Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Sushi S

We decided to try out Sushi S because it had a 3.9 rating on Zomato and was on our way to Costco. The decor was simple and it was pretty busy for a neighbourhood restaurant (i.e. nothing else around). 


I have to admit that I was initially a little disappointed that it was Korean-run because I had googled "Authentic Japanese" when I was looking for something to eat that night. But we gave them the benefit of the doubt because some other Korean-run sushi places have been good (i.e. Bella Sushi in Kits).


I started with a Seared Maguro (right) and a Seared Toro (left). I liked the addition of vinegar because it gave it a fresh taste; however, it was a little too much vinegar. It would be better if the vinegar was lightly brushed on the dish or just sprinkled on instead of pooling at the bottom of the plate. I did like the addition of the shredded daikon on top though, which gave it a bit of texture.


B had the Seared Hamachi (left) and Seared Sake (right). He agreed that there was a little bit too much vinegar, but it didn't overpower the smokiness of the sear for him like it did for me.


Of course, B had to order the Tako Sashimi. It was good, but a little soft in the middle and not as dry as we had hoped. It could be a little crunchier, but we are not mad or turned off by it.


Then we each ordered 6 more nigiri each. I only ended up with 5 (top row) because the server told me there was Kanpachi when there really wasn't any left. From left to right, I had the Toro, Big eye, Hamachi, Hotate, and Ikura. The Toro was decent, and not too fishy. The Big Eye didn't have much flavour, but the texture was quite interesting. The Hamachi was a little fisher than expected; it tasted quite metallic. The Hotate was very cream and had a good balance of wasabi between the rice and the scallop. The Ikura was also a little fishier than expected and not as salty as I had hoped (to help contrast the fishiness).

B had the Unagi, Saba, Hokkigai, Ika, Big eye, and Hamachi (bottom row). The Unagi was okay, it had a mild smoke flavour that it could use more of and good texture. The Saba was oily, salty, and fish in a good way. The Hokkigai was fine and nothing out of the ordinary. The Ika had good texture. He agreed the Big Eye had interesting texture. The Hamachi didn't have a lot of flavour for him.


Because the server didn't tell me they ran out of the Kanpachi, they gave us two Seared Tunas on the house. It had more smoky flavour than the other ones I tried and the combination of the sauces really brought out the smoky taste.


We thought we would try out the Kanpachi Kama since it's "limited", but were kind of disappointed. The texture is like chicken, which was good, but it wasn't grilled properly and was kind of soggy.


As the Kanpachi was lacking in the saltiness and oiliness that I craved in a Saba Shioyaki, we decided to order one. Unfortunately, as you can see from the picture, it lacked the proper grill of a Saba Shioyaki. It looks and tastes more like it was toasted. The meat was tough and not flaky like it normally is. It also didn't have the saltiness I craved either. It was rather disappointing as I've had awesome grilled mackerel at Andamiro and in Seoul. I thought, even if you can't make an authentic Saba Shioyaki, Korean grilled mackerel is still tasty.

Up to the Saba Shioyaki, we were okay with the restaurant. Everything was decent enough and service was good. But we just can't look past the failed Saba. We will likely not return. That being said, if you're in the neighbourhood and craving sushi, it's worth visiting. It could be a good "go to" for people in the neighbourhood.

Sushi S Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 11 July 2016

Maruyama

So my favorite go-to sushi restaurant, Kimura, closed down and another sushi restaurant opened in its place: Maruyama. Apparently the chef used to work at Blue Water in Yaletown.

Decor is about the same, the benches were changed, bar table was changed, and the seating painted white. Other than that, everything was pretty much the same.


We started with the shisoleaf tempura, which was really just fried tempura batter because the lead was so thin and light. It was a little too much and made me feel nauseous. It was also served with a cold sauce, which kind of helped cut the richness of the batter.


Of course I couldn't resist ordering the Grilled Saba. Which was pretty good. It didn't really feel as rich and oil-forward as the one from Isami at first, but after eating more (along with the shisoleaf) it was a bit nauseating.


