Genji Japanese Restaurant – Burnaby, BC


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…

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Kishu River – Vancouver, BC


Kishu River Japanese Restaurant
3339 Kingsway Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 433-8857

After a long day that culminated in an early evening flight out of Calgary back to Vancouver, I’d completely forgotten that I had promised the week before to meet up with some friends for some last night drinks. In a rush to meet up with the crew, who’s whereabouts were uncertain other than I knew they’d be on the east side, I made a mad dash from the airport into the general vicinity.  Dying for something to eat as I’d had nothing since the noon hour, I headed southeastward on Kingsway until I saw Kishu River on the other side of the street.  Yes, after an uneventful eating experience in southern Alberta, I had a sushi craving that had to be satisfied, no matter what the risk…

Yes folks, another edition of “round and round we go, where we stop, nobody knows”.  Call it the shotgun approach or solo game of Russian roulette, I once again stepped bravely into an unknown establishment with no fear…. well perhaps a touch of hesitation.  The view from the entrance area sparked nothing in me to be pleasantly surprised nor want to head back out the direction I came from.  A couple of booths lined up on both sides of the room, with the sushi bar way at the back, and the access to the hidden kitchen to the back right.  Once spotted by the lone waitress, I was lead to my table and handed a menu booklet.  I quickly asked for some green tea and that was brought to me minutes later.

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Kanpachi Japanese Restaurant – Vancouver, BC


Kanpachi Japanese Restaurant
457 Broadway West
Vancouver, BC
(604) 879-8228

[prefectionist1] I had my eye on this newcomer to the Cambie Village Restaurant scene and I was happy to take up Shokutsu’s offer of grabbing a bite to eat.  With the recent opening of the Canada Line, Kanpachi is in an ideal visual location as it is one of the first restaurants you see upon exiting the the new Broadway/City Hall Station. It seemed like the the Russian cuisine restaurant Rasputin, was transplanted overnight with yet another Japanese restaurant.  I had walked past Rasputin on several occasions but with the dark interior, I was never tempted to sit down for a meal.  Kanpachi provides much improved street appeal and I also heard a few things about the new digs before we decided on it for dinner.  BBQ was on my mind but that’ll have to wait for another day…

Sushi Shoot ($3), essentially seared tuna.

[prefectionist1] It seems that whenever I get together with Shokutsu, we tend to have the same approach to menu selections…  Either we go for the most obscure, or the most traditional items.  My thought process is that if you are going to push the culinary boundaries, go to the extreme; if you go traditional, do it right and have respect for the original creation.

The menu at Kanpachi was straightforward with  everything on the menu being relatively inexpensive.  The first choice for dinner this evening was the Sushi Shoot which was just a fancy name for seared maguro (tuna) nigiri sushi.  On the palate, the ponzu infused diakon overpowered the delicate flavor of the maguro.

It may be my opinion, but searing raw tuna serves to add complexity to the generally light flavour profile of the fish.  With the heavy handed addition of the ponzu infused/soaked diakon, I wasn’t overly sold on the dish.  It wasn’t bad, nor exceptional so I would give it a <shrugging shoulders> “meh”…

[shokutsu] I’m all for light searing, especially when it involves quality maguro (tuna).  I think we were more intrigued by the name of the item more than anything else.  The fish itself was pretty good in terms of its texture and flavour.  On the topping, I’m with prefectionist1, it didn’t do much for me either.

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Sushi Oyama – Burnaby, BC


Sushi Oyama
5152 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 568-1012

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Apologies for another cellphone pictures collection… but I wanted to share a dining experience at this uniquely situated restaurant in Burnaby.

