Sunday, 1 January 2017

Koko

We went to Koko because the chef we took cooking lessons with had recommended it and it shows up as Japanese owned and run online. It was surprisingly close to us as well.

We sat at the sushi bar, as we like to do when we try out new sushi places. The sushi chefs were very well trained and very fast. First we had the saba battera. We thought the saba was very well prepared and very fatty, as we enjoy it. I thought there was too much rice and that it would be better with two-thirds the amount. B thought it was perfect.


I ordered a bunch of nigiris to try. From top to bottom, we have unagi, uni, ikura, ika, aji, and hotate. The aji, uni, and ikura were labelled as "market price," but there were no boards that ever displayed what the market price was for that day. That was one issue I had because one of them turned out to be more than $5. Another issue I had was the uni didn't taste like it was properly cleaned - it tasted a bit muddy still. The ikura was not salty enough, but other than that everything was fine. I also thought the proportion of rice too large, but B thinks that it was fine given how large the slice of the fish was.


B had the Special Assorted Sushi. It came with 10 pieces of nigiri for the price of $22, which was a pretty good deal considering my 6 pieces came out costing more. From top to bottom, he had tobiko, ikura, ama ebi, ebi, tai, hokkigai, saba, hotate, salmon, and tuna. He said they were all fresh and really liked their treatment of the saba. Where some places may over-pickle their saba, which makes it kind of dry, this had good texture, a good amount of saltiness and oiliness, and not fishy at all.


We decided to try their tonkatsu, since that's B's favourite dish and they didn't have any saba shioyaki (my go to). We were also not impressed with their treatment of the squid - they were cut into rings and didn't have any tentacles. The tonkatsu was solid. The breading held together well and was very crispy. The pork itself was tender and juicy. The sauce had a nice balance of flavour.


We decided to add an order of hamachi sashimi because (a) they actually have it in their menu and (b) we were very impressed with the chef's knife work and wanted to see more of it. As you can see below, the pieces of hamachi are sliced evenly and smoothly.


Generally, we were impressed with the restaurant and had an enjoyable time there. We liked how the sushi doesn't fall apart like some places do, which speaks to the skills of the sushi chefs. The negatives, aside from those mentioned above, were that the server / hostess doesn't seem well trained and didn't notice when we tried to flag her down to order more and they only served one type of hot sake.

We would recommend it for those in Vancouver who don't want to travel to Burnaby or Richmond and would definitely return to try their udon, as we noticed they have quite the extensive selection of noodles. As for sushi, I would prefer going to Seto's, still.

Koko Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 9 December 2016

Bao Down Gastropub & Raw Bar (Olympic Village)

I've referred to Bao Down's service before in my post on the Flying Pig. It's great to finally see how it works at the restaurant itself. But first, the decor. It had a nice rustic yet industrial look to it. Raw.


I especially liked the reclaimed wood, but it makes me think of this article about burgled barn wood because of interior design trends.


We started with 2 dozen oysters (they were $1 each during happy hour). They were very well shucked. I only got one piece of shell in the dozen that I ate. We especially liked the jalapeno ginger sauce that came with it. The Joyce Point ones were the best in our opinion. At least we *think* they're "Joyce Point" because the server who brought us the oysters didn't know what they were. It was only later, when the bartender / oyster shuck-er walked by and heard me talk about it that he pointed out what they were. This happened the second time we visited the restaurant as well. No one knows what they're serving except for the bartender / oyster shuck-er.


Of course we had to try their baos. Mini baos were $4 each during happy hour. We tried one of each flavour (from left): Bao Chicka Bao Bao, Vevo, and YVR. Our favourite was the Bao Chicka Bao Bao because it had some texture in it and the lemongrass flavour was prominent. The Vevo and YVR weren't that great because they had no texture at all. It was mush in a bun, but the flavour was good. I especially liked the peanut flavour in the Vevo.



Wings were half price and we chose the Spicy Thai flavour. They were well fried and the sauce was well balanced, though not spicy at all.



We liked the Bao Chicka Bao Bao so much we ordered one more for each of us. Unfortunately, the inexperienced server (referred to above) brought it to the wrong table and we waited quite a long time before following up with another server (who was serving the table next to us). She asked if we were sure it didn't come and then told us it will come soon. I then saw her approach the inexperienced server to tell him he brought the baos to the wrong table.