We all ordered the $25 Omakase, which comes with 7 pieces of nigiri. Then we added two orders of 2 Blue Fin O-Toro nigiris. It came with a flounder, two types of toro and several other random fish I have forgotten the names of. The second one in the second row (I think it might be Yellow Tail) was very crunchy, but I also had the taste of something like eating butter.

I thought the normal Toro was actually creamier than the O-Toro, even though it was half the price. I thought the O-Toro was quite fishy and didn't leave a good taste in my mouth. If I had to order again, I would probably skip the O-Toro.


Overall the fish was properly prepared. The rice was a good small size. I enjoyed the fact that the cheaper Omakase didn't include Tamago, which I dislike, a lot. I like the fact that they even had a cheaper version of Omakase, which you don't normally get anywhere.

I will likely return with B despite the price tag. But I'm not sure how often I would visit as it is quite expensive. It's worth at least trying once.

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

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Gallery 2.0

The AMS finally opened another Gallery in the Nest - honestly, they should've done that in the first place instead of trying something fancy. Don't mess with what works!

Obviously it looks better and cleaner than the original Gallery, but the layout is awkward for what they do. Since they don't have any "servers" waiting on particular tables / sections, they request that you take a menu and order at the bar before finding yourself a table. Kind of like eating at a food court. The POS was really slow, so the line up to order built quite quickly. After waiting in line for a bit, they opened up a second line for orders so the guy behind us jumped the queue and ordered first. We ordered a little after that and found ourselves a table. The manager was quite on the ball and brought us cutlery right away, but we didn't get water until we asked for it when the food arrived. There wasn't a station for us to pour our own water like we used to be able to at the original Gallery.


I had the Po' boy with a side salad. The Po' boy was pretty good. The chicken was tender and moist and the breading was still crispy despite being sandwiched between sauce and tomatoes. The salad was only lightly dressed, which was perfect for me. The only downside to the salad was the huge slices of pepper that doesn't really fit in your mouth in one bite. Whoever prepared it needs to work on their knife skills.

My friend had he fish and chips. She said the fish was well seasoned and well prepared. The fish was moist and cooked well and the breading was crispy. There were a couple negatives to her plate: the fries were too soft and didn't have any texture; and the plate only came with mayonnaise and ketchup, no tartar sauce at all.

The food came out relatively quickly after we ordered and a couple guys came to check up on us during the meal, so service was generally better than expected. I would probably come back here over koerner's simply because I can actually finish a meal and get back to work on time.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Isami Sushi

Went to Isami because Google Maps showed it was the nearest restaurant with a high rating. Reviews also said it was pricy and family run. Both are true. However, given that I've recently stated I would pay more for good food, I still stand by that.

First up, Saba Shioyaki (grilled mackerel). The exterior was perfectly charred and the fish itself was perfectly grilled. The meat was moist and was oily in a good way. Only seasoned with salt, it really brought out the natural taste of the fish. At first I thought it was so small, but because the fish is so oily, it was the perfect size for two people.


Next, perfect Tako Sashimi. It wasn't slimy, but dry and crunchy; it had a nice clean fresh taste. Sliced into the perfect size, you can eat it in one bite.


The Jo Sushi combo came with 9 nigiri and a half tekka (tuna) roll. The eel and clam were so tender, they came apart in one bite. The red snapper had a great crunch to it.


The Nami Sushi combo came with a couple less nigiri and had the sweet egg and sweet egg nigiri.


In general, the fish tasted and felt fresh. Nothing was too fishy. A couple negatives would be: the slightly soggy seaweed, which made it tough for me personally to chew (it was fine for B); and the large block of rice that fell apart easily. Pictured below is the sweet egg nigiri which had the smallest piece of rice, which I enjoyed.


Overall I had a good experience. It was a little pricy so we won't be going TOO often, but I would recommend and return occasionally. I wish they would fill up our tea more often and without being asked to, but service was friendly and quick.