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Nao Sushi – Burnaby, BC


Nao Sushi
7060 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 521-3131

December 2009 re-visit post here

Original post below:

Yours truly has been stretching his food adventure limits of late, by actually driving east of Main Street for a change, and finding some satisfying spots along the way.  Nao Sushi in nearby Burnaby was one of them – actually a foodosophy reader had actually mentioned it to me privately, but I had totally forgotten his recommendation, and only realized it was the same place when I mentioned it after the fact…

Located in a mixed residential/commercial strip along Kingway in the burgeoning Middlegate neighbourhood, Nao Sushi competes with another Japanese restaurant in the very same building a few slots down the street.  From the outside, this other place looked less appealing.   And another reason that drew me into Nao was the Japanese script in the exterior signage denoting kamameshi (which I guess you could translate in English to ‘pot or kettle rice’).  I do not think I’ve ever seen another place in Vancouver offering this dish nor had it in town before, so my interest was truly peaked…

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Uosuke – Shimoda, JP


Uosuke
Shimoda 1-6-8, Shimoda City
Shizuoka, Japan
+81 (0)558 27 3330

As we enter our tenth month of existence here at Foodosophy, I’m reminded of one of the reasons why I accepted Foodosopher’s offer to contribute to the site (besides that fact that I was already experimenting with food photography) –  I’m always on the lookout for new and good places to eat.

Taking a look through the various search terms that bring our viewers to our humble pages, I’m struck by the fact that I must not alone in having this interest.  People are constantly seeking information and checking out commentary and reviews of places they intend to dine at, or perhaps at restaurants they recently have done so and are looking to compare experiences.

As good as online sources, published books, magazines, newspaper articles, etc. are at providing this kind of information, for me word of mouth plays a very strong role in deciding where I go to eat.  Not just anyone’s opinion mind you, it has to be from a trusted source or from people that I feel that I have a similar set of food preferences and tastes with.  Granted we won’t agree on everything, but for the most part we will, and its that comfort level that leads me to continue to rely on these sources.

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BonQuLa Fusion Restaurant and Café – Richmond, BC


BonQuLa Fusion Restaurant and Café
Olympia Center, #165-8460 Alexandra Road
Richmond, BC
(604) 214 0027

BonQuLa Fusion Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Lately, I’ve been giving more thought to and being more patient in checking out some places that I’d been following through word of mouth and online sources – especially those that have recently opened or are rumored to be still working out the finer details of their operations.  This does clash with the need for frequent and new reviews on Foodosophy however, so my balancing act is indeed a difficult one.  And lastly, my time and ability to venture to some of these places that are further away from my home base, also comes into play (the city of Richmond being one such example).

One uniquely positioned restaurant that I’ve been aware of for over a year and was following comments on through Japanese message boards has been Richmond’s BonQuLa Fusion Restaurant and Café. When it comes to Japanese home-style cooking and yoshoku ryori (Japanese interpretations of Western food) in Vancouver, I find getting the thoughts and opinions of ex-pats and foreign exchange students yearning for a taste of home, is the best method of pre-dining reconnaissance that one can do.

For those who have only been exposed to the North American classics such as sushi, tempura and chicken teriyaki, yoshoku is at times difficult to convey to those less familiar as they just simply refer to in their minds the western equivalents.  As such, I hope that places like BonQuLa continue to flourish and help spread the word that there is a lot more to Japanese cuisine that what is commonly portrayed in the media and the countless imitation Japanese restaurants that abound in greater Vancouver.

Early sentiments after it initially opened in June 2007 that I’ve heard were a mixed bag.  Most of the negative impressions that were left were based on the speed of service (both of food coming out of the kitchen and the waiters).  A lot of these complaints were from lunchtime customers, which I know are more demanding given the limited amount of time they have to grab something to eat.  On this visit, I think there are still some remnants with the service aspect, in particular the middle-aged Chinese woman who was lacking some knowledge of the menu and struggling with explaining some things and generally not “all there”  (as well, a bit of an English language issue).  The other server on hand, a young Japanese man, was interesting to observe when he came to our table, as we picked up on those little Japanese service nuances that you get when dining out in Japan.

More recent commentary has been a lot more positive, with many highlighting their satisfaction with being able to get such cuisine and at such a good quality, in Canada.  Even in published interviews, the female Japanese chef (a 2001 immigrant to Canada, graduate of the prestigious Osaka Music College, former piano instructor and graduate of Vancouver Community College’s Culinary Program) herself mentioned that they had some growing pains in their early days, adjusting to operating a business in Canada, with all the uncertainly that comes with entering the restaurant game.  With plenty of time having passed, I decided it was time to give this place a visit, as frankly I’ve not been over enthused by other yoshoku offerings in the city to this point.

