Archive for category West Vancouver

Milestones Grill and Bar (West Vancouver)

Aside from White Spot, I’m usually not one to visit those sort of “chain” restaurants, such as Earl’s, Moxie’s, the Cactus Club, and so on and so forth. But being stuck for lunch one day at Park Royal – and not wanting to visit White Spot, for once – Emme and I visited the Milestones over there instead. I used to go there when I was little, and always order the French toast without the raisins… only to have it delivered to me, every single time, with the raisins. I am not a dried fruit person. Given that repeated bad experience, I think I must have resolved to never visit Milestones again at some point in my early years. Nevertheless, every restaurant deserves a second chance… especially when it’s been years since the last visit.

Lunch Duo – 1/2 Chicken Spinach Asiago Ciabatta with a side salad

The restaurant was completely dead when we walked in at about half past noon on a Saturday, which was rather odd. Thanks to that, though, we managed to get a great table by the window – perfect for the sunny day it was. The booths here are huge and comfy, so that’s definitely a plus! The nice thing about most Milestones is that they all have quite a nice ambiance inside, and have a classy but hip feel to each restaurant. The music was pretty low-key and pleasant. To top it off, our waitress was quite friendly, although service throughout the meal suffered; Emme and I repeatedly found ourselves asking for our small glasses to be refilled with water. (I’m always tempted to just steal the whole water pitcher, so that we don’t have to keep bothering the servers.) A lot of the waiters and waitresses were a bit fixated on watching the flat-screen TVs, which would explain the inattentive service.

Ambiance and service aside – how was the food? Did my dish suffer the same fate as before with regards to raisins?! Fortunately, no. This time around, I went for the Lunch Duo (I would have gotten the trio, but was not interested in the soup). The sandwich portion I requested was the chicken spinach asiago ciabatta – which has everything the name indicates – and a fairly standard salad on the side. It was… decent. That’s my other beef with restaurants like Earl’s and Milestones: the food is decent, not mindblowing, and kind of expensive for what you get. Anyway, it was a good sandwich. The ciabatta was fluffy on the inside,  had a nice crisp exterior, and at least tasted freshly baked. If I could change anything, it would have been to try to keep the temperature of the dish consistent. As it was then, the chicken was cold, the cheese was cold, and the spinach was hot. They were also super skimpy with the cheese. I think it would’ve really helped to have the contents either all hot or all cold – otherwise the sandwich seems kind of… confused. My personal preference would’ve been to have to whole thing hot, so that the cheese could melt and the unseasoned chicken’s bland taste could’ve been masked a little better to let the cheese flavour shine through more. The salad was your average, run-of-the-mill side salad, so not much to comment on there. It tasted relatively fresh.

Watermelon and Roasted Beet Salad

Emme apparently wasn’t that hungry and just got a bit salad. More specifically, the watermelon, feta, and roasted beet salad. If anything, this was probably the highlight of our visit, surprisingly. There was a lovely lemony vinaigrette drizzled on top with a hint of chardonnay, and a couple of candied pecans sprinkled over it. The feta was, I think, goat feta and was amazing. Should have asked who their supplier was, because the cheese was the highlight for me. There were fried tortilla strips, too, but personally I think the dish could have done without them. They just seemed kind of misplaced, and left a weird, greasy aftertaste in the mouth. The roasted beets were also delicious and subtly sweet, and the watermelon was crisp and fresh. Thumbs up for the salads at Milestones, at the very least, if the quality and flavour of this one are representative of the rest.

All in all, it was not a bad experience, per sé; it just wasn’t a particularly memorable one. I’d personally rather spend my money somewhere else, but Milestones is a fairly good option for dining if you’re in West Vancouver. The food is nothing remarkable, but it is tasty, filling, and the prices aren’t necessarily unreasonable. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit Milestones, but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it, either.

Ambiance: 4

Food: 3.5

Service: 3

Value: 3

Overall: 3.5

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Olive & Anchor

Quite some time ago, Emme and I brought someone I shall just call Techie up to Horseshoe Bay… purely for the sake of doing something different, and to get out of Vancouver. (Does anyone else ever feel like they just need to get away from the city?) It wasn’t a particularly great day, but the weather was fair enough and it was a good time to escape from the ho-hum routines associated with being stuck on the West Side. We were stuck for where to go for lunch, not particularly wanting to visit the Boathouse (the overall quality in all of the Boathouses seems to be taking a nosedive over these past couple of years – and I’m saying that based on more than the one visit I wrote about before) and settled on Olive & Anchor since the menu seemed promising, offering something each of us would be interested in eating.