Overall, the food was good. The service was so-so. Our first server (the bartender) was quite attentive and knowledgeable. But then he kind of disappeared after we ordered the last two baos and the place got a little busier. It would have been more professional if he told us, "Hey, it's getting busy and I'm going to get behind the bar now. So and so will now be your server." We had no idea who to flag down when we wanted to order more food.

The staff need to communicate with each other better, or find a way to educate everyone. When the server brought us our oysters without knowing what they were, it was unprofessional. He was obviously not as well trained since he brought our food to the wrong table too. We later overheard him bringing more food to the table next to us, food they are sure they didn't order.

We will likely only return during happy hour (which we have done already) and recommend that people visit during happy hour as well. It's not as busy so they'll serve you better.


Bao Down Gastropub & Raw Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tokyo John

Tokyo John, another Korean-run Japanese restaurant. It was kind of odd, because it was located a couple stores north and then we thought it was closed. But we eventually found it.

The decor was nice, I liked the details on the walls.


B couldn't turn down a Tonkatsu, so that's what he ordered. He said the meat was very tender and the breading was nice and crispy. The sauce was very well balanced as well. All in all a good dish.


I saw a picture of the flaming unagi roll (not sure if this was the correct name) and thought it looked cool, so I ordered it. I don't think you can see the flames in this picture, but it was burning for a good 3-5 minutes. It burned a little too long, in my opinion. I was just sitting there staring at the flames for the longest time and just wanted to eat.

The taste was fine. The parts at the end were a little "burnt" tasting, but otherwise, it had great texture (from the tempura) and the flavours were well balanced.


B had to order a Saba nigiri, of course, but he accidentally ordered the ebi nigiri instead of the ika. He said they were well prepared but the Saba wasn't rich enough.


Overall, it was a solid restaurant. It's a little difficult to get to for us and parking may be an issue, but we'd recommend it to people in the area.


Tokyo John Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Manna Sushi

We went to Manna Sushi because it was close by and my parents said good things about it. The decor was subtle and nice, but not quite the rustic style of a Japanese-run restaurant. That was the first hint it's not Japanese-run.


We started with the Angry Jalepeno which wasn't angry at all. There was barely any spicy taste to it. It was uninspiring and sad looking.


Next, B ordered the Assorted Aburi Nigiri combo because it's always nice to have the chef choose their best stuff to present to you. Not here, apparently. All the nigiri look the same and there were a lot of common fish on the dish. It was hard to discern what each piece was because they were drenched in sauce.


Of course, B has to order Tako Sashimi. As you can see, the knife cuts were not great. It's not the worst we've had, and at least it's not slimy.


Lately we've been on an Ika Karage (sic) binge (ever since Yuji's), so we decided to try it here. Ika Karage is a misnomer. They should really call it calamari, because that's what it is, substitute the mayo instead of the tzatziki. The texture of the squid itself was tough and the breading was so oily it was nauseating.


I ordered a bunch of different nigiri's. The chopped scallop was bigger than expected, but the ikura was sadly lacking (look at how flat it is) and very fishy, like it's been sitting in its juices for a long while. The ika was very tough and the amaebi were sadly too tiny. I don't remember much about the hotate but I do recall the Saba was over pickled. It was like I was transported to a Swedish restaurant. The Toro was fishy and not that creamy and the negitoro was fine.


Overall, the experience was not worth recommending or returning. We would prefer walking those few extra blocks to Hime than to come back here.

Manna Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Clubhouse Japanese Restaurant

We were craving Japanese food so we thought it was about time we tried the restaurants in our new hood.

First we stopped at Toko, because Google said it was a Japanese Restaurant and it was heavily advertising their Asahi. After we walked in, I noticed the decor seemed more Chinese than Japanese. Lo and behold we looked at the menu, and saw wonton, chow mein, and a bunch of Chinese dishes. We left.

Then we thought we should try the yakitori place down the road because we walked by it once. The host greeted us, asked us how many (2), and said wait a moment. He proceeds to walk around the restaurant and then grab two menus and set them on a table. Then he walks around the restaurant some more, serves a couple dishes, and tells us to wait 5 more minutes. It struck me as odd until B heard the host say something about happy hour ending soon to a couple patrons. So basically, he didn't want to seat us until 6pm, when regular dinner begins. Why didn't he just say so? Or just seat us and wait until 6pm to take our order? We left.

