8888 Odlin Cres
I love sushi. All of us at foodosophy love sushi. I could probably eat sushi every day, if not for a few mitigating factors. The environmental impact of several of the non-sustainable fishes commonly served, and, the price. Sushi just isn’t cheap. It probably shouldn’t be either. As Anthony Bourdain mentions in Kitchen Confidential, there are fewer scary things than the words “discount sushi”.
The more sushi I eat, the less i’m willing to accept substandard sushi. This doesn’t mean i always expect top quality product, rare and exotic ingredients, perfect shari, and impeccable knife skills – the 3 digit price tag can be hard to swallow. However, my expectations for any sushi experience are higher. I want…correction, demand, fresh. A nice, clean environment, some good knife skills, decent rice, and good proportion between neta and shari. Unfortunately, in most restaurants that qualify as affordable, there is usually one or more key aspects missing. That is not the case with Sushi Hachi.
In searching for the best sushi in the Greater Vancouver Region, I often hear people sing the praises of the quality of the fish in most establishments. More often than not, I don’t agree. As i follow recommendation after recommendation, I’m invariably disappointed. I went to Sushi Hachi on an off the cuff comment by smel and fmed on a chowhound post, hoping to find a place that actually delivered on the quality.
Located in central Richmond, the address for Sushi Hachi can be a bit confusing. The restaurant is in Pacific Plaza off Cambie. There is, however, fairly simple and clear signage on the building, and ample parking as well.
The interior is a reasonably sized room that is both simple, and clean. Run by a husband and wife combo, it has a family feel to it. Service is a bit inconsistent, but earnest. They try hard and get to each table as soon as they are able – usually in a very reasonable amount of time.
My expectations for Sushi Hachi were pretty low. After many disappointing sushi meals that purportedly represented some of the best Vancouver had to offer (Ajisai, Yoshi, Blue Water, Octopus Garden, Lime), I didnt have high hopes here. I was wrong.
Standard “test” orders for many of my friend’s is Chirashi. The dish is a great way to assess the quality of a wide array of gu (toppings), and to try a diversity of offerings. At Sushi Hachi, two different orders of Chirashi were placed. The standard order was reasonably good – fish was fresh, rice was reasonable, but without sufficient vinegar, and the quantity was reasonable for the price.
The deluxe Chirashi wasn’t significantly different. A nicer bowl, a few extra pieces of fish. The sashimi gu topping the rice were odds and ends – some with an appropriate thickness, some too thin. I didn’t feel it was worth the difference in price.
While I enjoy the occasional maki, i must confess i generally like it more for the nori than the other components. The fish, and especially the texture of the fish is hidden in the rice. While they are enjoyable, I’m not the best person to be offering an evaluation of the maki. In my case, the rolls were reasonably sized, the fish used in the maki was of good quality, and the roll was firm, but not tight. They were reasonable, but i’ve had much better before. The inside-out maki’s were quite loose and starting to fall apart – and occasionally would disintegrate when dipped in the shoyu. These are some small pet peeves of mine.
What i love most about sushi though is nigiri. The perfect bite sized morsel that delivers fish and rice, perfectly balanced in taste, texture, and temperature excites me to no end. And here is where Sushi Hachi really shines.
First off, their selection of fish is wonderful. Offering more than the stock salmon/tuna/shrimp type offerings, more obscure, but equally tasty fish are available seasonably. Shimaji, Kanpachi, Hirame, Aji, Suzuki – the list goes on. Fresh, these are really worth exploring – as I believe the average person would really enjoy some of the different flavours and textures presented by less ubiquitous offerings.
At Sushi Hachi, they had tremendous offerings of Botan Ebi, Ika, O-toro, Chu-toro, Tai, Aji, Saba, Ikura, Madai, Sake, Uni – the list goes on. All fresh. The quality of the fish was absolutely amazing. I had had a few offerings at Blue Water a few nights prior that were either comparable, or even slightly inferior to what was being served at Sushi Hachi. And Sushi Hachi is half the price.
Each piece was expertly cut – perhaps just a touch large for my personal preference, but well within acceptable parameters. The rice itself was well balanced – great vinegar to sugar ratio. Each individual rice kernel was the perfect temperature, and invoked the sweet, starchy wave of pleasure with each bite. My only complaint with the rice was the occasional shari would be too loosely handled – certainly better than packed too tightly, but the shari should stay intact on handling, not split in half. A small quibble for sure.
I had not had sushi of this quality at such a reasonable price since I had returned from Asia. So i did what any reasonable person would. I ordered seconds. And thirds. And then a fourth order. 32 pieces in all. Maybe not quite as affordable anymore when you’re being a glutton.
Out of all the fish offerings at Sushi Hachi, my favorite was probably the O-toro, which was outstanding. For those wanting to understand what a true “melt in your mouth” tuna experience is, try it here. Of course, sample judiciously – the blue fin is endangered (yes, i’m guilty of enviro-terrorism. I do my best to not eat it, but sometimes, it can’t be helped).
Overall, I can sum up the Sushi Hachi experience very simply. This is the best sushi restaurant i’ve been to in the Greater Vancouver Region (GVR) – better than Tojo’s, better than Blue Water, better than Octopus Garden. Better than them all. The prices are extremely reasonable, the quality, fantastic. Sometimes service is a bit eclectic, but it’s a small price to pay for cheap, high quality sushi. There are many great restaurant offerings in Vancouver, but very few fall under can’t miss. Sushi Hachi is one of the few.