Pulled BBQ Chicken Burger with Gumbo

It was empty when we stepped in and were seated. As I said, it wasn’t that nice of a day and on top of that it was a weekday so only a few people were milling about the village. I think only two or three other tables became occupied over the hour or so that we were there for. Anywho, the ambiance is quite nice and the restaurant is nice and bright, thanks to all of the large windows that allow you to look out over the bay and water in the distance. (The restaurant is farther away from the water than the Boathouse, which of course is pretty much sitting on the water, but the setting is still pleasant.) Fewer diners makes for less noise, which I’m sure everyone can appreciate, though I get the feeling that this place comes more alive at night and on Fridays, as it is equipped with a bar and the interior gives off a classic “pub” sort of feel to it. Since there were so few people, you’d think the service was amazing (what with three people waiting on a relatively empty restaurant) but… it really wasn’t. The servers talked to each other the entire time, making it hard to get their attention sometimes and making it take waaaayyy longer than it should have to actually order in the first place. The waitress we had was a bit catty and impatient, but at least our food came pretty quickly after we ordered. (Well, again, that should have been a given anyway seeing as we were probably their first customers of the day!)

Special of the Day: Mexican Beef Wrap (with a side salad)

Techie surprised me by going for the Pulled BBQ Chicken Burger… He usually goes for beef! The menu describes it as having nacho cheese melted on top, butter lettuce, tomato, sautéed mushroom, crispy onion straws, avocado salsa, chipotle aioli. Anyway the flavours were good! The sauce wasn’t too sweet – more “smokey” and BBQ-appropriate, in my opinion – and the chicken was tender as opposed to chewy (which would be characteristic of being overcooked, of course). The chipotle aioli added a nice extra kick and dimension to the burger, although the avocado salsa was scant and thus unnoticeable. The “crispy onion straws” were nice and crispy, as the name suggests, at the beginning… but became soggy pretty quickly, which was weird. I thought they could have been more generous with the cheese, honestly… Other than that, Techie enjoyed the Gumbo he chose as the accompaniment to his burger (it was the special of the day), although said it didn’t taste strongly of anything but tomato. Emme thought the cilantro on top looked rather… aged. I would have to agree. But other than that, it wasn’t too bad at all.

Emme went with the special of the day, which was a Mexican-themed Beef Wrap with plenty of hot, gooey cheddar cheese and chopped green onions and red peppers and supposedly salsa and guacamole. The beef was really great and the star of the wrap; it was beef chuck, kind of like what I got at Meat & Bread a while back and cooked just as well. If there was guacamole in the wrap, though, it was hidden really well – or maybe the cheese just… outcompeted it in terms of being tasted at all. Although the presentation was great to begin with, the wrap did fall apart a bit as Emme ate… which is fine, as long as you’re not wearing white or on a date or something. She had one of their standard salads on the side, with the only comment about it being that the carrot shreds were a nice touch, as were the scatterededamame. Everything tasted fresh.

Chicken Tikka Masala

As for myself, I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala, which you might think is stupid since we weren’t at an Indian restaurant (and perhaps that’s why I got edamame thrown on top of my dish, haha). BUT! And that is a big ‘but’… this was truly a great dish. The masala [sauce] was really flavourful and sang of fresh spices and was just altogether awesome. I wouldn’t say it was 100% authentic tasting, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious. The chicken was cooked perfectly, like it was for Techie’s burger. My only complaints were that I wished it were just a bit spicier (but this will obviously depend on how spicy each person likes their food!) and that there were more cilantro. (I asked our waitress to bring more cilantro after she served us our lunches, actually.) The shredded carrot on top was kind of weird, but… evidently the chef likes to put carrot shreds on top of lots of stuff, since I saw other dishes coming out of the kitchen (for other diners) that also were topped with shredded carrot. The brown rice on the side was pretty bland and actually wasn’t basmati rice, which would have been more appropriate in my opinion, and could have benefited from being cooked in some spices like turmeric (for flavour + presentation) and ground cumin or something.