Finally we thought maybe we should try the Clubhouse since we drive by it all the time and it looks pretty cool from the outside. We walked in, and it strikes me as one of those restaurants on Restaurant Impossible that used to be good and then everyone just gave up trying to make it better.


We started with the Assorted Sashimi. We didn't expect it to be good, but we didn't think it could be this bad either. The knife cuts were noticeably sloppy, the tuna was still frozen, and the salmon had no taste at all. 


The Sweet Jane vegetable tempera roll was better than the sashimi but not that great. The rice was overcooked and soggy, the seaweed was tough, and he yam tempera was undercooked and had a bit of crunch to it still.


Next we had the Chicken Yaki Soba. It tastes like ketchup. B said he's had bad food and he keeps eating it, very rare does he not want to eat something and this was the dish.


The Squid okonomiyaki came smelling like it was burnt-and not because of the smoky fish flakes on top. It tasted a little burnt too, and soggy, and generally had very little texture. We found four squid rings in total. If the chef would only chop them up and divide it evenly throughout the pancake, it would have more texture and we wouldn't notice how little squid there is.

The only redeeming factor was that the owner came to pick up the dishes and saw that we didn't finish the okonomiyaki and asked if we didn't like it. We told her it was bad and she offered to refund us. We didn't want to be those customers who complain to get free stuff, because then our complaints won't be taken seriously. She thanked us for our feedback so we decided to tell her how bad EVERYTHING was. She seems to take it all seriously so I appreciated that. We probably won't return, but I appreciate the effort.

Clubhouse Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 23 September 2016

Yuji's from Japan

We decided to visit Yuji's because it was well reviewed and comments were that they were authentic Japanese.

We made reservations for 5pm on a Friday night and were told that there was a two hour seating limit because it was the weekend. When we arrived the restaurant was empty. So if it's ever busy when you want to visit, just go back at 5pm.


I loved the decor, it was like a little sushi hut on the side of the road.

Started with some sashimi and sushi omakase.


The sashimi omakase was $25 and for two to share. It came with: 2 Big eye tuna, 2 Yellowtail, 4 Sea bream, 2 Amberjack, and 2 Toro. They were all good, but really, really small. The big eye in particular was a lot creamier than when I had it at Sushi S. The Yellowtail was really strong and oily. The toro was less creamy than I expected.



Then we each had 1 order of the sushi omakase, which was also $25 each. From left to right: Big eye, Sea bream, Yellowtail, Flounder, Striped Jack, Young Yellow Tail, Scallop, and Spanish Mackeral.

The yellowtail, in my opinion, tasted a lot better and more balanced with some rice to tone down the fat and fishy taste. I barely tasted any fishiness. The flounder had a very interesting texture- I can't decide if I should say it's creamy or crunchy. But it tasted like butter. We liked the firm texture of the Striped Jack, but the taste wasn't anything special. The Spanish Mackeral was a lot milder than expected. It was served with a bit of ginger and onion on top and that was all we tasted.



The rice to fish ratio was on point and the temperature of both served correctly. But the size, price, and speed made us miss Seto in Richmond and kind of encourages us to maybe brave Richmond traffic and try more Japanese restaurants there.

Because we were still quite hungry after the sashimi and sushi, we ordered a couple more hot dishes.



We tried the spicy curry calamari, which is just fried calamari, lightly tossed in salt and curry. I could smell the curry as soon as it arrived. With no batter, it was more refreshing than calamari at other places. The texture was chewy and tender at the same time and the salt and curry flavour were very well balanced. Nothing overpowered the other. It was really good (and not spicy at all, despite what the dish is called).



We also had the grilled beef tongue- which caused the table next to us to cringe. But honestly, this was the best beef tongue I've ever had. The beef was sliced so thin and was very tender. The beef flavour was strong and though you can taste the salt and pepper, it did not overpower the meat at all. The only down side was that it was so such a small plate I felt like I didn't have enough.