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

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Old Vines Restaurant at Quail's Gate

We went to Old Vines because our friend got engaged there and we thought it would be a special place to return to. We had received a call the day before to confirm the reservation, but when we showed up, we were told the table wasn't ready and that we would have to wait 15-20 minutes. They gave us free tasting at the Wine Shop, and I appreciate the gesture, but I would appreciate getting my table at the specified time more.

We finally got our table, after spending about 30 minutes at the wine shop. I told the hostess / manager that we were at Quail's Gate as part of a stagette and that the bride-to-be actually got engaged at the restaurant. She said "Oh really" and just ignored me. At other places, they would say congratulations, or thank us for coming back. She came off quite snooty and insincere.

As my meal, I decided to have two Lunch Appetizers instead of the Main Courses. The Main Courses just looked more like a dinner item to me: really heavy. I had the Elk Carpaccio and Farm Salad. 


The Elk Carpaccio was quite delicious, the elk was sliced perfectly: even and thin. When you have it altogether with the greens and the onion aioli, it combines perfectly in your mouth.


The salad was also quite successful. The vinaigrette was a perfect balance of sweet and sour and really brought out the sweetness of the beets, which ended up tasting like an earthy honeydew. They were perfectly cooked - wasn't too crunchy and wasn't too soft. Each element on the plate was good on its own and also together in one bite. The cheese was fresh and bright.


As dessert, as soon as the server told us one of the flavours of the day was "Lavender Honey," I forgot everything else she told us. Whenever I hear Lavender, I have to eat it. The ice cream was really well made - churned perfectly and you can still see the flecks of Vanilla. At first I thought it was a little too sweet, but as soon as I took a bite of the butter short bread, it really balanced. It normally comes in a three scoops, but we had it divided up into three ramekins to share.


Overall the food was delicious and the view very nice. However, given that there are so many other restaurants in the area also selling delicious food and nice views, I thought Quail's Gate would be a level above in terms of service. Unfortunately, the service was mediocre, and I'm not just talking about the snooty manager / hostess. Our server had entered a wrong / extra item in when taking our order and brought it out to us. She apologized later when she realized we didn't order it. However, when the bill came, it was still in the bill. I expected more and was disappointed. I would recommend visiting with low expectations - at least the food was good - but I likely won't return.

Old Vines Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

KRAFTY Kitchen + Bar

We went to Kelowna's "second best" restaurant on Saturday night for dinner. I'd made the reservations in April as I was planning this trip. When we arrived, the hostess says she couldn't find my reservation and asked me which app I used. I told her I used Guestful and she says, "We don't use that app." I told her I clicked on it from their website and showed her the confirmation email. THEN she says, "Oh, we used to use it, but we transitioned to a new app in April." Then she offers us the patio. I don't understand why she couldn't do that in the first place instead of accusing me of not making reservations. Then she went out to "check on the table" and came back saying the table is ready without actually taking us or directing us there. We walked towards the door to be stopped by a busser who abruptly asked if we knew where our table was and then took us there.


We ordered three appetizers to share - originally it was supposed to be four, but they ran out of the chicken wings. We settled for the Butcher's Paper, 7 Layer Dip, and Espanol Fries.

This is the 7 Layer Dip, which contained tuna pate, seaweed, black bean, and served with quinoa rice chips. The dip was very salty, but not to the point where you would feel sick. Paired with the excessively bland rice chip, it was a very well-balanced bite.


The Butcher's Paper comes with 2 oz of housemade charcuterie, bread, and picked grapes. The charcuterie lacked seasoning and tasted a bit like the deli meat you get from the market. The bread was burnt and bitter. We really enjoyed the mustard, but it wasn't enough to save the dish.


The Espanol Fries was basically potato cubes smothered in tomato gastrique, buttermilk vinaigrette and (a lot of) paprika. It is a lie to call these fries. Although it was flavourful with an interesting tinge of sweetness. It was overwhelmed with paprika.