Cucumber Raita, Pear Chutney, and Pappadom

Some other stuff came with my dish, too: Cucumber Raita, Pear Chutney, and Pappadom. Nothing to write home about, really. The pear chutney was my favourite of the two “dips”, and wasn’t overly sweetened, which really allowed the pear flavour to shine through. I thought they could have done something to make the raita stand out a bit more – maybe add an acidic ingredient and freshly chopped cilantro – but as it was, it was mostly just plain yogurt with a tiny bit of cucumber mixed in. Maybe I would have been more appreciative of it had my dish been spicier, hah. It was my first time having pappadom and this one was super crispy, but tasteless unless used to scoop up some of the curry (umm are you ‘allowed’ to use it for that?) or chutney. Guess that’s what it’s there for: scooping stuff.

Overall it was a good dining experience. I would go back. My biggest complaint of all – aside from the rather poor service – would definitely be the prices. Yes, the food here is good and maybe even great, but the food isn’t so outstanding that the prices are justified. Then again, I suppose you are also paying a bit for the setting when you go to any of the places that have some sort of view of the water… Even if people go for the food or the ambiance, though, the service could really use some work.

Ambiance: 4

Food: 4

Service: 2

Value: 3.5

Overall: 4

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The Boathouse (Horseshoe Bay)

As a child, my parents would often bring my brother and I here for lunch over the summer, on warm sunny days when it was a treat to sit outside and marvel at the beautiful view of the water and mountains. It seems that all of The Boathouse restaurants have lovely views, and that’s probably one of the things that draws people to the restaurant. I have to admit that, being influenced by the sunny weather and clear blue sky one day, I suggested to Emme that we visit The Boathouse in Horseshoe Bay… simply because I wanted to bask in the sunshine and enjoy the setting. We had tried to go to it on a different day and been turned away, with words from the waitress telling  us of a two-hour. However, on this occasion, Emme and I went early enough that we avoided any lines and were given a table right away by the window.

Maple Roasted Chicken

The first and probably most obvious feature worth mentioning about the Boathouse is that it has a spectacular setting. You have a clear view of Horseshoe Bay and the beautiful mountain scenery – and everything lights up and is coloured a lovely orange hue at sunset. It really is quite a stunning view. The main reason I wanted to go, as I mentioned before, was just for the setting. I suppose it can be more or less of a draw, depending on how much you choose to be influenced by the weather. In any case, we were glad to have the setting we wanted… although we both noticed that many people in the dining room that night had less-than-acceptable table manners.

Out waiter was friendly enough and fairly knowledgeable about the menu. Just when I had decided on getting one of the specials of the day – which I actually can’t recall exactly anymore – he returned to our table informing us that they couldn’t serve it. Both Emme and I were kind of in disbelief… You don’t have your own special of the day? What do you mean?! Why is it even listed as a special then, or listed on the menu at all, if you can’t serve it? He said they didn’t have the fish for it. Riiight… That did not really start off the dining experience well, but I chose something else and Emme was lucky enough to get served exactly what she asked for.

The Maple Roasted Chicken that Emme picked ended up being quite a good choice. The mashed potatoes, she claimed, were really the highlight of the meal, what with a wonderful fluffy texture and pleasing, but not over-powering, garlicky aroma. The chicken itself was very good; succulent and sweet from the maple, with some fresh and dried herbs adding new dimensions of flavour. This dish was a hit.

Seafood Grill

I wish I could say the same for my dish. The Seafood Grill that I ended up getting instead of the special of the day was, despite a light sprinkling of dried herbs (chives?), very bland overall. The seafood chunks (shrimp, salmon, and scallops) looked like they had been marinated… but upon tasting there was no hint of the sauce. The salmon was tough and chewy, and the shrimp a bit rubbery. The scallops were the best part, what with their subtle sweetness. Thankfully they escaped the perils of overcooking that the shrimp and the salmon suffered. The spaghetti squash upon which the skewers rested was… well, okay I suppose. It didn’t taste like anything, which is really the problem. Any sort of additional sauce probably would have done wonders to enhance some of the flavours of the dish.