Together with our bottle of hot Kome Dry Honjozo sake, our bill came out to $125. Although the food was good and we enjoyed everything, we thought the price for good sushi was better at Seto- maybe rent is cheaper in Richmond. Tim Kang lookalike sushi chef was also a lot quicker and seemed more skilled. We will likely return to Richmond before returning to Yuji's, but for those who don't want to travel across the bridge because they want to enjoy a bit of sake, I would recommend visiting Yuji's.

Yuji's from Japan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 22 August 2016

Seto Japanese Restaurant

We went to Seto because Zomato said it was the closest thing to where we were with good reviews. It was almost all reserved by the time we got there (almost 6pm) unless we wanted to sit at the sushi bar, which was exactly what we wanted to do.

The three sushi chefs were all Japanese, which was a great first sign. Also, the youngest one in the middle reminded me of Tim Kang (love).


B and I ordered 7 nigiri each. Left row: 2 ika, Aji, kampachi, albacore toro, and Tako. Right row: Saba, 2 salmon toro, and 2 hamachi toro.

We ate them in this order so that will be how we describe it.

The ika was very well prepared and so creamy and crunchy at the same time. It was in no way tough to eat.

B said the Tako had a good, firm, and crunchy texture.

The Salmon toro was creamy. In my opinion, salmon usually had no taste, but this has a lot of flavour to it.

The Hamachi had fish taste but it was not fishy, if that makes sense.

The Kampachi had a subtle flavour and was very smooth.

The Albacore toro had a strong tuna taste and falls apart in your mouth.

B said the Saba was good and had the strong taste he wanted, but not fishy. It was very well balanced.

The Aji was subtle but good.

Generally the rice had a good balance of vinegar and the fish was fresh all around.


We also had a chopped scallop nigiri and ikura nigiri. The chopped scallop was very creamy, but the flavour of the scallop itself was not overpowered by the cream sauce. The ikura was as good as it gets here in Vancouver, so I still miss the ones I had in Sapporo.


(They served a good amount of wasabi and ginger separately)


We also ordered a hot sake to go with our meal. It was $28 for the bottle, and despite the really strong smell, it went down really smooth.


Instead of the Saba Battera, I thought we should have the Anago because I have had good experiences with eel and less good experiences with the Saba. Here, the eel was well proportioned to the rice and it had the perfect amount of sauce. The textures were on point and the temperature of the rice perfect.


Lastly, we can't not have the Saba Shioyaki if they have it, and good thing we did. Best one we've had yet in Vancouver (even better than Isami). It was oily and moist but the skin was still crisp. It was well prepared and served with a generous amount of daikon to help take some of the grease away.


Overall we had a great experience. The bill came out to around $110, after tip it was $130. It might be considered expensive but we thought it was well worth it, considering we also had a sake.

The chefs were really good. Especially Tim Kang (that's what I'll call him). He was putting out nigiris and rolls at the same pace as the chef we met in Sapporo and they were perfect. The older chef directly in front of me was blocked by the fridge door, so I didn't see how good he was. According to B, he was so impressed by the way he sliced the fish to get all the fish without the skin perfectly.

We will definitely recommend and return.

Seto Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Kissa Tanto

Our friend suggested we should try this new place, which was nominated as the top restaurant on enroute.

The decor gave off a prohibition / speakeasy kind of vibe. It was pretty cool.

I had the Oasis on the Ginza to start while I waited for the rest of the party. It's basically a mojito served in a margarita glass, pretty tasty.


As an appetizer, B and I shared the King Fish Crudo. It is basically raw fish drizzled with oil and lemon, because that was all we could taste. I thought the king fish would have a stronger saltier taste, but the fish itself was rather bland and overpowered by the oil and lemon.


Then B and I shared the Tonkatsu because we were curious what Tonkatsu at a fancy restaurant would be like. We couldn't really taste the pork, just that there was something salty. We mostly tasted the squid. The black mustard was quite good though.


Overall the food was good, but it didn't blow me away. Usually if the food is good, I would be too busy trying to taste all aspects of it. Here, I was more concerned about the conversation at the table. Also, normally at any restaurant we would be full sharing an appetizer and an entre, especially if the entre said "sharing plate". Unfortunately we were still quite hungry when we left.

We won't recommend not return.

Kissa Tanto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato