The name alone should tell you something about this place. Much like all the pizzerias (or “pizza parlors” as our friends south of the border are apt to call them) that try to outdo their rivals by putting a series of letter A’s onto the beginning of their business name in an attempt to get to the front of the line when it comes to the Yellow Pages, the generically named Sushi Vancouver is just trying to get noticed. After a pair of visits, I can confirm now that unfortunately, I think it will be for all the wrong reasons.
My latest visit was on a Sunday, typically a day when most Japanese restaurants, and a lot of others, close their doors for a day of rest. Having a craving for some sushi though, this did not deter me, and hence, my stop at Sushi Vancouver after seeing their open sign up. My first take out meal there a few months back when they first opened did not leave me with a memorable impression. I figured, it was worth giving another try to see if anything had changed, with the expectation that this is just a grab-and-dash sushi establishment. Quite frankly, my determination to grab some sushi could have led me to just about any open door that was serving this up on this day. I know, I must learn to be more selective and know when to put a stop to my tunnel vision, as I’ve been hurt more times than I care to count.
For a multi-person sharing order, my choices were made from nigiri (hand-formed sushi) choices, two here, four there, etc. These ranged from the low end of 99 cents each for the shake (salmon), maguro (tuna) and tamago (egg) to the $1.60 for the ikura (salmon roe). By the way, the most expensive nigiri on the menu is the mirugai (geoduck clam) at $3. In total, I think I had just over thirty individual pieces.
The restaurant itself was empty, as it was the first time I had walked inside. Placing the order was relatively pain free as it was just giving some numbers to each piece. Since the man behind the counter was obviously the same person who would be making it, was looking for some work to do, I figured he’s be snappy about it and get right on it. Guess again.
From talking to his wait staff, to playing with his kid behind the bar, opening up this container and that, and searching for things in the refrigerator, I am not sure if he was truly interested in making my meal or was just treating the thing as a bothersome task. With some loud Chinese ballad playing over the speakers, he then proceeded to start singing as if he were alone in the shower, which broke the last straw of my patience. With his back to me the entire time, I began to really get worried about what exactly he was doing. His arm movements suggested that he was not really smooth with creating the nigiri, each action a painfully, slow step. The rhythmic motion of creating the shari (rice ball) and placing the cut piece of neta (topping) on top and forming the nigiri, I just couldn’t see him doing naturally. Part of me thinks the way he has set up his counter, not allowing customers to openly see his working style, suggests that he is lacking confidence in his abilities.
After what was about a forty-five minute agonizing wait, during which time no other customers came inside, I was finally given my order to go. The bad taste that was left in my mouth after this brutal service experience, made me wonder if I would have the appetite to eat my portion of this meal.
First glance, things did not “look” horribly bad. Until I got to the toro (fatty tuna) pieces. Some strange red strings were hanging from the fish slices from some of the nigiri. It looked like thin blood veins to me. Shocking to see this, as one piece was just covered/embedded with them. How the so-called chef could serve these kinds of pieces to a paying customer is beyond me. To add to my dismay, the rice was so compactly formed with each piece, that it took an extra effort to chew through. I really dislike it when sushi’s rice is so hard that it might as well been pressed down in a work worker’s vice. The rest of the toppings were unremarkable, just average to slightly bad.
The only saving grace was the relatively generous amounts of tobiko (flying fish roe) and ikura.
My fellow diners to whom I brought these boxes of “sushi” gave me enough dirty looks to ensure that I won’t be going back ever again.
3416 West Broadway
Tel: (778) 371 1337
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am to 10pm; Sun, 12pm to 9:30pm