At the end of the meal, Emme and I were waiting for our evening tea to arrive… and the waiter, rushing crazily towards our table with two boiling hot teapots and two teacups precariously perched in the crook of one elbow, ended up actually spilling a good deal of hot water on my bag (which I hung from the side of my chair), the table, and actually a bit on my [napkin covered] lap, too. I tried to brush it off, just being grateful that I wasn’t scalded by the hot water, but Emme was quite taken aback… and probably with good reason. After spilling and splashing hot water everywhere, the waiter didn’t apologise or come back to clean up the spills. He gave a light-hearted “Whoops!”, dropped the pots and cups to the table, and took off again, not to be seen for another twenty minutes. Even before this incident, though, the service throughout our meal had been… nonexistent. Perhaps this would have been more forgivable if it had been busy, but the fact of the matter is that it wasn’t. At all.

On our way out, we also noticed that a lot of the food was not truly “fresh”… or, should I say, not “cooked to order”. A huge amount of dishes were already cooked and being hot-held under the hoods of grills in the kitchen. Also, there were a couple of buckets of condiments by the pick-up area where servers grab dishes (for toppings like chives, or cheese, etc.) and we saw – repeatedly – servers just grabbing condiments with their bare hands to throw on dishes. Maybe I shouldn’t have been as bothered by that, but… how often do servers wash their hands? It just didn’t seem very sanitary. At the very least, the chefs should be putting those final touches on dishes – not the servers.

I wish I could say better things about the Boathouse – and this one in particular, since I’ve got good childhood memories involving the place – but this one dining experience was a flop. The Maple Roasted Chicken was great, but the seafood dish – which should have been the Boathouse’s strong point, in terms of food – was overcooked and underseasoned. The ambiance suffered only because of the type of other diners around, but is otherwise fantastic on a sunny day or warm summer evening when you can sit on the patio. The service was… questionable, to say the least. Definitely not the best. And value? Well, the Boathouse is classed as one of those supposedly “upscale” restaurants (like Joey restaurants, Moxie’s. or Earl’s type restaurants are supposed to be) so it wasn’t cheap. For a less than satisfying meal, I can’t say that I got the most bang out of my buck. Emme’s dish, on the other hand, was a better deal… But other choices on the menu also seemed a bit overpriced for what they were offering. Portion sizes are skimpy, and if you finish hungry like both Emme and I did, you’re probably better off going somewhere else for a more filling meal.

Ambiance: 5

Food: 3

Service: 1.5

Value: 2

Overall: 2.5

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Takumi

It was just over two years ago when Emme first came to know about Takumi. Checking out The Georgia Straight one week to see what was going on around Vancouver, she found a review in the dining section for a classy Japanese restaurant in a far flung location in West Vancouver. Whoever the author was, they bestowed Takumi with the highest praises and called them one of the best – if not the best – places to grab quality Japanese fare in Vancouver, what with their selection of imported seafood and crew of experienced chefs in the kitchen. Seeing as it was so far, however, Emme and I never paid a visit. The prices certainly did not provide any motivation to go and give the place a try. However two years later, we “stumbled” back across it on a trip back from Horseshoe Bay. After not being able to get into The Boathouse for a bite to eat, our empty stomachs prompted us to stop in and finally put Takumi to the test.

The restaurant was empty when we entered, so we picked our table of preference and sat by the window. The hostess was brusque, almost to the point of being rude, which surprised us as usually service at authentic Japanese restaurants is absolutely top-of-the-line in terms of friendliness and speed. It didn’t put us off, in any case (well, we were hungry and not really willing to wait until we reached Ambleside or Dundarave to seek out more restaurants…), and luckily our actual waitress was much friendlier… although not Japanese. No matter; we knew the chefs were experienced Japanese masters – at least, according to The Georgia Straight’s review from two years ago.

Assorted Japanese Pickles

The ambiance of the restaurant is really quite nice, which makes sense since it’s in quite an isolated spot and is well-lit by natural light streaming in through some large windows at one end of the dining area. The music was turned down low, which we appreciated, and provided only some gentle background noise – enough to break the silence. The décor feels very high class, with seemingly expensive chairs and tables, quality cloth napkins instead of your standard tissue/paper ones, and a tastefully done interior. If not for the chopsticks on the table, you might not be able to guess that it was a Japanese restaurant.