Immediately upon being seated, I knew this place was indeed trying something different.  The interesting set menu booklet that featured a group of complete meals (appetizer through to dessert) were handmade, and utilized some recycled Japanese children’s books!  The background music pipped over the speakers was a mixture of slow and uptempo jazz, which fit into my image of the more old school yoshoku restaurants in Tokyo that I frequented.   BonQuLa was more modern in style but at the same time, very relaxed and homey.

With it being January and the start of a new year, mochi (Japanese rice cake) was a welcome sight on the appetizer listings in the main menu, only this had been incorporated with shrimp, and done in an agedashi-style (complete with a flavorful soy-based broth).

Our dining group was split into those who ordered from the main a la carte choices, and one who decided on taking a much more robust set menu selection.  With the latter, which was had the New York Steak as a main, one of the appetizers (the other was a trio of tasting items pictured earlier in this post – the homemade sesame tofu was divine! –  as well as a uniquely plated tuna salad – no image available) was this tray of Assorted Tempura.  Coming with a finely ground mix of matcha and a touch of salt, rather than the more stereotypical bowl of tentsuyu (dipping sauce), it really accentuated the crispy tempura and reminded me of this flavor combination one sees in Western Japan.  Given that the chef is originally from Kobe, its clear she has retained the tastes of the region.

The Ground Beef Steak with Teriyaki Sauce was my main target on this night, knowing its a great example of yoshoku and being at the top of their menu, I figured they had confidence in doing it well.  It came with a bowl of steamed rice, miso soup (light and not overly salty at all), some marinated pieces of konnyaku, simple green salad, and a deep fried shrimp and some onion rings.

The ground beef steak made from AAA Sirloin was beautifully done, a light and juicy ground meat patty, without any excess filler.  Topped with some slivers of deep fried potato and served with some bean sprouts and cabbage on a hot circular plate.

Pictured above is the Omurice Curry with Pork Tenderloin Cutlet.  The curry itself was spicy but a touch on the fruity, sweeter side, and was packed with flavor.  You could tell a load of vegetables had been cooked for many hours to generate that much flavor in each spoonful.   The cutlet was again much like the beef patty, the right level of heat making the interior meat tender and not dried out from overcooking.  Even for a hungry person, the amount of rice in the omurice was  more than plenty.

Perhaps this dish, the main component of the New York Steak set was the only letdown on the night.  I think our fried who had ordered it was expecting a more teppan-style, cooked and cubed, whereas this one was more almost steam-cooked making the meat more moist.  As a result, perhaps it was overdone and the meat itself wasn’t that great to begin with, thus there were some tough parts among the cuts in the hotplate.

Lastly, the dessert that was part of the New York Steak set menu was a homemade Matcha Purin (pudding).  It had a solid creamy texture without an overpowering sweetness (that you find too often in those instant packs to make purin), and was topped with vanilla ice cream.   The rest of us were given a choice of a mango, matcha or coffee flavored jelly, that was served in a mini wine glass, and topped with some vanilla ice cream, corn flakes and whipped cream.

The adage of “good things come to those who wait” certainly held true in my opinion by finally making the decision to dine here.  Our whole table enjoyed the outing and everyone remarked how happy they were with their food.  Luckily we were all in the mood for sharing and thus each of us had the chance to sample a bit of every dish that was at our table.  The balance of flavors really stood out for us, when they needed to be bolder they were, and the dishes that have flavorings requiring a more subtle level were similarly accurate.  The completeness, heart felt effort put into the food put out by the skilled chef was clearly felt by us all, whenever we found a new ingredient appearing or sensed by our palates.  In my research, it did not entirely surprise me that the chef had an non-food related artistic background – whenever I come across such a dedicated “artsy” person, it always seems to be that if you are talented in one creative area, that can easily translate to another.

Despite the name of the restaurant being derived from the Japanese characters contained in the words heibon (hence the ‘bon’) which means ordinary, kuu (hence the ‘qu’) which means eat, and lastly raku (hence the ‘ra’) which means enjoy; there is nothing ‘ordinary’ about BonQuLa.  For outstanding yoshoku, and I still have yet to check out the well heralded lunch items (e.g katsu sandwich), BonQuLa is an excellent location to fulfil your cravings for this often overlooked segment of modern day Japanese cuisine.

BonQuLa Fusion Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon