3105 West Broadway
Tel: (604) 737 0181
In my ongoing quest to explore, document and capture visually the Canadian west coast food scene, I rely on a myriad of methods. For instance, simple random stops alone when I spot a new location while walking or driving around town, listening to recommendations/suggestions from others that I personally know, reading informative online sources introducing places I’ve never heard of from people I’ve never met, and probably the most enjoyable, an invitation from friends/acquaintances to join in on a group meal. With such a diverse system, you can imagine it is quite the shotgun approach; and just like Forrest said about his box of chocolates, “you never know what you’re gonna get”.
On a recent rainy evening (no surprise for Vancouver in the fall), I had the pleasure of dining out with my friends who have a young family, including two little boys aged four and one. It seems the children are fans of rice and in particular sushi rolls, so we headed out in search of a kid-friendly, Japanese food serving establishment in Kitsilano. This part of Vancouver is probably known as a neighborhood with a good concentration of restaurants across a spectrum of cuisines from around the world. There are still many I have yet to try and given the boom-and-bust cycle of the restaurant business, I am sure there will be some that I will never get to eat at before they disappear into the restaurant cornfield of dreams.
We settled on Kitsilano Sushi – I know, not a very inventive name but it served as a bright beacon for us as we scanned the streets for something that met our needs in terms of location and the food being served. Unknown to me, it was a very popular place for dinner, judging from the mostly full dining area as well as a line up at least five people deep who were either placing takeout orders or waiting to pick them up. There were at least four people behind the sushi counter, which you see immediately upon entering the front entrance, as well as some staff whose main role appeared to be shuffling between the kitchen and tables, but with a lower emphasis on paying attention to the immediate needs of eating customers. Either they are in need of more bodies to man the fort, or feel that service should just be about bringing things to tables and clearing empty dishes away. Friendly, personal attention is not to be expected here – think more cafeteria service.
Personally, I am not a fan of maki (roll) sushi. But for many Canadians and young children, I know its quite popular. Maybe with parents, as it seems to be easier for their little ones to eat and rolls enable them to get some vegetable-based nutrients into them as well, it makes for a common selection. The dreaded Dynamite Roll that we ordered, played right into my argument that maki do not often make for good eats. For just minutes after we had placed our first round of sharing orders, two rolls of this were delivered to our table. This shocked us, as it was going to be obvious that these had been made in advance, thus the prawn tempura inside would be cold and the outer crispy layer would be a oily, and soggy disappointment. This was indeed the case.
The Alaska Roll (salmon, artificial crab, cucumber and avocado) was slightly better in terms of taste. Though they did skimp out heavily on the outer dredging with Masago. The rice, as with the earlier Dynamite Roll, was again overly soft for my personal liking. Combined with the pressing needed to make the maki, it just made the rice seem more mushy than it should be.
The Assorted Nigiri set was just average, not much to comment on here. Nothing had a hint of fish-gone-bad though, so passed on that front. I think the high turnover they have here, would help in that regard, no matter what the quality of their ingredient may be.
The boys loved the Assorted Tempura. Not to let this review have to depend on the preferences/pallates of those under four feet tall, I must include that it was not up to my favored standard. The exterior batter was too thick, and deep fried in too hot of an oil – reminded me of the kind of deep fried veggies you get in a run-of-the-mill Chinese buffet. I continue to find it difficult to find a really well done, light but still crispy tempura in Vancouver on a consistent basis. The only exception being the yam tempura that I had at Octopus Garden. They know how to do it right there in my opinion.
For quick, basic, and convenient (for take out) maki sushi, Kitsilano Sushi is a safe call and the price is definitely right and very affordable, which makes it the McDonald’s of Sushi on this road. Though I will not purposely go back as price is not a real huge factor for me when I am craving quality sushi. The previously reviewed Sai-z that sits across the street, is on the opposite end of the cost spectrum. That said, they make an interesting combination in such close proximity, with each carving out a niche and clientele base that seemingly supports both of their businesses.