I kicked off dinner with some Japanese Assorted Pickles, or known as oshinko moriawase in other Japanese restaurants. An easy dish; difficult, if not impossible, to mess up, right? That’s what I thought. Where can you go wrong? Use store bought pickles that have that weird synthetic taste to them. Also, it was definitely clear that they serve more “fusion”-type Japanese, even as early on in the meal as this. I’ve never been served pickled lettuce as a part of a set of Japanese pickles… Also, the actual pickles (i.e. the pickled cucumber) tasted funny, as though it wasn’t actually cucumber. The takuan tasted okay, although the neon yellow hue was off-putting. I was happy to have lots of katsuobushi to mask some of the funky pickled cucumber taste, in the end.

Mozuku Kelp

Always the seaweed lover – and usually the only one at the table – I also got the Mozuku Kelp, or mozuku-su. The menu describes it as having a “sweet vinaigrette sauce”. I expected a mixture of sweet and sour, as one would expect with a vinaigrette (sour from the vinegar and sweet from whatever else was added to it), but this vinaigrette was just… plain… sweet. My first mozuku-su, over a year ago, was far too vinegary and made me wince from the sourness. This one made me wince from the tooth-aching sweetness. However, I will say that the presentation was gorgeous and the small bits of kiwi and ginger were very nice garnishes. I imagine the kiwi would have worked really well to offset sourness one would usually get from a vinaigrette, so I’m guessing that was the intention. It certainly would have been the case if the dressing hadn’t been so sweet itself! The freshly grated ginger gave a nice kick to the dish, though.

Deviating from her typical order of beef teriyaki, Emme instead opted for Chicken Teriyaki – probably because it was ten dollars cheaper than the only available beef teriyaki on the menu! (They offer wagyu beef teriyaki, but no “standard beef” teriyaki.) Although we were the only ones in the restaurant, our main dishes took a really long time to come out. I think we waited about twenty minutes after I had finished my appetizers to actually take the first bites of our main courses.

Chicken Teriyaki

Anyway… To be blunt, the chicken teriyaki was not good. The chicken had most obviously not been trimmed, as unappetizing globs of fat were aplenty in the chicken and the chicken was actually lukewarm instead of hot. There was also a lot of rubbery skin. Yes, roasted chicken skin can be delicious. This was not. Also, although I’m sure the sauce is house-made or something, it did not have a particularly good texture or have nice “mouth-feel” to it. There was a strange, synthetic after-taste as well. The veggies and fried piece of unidentified matter on the side? The veggies were obviously not fresh. They were mushy and gross. They seemed like they had been pre-frozen and them steamed to death… And the potatoes, Emme claimed, were the worst she’d had in years. I don’t know whether or not they actually came from a real potato, since I refused to try any after hearing Emme confidently state that the potatoes had come from one of those instant-side-of-mashed-potatoes-type packages you can find in grocery stores, next to “Hamburger Helpers” or whatever. I’ve never had reconstituted potatoes (and hadn’t heard of them up until that point… My mother always cooked food from scratch when I was young) but Emme seemed 100% sure of her statement… Perhaps we will never know the truth. As for the fried thingy: Emme couldn’t tell what it was, either. The breading was extremely thick and the inside was flavourless.

Yosenabe

Unlike Emme’s dish, my Yosenabe came out steaming hot and initially inedible due to the incredible heat. After the tiny appetizers and an already long wait, this kind of annoyed me… but I can’t blame the restaurant. It’s supposed to be hot, and it most certainly was. More disappointing than that, however, was that some of the seafood pieces in it seemed to come out as being already overcooked. Since I was hungry and couldn’t eat the broth right away, I decided to fish out the seafood first. The salmon came out chewy and rather unappetizing, since it had lost a good deal of flavour, and the shrimp suffered a similar fate. The rest were not so bad, though – I think there were some crab and squid pieces as well – and the veggies were good. Not too hard to mess up veggies boiled in broth, though, I suppose. Despite my disappointment with the salmon chunks, overall I liked the dish. I would give it a “satisfactory” or “good” rating. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Emme’s meal.

