as say in the diverse Liguria regional cuisine of Italy or the so called ‘rainbow cuisine’ that is reputed to be available in Southern Africa. Any transplanted replica outside of those regions would just seem, well, how can I put it… “off”?
I suppose I should relax this hesitation I feel whenever I hear the names of well known joints such as Hapa, Kingyo, and so on. Believe me I’ve tried. And a pair of visits to the Guu chain should be proof that I’m not all that stubborn in my beliefs. This particular post is about the Aberdeen location, found in that shopping mall in Richmond best known for drivers in the parking lot who feel that there is nothing wrong with holding up a long line of cars just to secure a precious parking spot near one of the mall entrances.
505-329 North Road
Itshoni (in my eyes, a misspelling of the romaji for the Japanese word ‘together’) emerged from the space previously occupied by the Blue Sea Seafood Restaurant, and is serving up a mix of Korean and Japanese cuisine. It is conveniently located in this high traffic shopping complex that is home to many other places where one can a meal – many of which reported on here at foodosophy.
The interior has received a noticeable makeover with most of the former enclosed spaces and booths removed and replaced with dark wooden tables and chairs. The floor looked re-done as well, in addition to the similarly colored wall treatments and refreshed with new art hanging on the walls. The mural on one of the side walls (not pictured here) really stands out. The place was filled well with both Asian and non-Asian customers (this table of nine got filled up by a big group of women minutes after we were seated nearby).
Sushi Bar Zipang
1010 1 Ave NE
Its unfortunate, but even those places that were once held in good regard – and for sushi in a place like Calgary – for me, it was Zipang out in Bridgeland – times can change. It used to be the best of a mediocre lot. ‘Big fish in a small pond’ for sushi kind of thing. On a recent return to the southern Alberta city, I made my way down to their sushi bar again for a quick early dinner, hoping that I could get an acceptable showing from them as in previous years…
Inside it was pretty packed, busier than I usually remembered it being. I guess word has gotten out that it (was) decent. I did notice that the guys behind the counter were different from the fellows who served me in the past – younger and seemingly less experienced. Families and groups of friends seemed to be the general clientele on this weekday dinner session and there was a good buzz in the room of conversation. However, once some folks departed the lack of any kind of soft toned music playing in the background reduced the place to an almost eerie environment, which could probably use some improvement.
1065 Columbia St
New Westminster, BC
Hayashi Sushi is located in a newish commercial shopping area off Columbia Street that cuts through this riverside town. Nearby are New West stalwarts such as Burger Heaven and Cockney Kings Fish & Chips (the subject of a future post in the foodosophy backlog). It is a mid-sized, Korean-operated, Japanese cuisine restaurant, with takeaway options. For this visit, that’s exactly what I did.
After placing my order, I waited in a nearby booth and was offered a cup of hot tea to pass the time. The restaurant started filling up with other dine-in customers while I waited, so seemingly is a frequented place by locals. With only one man behind the sushi counter, my large order of various pieces of nigiri sushi took some time to prepare. Some of them are pictured below, but it was not the entire lot, as by the time I got it to our group for eating, some were more anxious than others and couldn’t wait for me to finish taking pictures. :)