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

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Sushi by Yuji

We've heard and read good things about Sushi by Yuji and decided we had to give it a try. We saw that usually they're quite busy, but we decided to risk it and go at 5pm, when it opens, without a reservation. The sign on the door said "Open" so we walked in and all the tables had a reserved sign except for this one table for 2. We were lucky, I suppose. As soon as we sat down, one of the servers flipped the open sign to "Open for Reservations only". Only able to seat about 18-20 at most, I don't think they necessarily need to take reservations and still do well.


Wasabi and garlic was served separately. I suppose we could have asked for more, but I did wish they gave us more to begin with given that we ordered 18 pieces of nigiri. That being said, the wasabi was very fresh, it still has flavour despite the burn.


First up was the chopped scallop and ikura gunkan. It was smart to serve it first, so the seaweed doesn't get soggy and tough. The scallop was really cold, but creamy and delicious regardless. The Ikura was sharp and oily, just the way I like it.


Next up, I had the Tuna and Ika, B had 2 Ikas and 2 Takos. The tuna just dissolved in my mouth. It was not fishy at all, but it was a little on the cold side.

The Ika was very creamy. It wasn't hard to chew because of how small it was.

The Tako was sliced very thin, which gives it a different texture. It wasn't crunchy or chewy, but soft.


You may recall from the post on Shima-Ya and my complaint about the portion of rice and how large it was. I really enjoy the small rice portion here at Sushi by Yuji. Much smaller and more manageable.


Next is the Saba. It was really good; it was fresh and clean. Despite the saltiness, the flavour still came through well.


I ordered the Toro, B had the Hamachi, I had the Engawa, and B had the two Hokki. I thought the Toro was less creamy than the tuna, which is odd because it's supposed to be more fatty. The engawa had a nice crunch to it but very bland otherwise.

B thought the Hamachi was really good and "It melted in (his) mouth in fresh flavour." The Hokki, however, was very chewy and he got sand in one of them. It had an unpleasant texture and was very gritty.


The last nigiri was the Aji. It was very lemony, and did not have the same fishy-salty flavour as the Saba. We didn't like it as much, but it was still good.


We also ordered the Grilled Kanpachi Kama. The sauce was sweet, but not disgustingly sweet. It was enjoyable. The topping / rub was also very well developed. It had better flavour than the one we had at Sushi S, and cooked better, being more moist. However, we still prefer the salty and heavier flavour of a Saba Shioyaki.


We also saw that they had a big selection of Sake, so we ordered a bottle to be served hot. It was very smooth, too smooth, too easy to drink. We tried to portion it and make sure we had enough to last the whole meal. For some reason, the bottle couldn't keep the sake hot enough. It's weird, because when we had it in Kyoto, our sake stayed hot despite being poured out into a cup.

Overall, we had a good experience. We would recommend it, but we're not sure if we'll return because we really like our grilled mackerel, and they didn't have it.

Sushi by Yuji Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Shima-Ya

Shima-Ya was highly recommended by one set of friends and not by another, so we decided to visit it ourselves.


Run by Japanese, I believe the restaurant only sits about 20 at full capacity. Needless to say, I saw the owner turn away a few customers and a few of them decided to order take out instead. While we were waiting, there were also many phone calls for take out.


As usual we started with a Tako Sashimi. I must say the chef is quite talented at running the place. Despite the volume of take out orders, he got our sashimi out quite quickly. The Tako was good. It had a good crunch to it, and was creamy without being slimy.


We noticed they have Battera sushi, so we decided to order the Saba since they don't have Shioyaki here and we wanted our saba fix.


Unfortunately, it did not blow me away. The ratio of rice to fish was not well balanced and so the flavour of the Saba was lost in the rice. I ended up halving the amount of rice in order to taste the Saba.


They had a few nigiri combos, so we ordered two deluxe combos, which comes with nine pieces of nigiri and a tuna roll. From left to right top: tuna, ika (squid), hamachi (yellow tail), saba (mackerel), salmon, and Hokkigai (clam). From left to right bottom: tamago (egg), ebi (shrimp), and ikura (salmon roe).

The fish was generally prepared well. The tuna was very creamy and the ika texture was one of the better prepared ones I've had in a while. The hamachi was kind of bland, but the Saba was as expected: oily, salty and fishy in a very good way. The salmon was solid, but the Hokkigai was quite tough. I wanted to like it because it was the first time I've seen it sliced into a pocket to hold the rice, but it was just too tough. The tamago was surprisingly pleasant- I'm usually not a fan. The shrimp was sweet and crunchy. As far as shrimp goes, it was quite good. The ikura, though pleasant (not fishy), was not salty enough. The tuna rolls were fine.

Overall we enjoyed the food put out in front of us. The food was worth the price. However, I was a bit disappointed in the ratio of rice to fish in both the Battera and the nigiri. For the nigiri, I basically just kept eating half the amount of rice. The amount of wasabi spread onto the nigiri was quite good though.

We don't think we will return simply because we had a really great experience at Isami, who also had much better prices.

Shima-Ya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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 creamy 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 leaf 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 the 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 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