What better way to get back into the swing of blogging than with a review about a Japanese place?! Kibune Sushi! This little gem is located right next to Hapa Izakaya, another stellar Japanese restaurant, though the two are worlds apart in terms of their menu items and entire atmospheres. Despite the fact that they are both great, they seem to co-exist beautifully, neither one putting the other out of business. This is probably because each one attracts different crowds – or at least, people would choose one over the other based on the type of dinner they’re looking for. Want a cool, upbeat scene with more fusion food and sake – a place to feel a part of the “in” crowd? Go to Hapa Izakaya. Want traditional Japanese with a more serene, quiet atmosphere and classic sushi bar? Kibune Sushi’s for you.
Emme, Pita, and I enjoy going here for dinner – though it doesn’t seem to be open for lunch very often (supposedly due to staffing issues). The prices aren’t too bad, although obviously the location seems to dictate that prices be a little steeper in this area. The setting is fantastic, and the food is pretty great, too. The service is sometimes inattentive when busy, which they always seem to be (a good sign!), but otherwise extremely friendly and welcoming. The booths are all very cozy – though limited in number – and the place oozes the feel of a traditional Japanese restaurant you might find yourself in, in Japan. The setting is also quite nice, as it is right by Kits Beach.
The food is decent. Although I really do like Kibune Sushi, I have to admit that I would go to Hitoe Sushi or even Hapa Izakaya nextdoor if I wanted really *amazing* food. The food here is good, but I haven’t had anything yet that’s blown me out of the water, and I’ve tried quite a number of different items from the menu. I’m sure I’ll eventually come across a dish here that’s truly a ‘must eat’!
In any case, we started off with edamame on this particular visit. Pretty standard – warm and sufficiently salted, for the most part. I’m a big fan of Japanese pickles, so I also got some assorted pickles as an appetizer. Again, standard. I’ve long since come around to the realisation that the pickles are going to be pretty identical, regardless of the Japanese restaurant, unless they’re pickled in-house and not just purchased from the same Japanese grocer or supplier as everyone else.
For my main course, I got the yosenabe, which is promoted as the healthier option. That may be true, but I have to admit that I’m never really a fan of anything that lacks flavour just because it’s supposed to be “healthy”… The broth had little to no taste – I thought it might just be water. I was disappointed that there was so much tofu and not as much fish, since I ordered it thinking the description of having lots of fish would be literal. In any case, it wasn’t bad… I was just a little disappointed, or maybe I had my hopes up too high. It must’ve been served a while after the pot had been boiled, because the salmon – the first thing I ate – was completely rubbery and overcooked when I picked it out. And there was only one piece of salmon! Yeah, my critique for this would definitely be: too much tofu and too much “noodle”, not enough actual fish.
Pita went with the beef teriyaki… one of his, and one of Emme’s, staple meals at Japanese places, since neither of them like sashimi (such a shame!). The presentation was very nice, but the sauce was super watery and the beef, while it may look somewhat impressive in the picture, was actually not a very good cut. It was comprised largely of blobs of rubbery fat, and wasn’t very appetizing. The sauce wasn’t too flavourful, also.
Emme treated herself to pork katsu, which was probably the redeeming dish in this entire meal. The breading was perfect – not too thick, and not too oily. We’ve previously encountered pork katsu dishes that are actually like 80% cheap breadcrumbs fried in oil, 20% pork. This pork katsu was not like that at all; there was plenty of pork, and the breading was crunchy and crisp. Like I said – not too oily, and not “over-breaded”! Again, nice presentation with the shredded cabbage and lemon slice. If I were to recommend anything here, I would probably recommend the pork katsu. The sushi here, which I’ve tasted on other occasions, is indeed good – just a little pricier and not particularly any better than sushi at your average Vancouver sushi joint downtown.
I do like Kibune, despite all I may say! I think we’ve been here four times or so over the course of a year and a bit, and some visits are definitely better than others. Some of their specials are quite good, too – try the stuffed shiitake mushrooms if they’re on the blackboard for the day. We mostly enjoy coming here for the ambiance; the intimate and private booths make the dining experience quite pleasant and allow you to actually talk to your fellow diners! (Sometimes that’s an issue at other restaurants… Not always, just on occasion!) Aside from its great location and amiable ambiance, though, there isn’t anything extraordinarily special about it. Perhaps I’ll be eating those very words after I’ve tried more of their sushi, though! (I would’ve already done so, if not for the prices of the sushi and sashimi in comparison to their other dishes, which makes those other dishes seem like better deals…) Still, I would choose any of my other favourite sushi places over a visit to Kibune, if I were looking for really great sushi and not just a nice dining ambiance.