As my meal, I ordered the Shafty Burger. I ordered this because I thought that this restaurant was opened by Kaila Klassen from MasterChef Canada and her dream was to open a burger place. Turns out she wasn't a part of the restaurant at all - I wasn't her fan, but the show made it seem like she can make a good burger. Luckily, this is a farm to table restaurant and they grind their meat in house so I was allowed to order my burger medium. The burger patty was quite juicy, and perfectly cooked. The chips that came with it didn't taste anything special. Overall, I wasn't impressed with the burger.


Two of the other people at my table ordered the Braised Pork Belly. I was told it was very delicious and tender. The Kale had soaked up the broth and made it very taste as well. The only downside was that it was too large. I have been to restaurants (like Cin Cin) who offer half portions of food. Perhaps KRAFTY should consider this for the future.


Another two ordered the Octopus Tagliatelle, which was apparently "just okay" and also had too much paprika.


Of course, we had to have dessert. We had the Earl Grey Panna Cotta, which was more like a custard than a Panna Cotta - it didn't set at all. The flavour was good though, it tasted very strongly of Earl Grey.


Negatives: The hostess was really rude - she didn't even apologize for the mix up with the reservations. The restaurant running out of the chicken wings and housemade ceaser mix signifies how poorly managed it is. The mix apparently takes three days and they ran out the day before. My question is why they didn't make more when they started running low. 

Positives: Our server was very nice and on the ball. We were there for about 3 hours and she never rushed us or anything. The food was decent - not the best that I've had, but decent.

Overall, a decent place. It gave the impression that it was overrated, so I probably won't return. I would like to try new places and if I were to return to a place, I had a better experience at Waterfront Wines.

KRAFTY kitchen + bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 10 June 2016

Naruto Sushi

We went to Naruto as it was on the way home and highly rated in Zomato. I don't know when this happened, but B and I have turned into sushi snobs.

The place was small and filled out quite quickly. We took that as a good sign. It was debatable.

First came the Takoyaki. The spheres were uneven and there were not enough flakes on top, so the Takoyaki lacked the movement you would normally find on it. The filling was good enough though. It was a mix of puréed and diced Tako, which gave it a good texture. The sauce was also decent.


Along with the Takoyaki was the Assorted Sashimi Platter. It came with 3 pieces tuna / salmon / sockeye salmon and 2 pieces of Tako / Hokkigai. The tuna was a bit fishy for our tastes, like it's been sitting out for too long. The Atlantic Salmon was fine. The sockeye was too tough. The Tako was a bit slimy in the middle. The Hokkigai was also just fine.


Next came the Nigiri: chopped scallop, ikura, unagi, toro, and Saba. The chopped scallop didn't have the silky pearly texture I normally like. It was rather mushy. The ikura was very fishy and didn't have the salt I craved. There was also very little of it and so I could see the rice underneath the roe. The unagi was very tough and I felt like I was eating sandpaper. The seaweed on all three were tough and unpleasant to chew on. The toro was decent enough. The Saba was quite fishy and felt like it was cooked. All three of the unagi, toro, and Saba could have had half the amount of rice.


Last came the Crazy Tuna Roll, which contained tuna tempura, cheese, cucumber, spicy tuna, Jalepeno and fish roe. This might have been Naruto's saving grace. It was the best dish of the night. The textures worked well together and nothing was overpowering the other.



Overall, I won't return because it's quite mediocre and I'm willing to pay a bit extra for better food. I would recommend it to that old uncle looking for a cheap and filling meal, and maybe those people who aren't adventurous enough to try sashimi and nigiris and just prefer to have rolls all the time.

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

Friday, 13 May 2016

Hime Sushi

We wanted to try Hime since it was on our way home.

First we had the Deluxe Sashimi, it says there's 20 pieces, but we're pretty sure there were more. The sashimi were good. The uni was a little stale, but still better than most. The Saba was especially good, had a bit of lemon, and not fishy at all. The Tako was prepared well- well sliced. The rest was normal.


Next we had the Toro Battera, which was good. We loved the Jalepeno on top. I thought the rice was kind of dense and the overall bite was not melty enough.


We also got the Aburi Sushi Combo. It came with one of Toro, Tuna, Salmon, Sockeye, Saba, and Chopped Scallop. The chopped scallop was REALLY good, that was the only thing that melted in my mouth. It was creamy and fresh. Everything else was also very good. There was a nice balance of smokiness and creaminess from the sauce.


Of course, no sushi place visit is complete without the usual J & B Club roll (slalom and cream cheese) and nigiris. The great thing about the roll was that you can actually choose between salmon, tuna and ebi. It was well balanced, with a good amount of cream cheese, and you can still feel the texture of the salmon. The nigiris were also very good. The ikura was served at the perfect temperature and popped in your mouth. The seaweed was still crispy. The unagi was well seasoned and well cooked. LOVED.


I would definitely return and recommend. The service was great-professional and quick.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Sushiyama

We were craving sushi and Sushiyama was on our way home so we stopped in to try a restaurant that had a 4.0 rating on Zomato.

  
Run by Koreans, the decor and atmosphere was quite bland and functional. The tabletops were a bit sticky. Nothing really echoing a Japanese run restaurant at all.


Having a special board was neat and let's you know what's fresh and in season. It makes life a lot easier by limiting what you order, given the extensive menu.


B hasn't had tonkatsu in what seems like a lifetime, so he immediately knew what he wanted. The tonkatsu was good, exactly what he wanted. It was a little on he tough side, but the flavour and crispness was all there. It came with miso, rice and salad.


I ordered a bunch of nigiri sushi. Above, from bottom to top, we have Hamachi Toro, Toro, and Shima Aji. The Hamachi Toro was a pleasant surprise. It was very velvety fatty and not fishy at all, with a hint of lemon. The Toro was not as fatty as expected. The texture tasted very much like normal Tuna, but at least it wasn't fishy. The Shima Aji had very good mouth feel, a bit of crunch and tastes not at all overwhelming like mackerel normally tastes.


From bottom to top again, we have the uni, ikura, and unagi. The uni was the fourth nigiri on the dish that I ate. I think I made a tactical mistake. I should have eaten it first because the seaweed sat for too long and became very chewy. The uni itself was fresh and well prepared - it wasn't too fishy or overly mushy. It was creamy but still had a bit of texture. The seaweed on the ikura was similarly tough, and the salmon roe itself was not as fresh as I'd hope. It didn't "pop" in my mouth and had a stronger fish taste than normal. Lastly the unagi was okay. It wasn't extraordinary, the sauce was fine. I don't hate it, but I was hoping for a melt in my mouth kind of experience, so I was left a little disappointed.


B had the Hokkigai and the Torigai. The Hokkigai was fine. The Torigai was a little bit chewy. They were acceptable; nothing exceptional.


Of course B had to order the Tako Sashimi. It was also just fine. It wasn't mushy or fishy - like some places that don't prepare them well. But it wasn't exceptional either. It was a little on the chewy side. It didn't have the nice crunch that good Tako has. Although the slices were thin, they were a bit uneven - indicative of some poor knife skills.


Lastly, of course we always try the Salmon Sashimi, although I'm not sure why anymore. This salmon was so bland I kind of left feeling like I don't like salmon anymore. Also, the pieces on the left were colder than the pieces on the right, and left my teeth a bit numb. They weren't terrible, but they were so underwhelming, I was a bit angry about it.

Overall, I think Sushiyama has the 4.0 rating because of the price. Some of the fresh nigiri were good, but it didn't make up for the underwhelming nature of everything else. I left the establishment feeling a little nauseated, so I likely won't return. B would recommend it if you're looking for cheap sushi, especially cheap nigiri. I personally would rather pay a little more money for better quality food. The service was prompt and friendly, but sometimes that's just not enough.

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