Perhaps we were biased since we went in expecting fantastic food and outstanding hospitality as the review we saw two years ago promised. Perhaps the food and service is better some nights than others, as other recent reviewers of Takumi have said good things about it. Also, neither Emme nor I tried the sushi (we were looking more for satiety that night, and were not willing to dole out loads of cash to get a appetite-satisfying amount of sushi) so I definitely cannot make claims about that. It may very well be that Takumi is more of a place to enjoy traditional and fusion sushi, albeit very pricey. However on this night, we left feeling rather disappointed and agreed that we would probably stick to our standard go-to, “tested and true” Japanese restaurants (e.g. Hitoe Sushi, Hachibei, Kibune Sushi…). In the meantime, maybe someone can clarify to me whether or not we were picking all the wrong dishes and whether we should have only been shooting for the sushi…

Ambiance: 4.5

Food: 2

Service: 3

Value: 2.5

Overall: 2.5

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Ki-Isu

When there are so many fantastic restaurants on the West Side of Vancouver itself, there’s rarely – if ever – any need to venture anywhere else for great food. However, seeking escape from the “usual” scenery one afternoon, Emme and I headed over to the North Shore for dinner. I was craving Japanese food, as usual, so we passed by and checked out a few, but ended up picking Ki-Isu simply because we were starving when we stopped by and tired of comparing to see which was best. Plus, Ki-Isu had a “restaurant”-y feel that several other Japanese places we saw lacked. (They were more take-out based places, and while I know that those take-out places can serve up really fantastic sushi sometimes, Emme likes to have a very nice ambiance when we dine out… Understandable, I think.)

Edamame

We chose to sit at the “sushi bar”, since the only other option available was sitting at tables on either sides of two obnoxiously loud diners (the only other people in the restaurant) or by the door. As we looked over the menu, I could hear the waitresses and chefs speaking Korean… so to those who care about authenticity (erm, like me, for example…), this place isn’t actually Japanese-managed. I was starving, though, so Emme and I stayed put. The ambiance, aside from the noise from the other two diners, was quite nice. The place is tastefully decorated with a dark colour scheme, and the kitchen is in full view of the dining room and is also very clean and organised. The lighting was actually perfect for taking photos – at least by the sushi bar. However, it was cold inside. You’d think that because the place is relatively small, it would be easy to keep warm… but Emme and I had to pull our coats back on right after taking them off. Again – eating with your winter coat on isn’t fun!

Beef Teriyaki Donburi

There were two waitresses the night that we stopped by. One was extremely rude. She was inflexible when it came to asking for minor substitutions to items on the menu (even though the chefs, who could obviously hear us ordering since we were sitting at the bar, said that would be quite willing to meet our requests!). She also got irritated when Emme asked any questions about portion size or what an item was (I speak Japanese, but Emme doesn’t). In addition, not once did she top up our tea cups or water glasses, whether we asked (and we did… several times) or not. Thankfully, the other waitress stepped in to finish taking our orders after the first got annoyed when we had to change our orders since she refused to relay requests for menu substitutions (even though, as I said, the chefs were right there and happy to make some substitutions). This second waitress was extremely accommodating, and, although her English wasn’t as good as the first waitress’s, very polite. It was definitely a case of having polar opposite restaurant service… in the same restaurant.

Steamed Rice

As for the food… Emme started off with some Edamame, which… were served in a bamboo basket?? Definitely had not seen that sort of thing before… but they must have been freshly steamed, because they were warm. They cooled down very quickly, though – a warm ceramic bowl probably would’ve helped keep the heat a little better. They were good, though, as Emme said. She had a Crab Sunomono while working on the edamame, but was so quick to eat the sunomono that I didn’t catch a shot of it. It was okay, but a little pricy for the portion size that was served up. She also said it tasted funny, but couldn’t put her finger on what was off about it. Her main dish was the Beef Teriyaki Donburi, which was actually served very hot and was giving off steam when it arrived. I was already in a biased, judgmental mode because of the rude waitress and thought it would be bad, but alas – the chef’s skills are of course no reflection of the poor service. The dish was really tasty, Emme commented, and the sauce was not too heavy while adding just the right amount of flavour. However, she added that while it was indeed really delicious, it did not seem at all like Japanese food, but that it was really good Korean food. This I can actually totally understand, because, after all… a donburi is supposed to be a meal were you have something served over rice! Traditionally in a bowl, I think. So while it was a good dish, it wasn’t a real donburi at all, really. (To be fair, they did give Emme rice. But it came with her sunomono and edamame, as though it wasn’t meant to be eaten with the beef. Also, the rice… was just plain rice. It was  totally flavourless and bland, while sushi rice – or at least the rice that good Japanese restaurants will serve – usually has more of a slight sweetness (probably from having a bit of rice vinegar added to it?).

Plain Sunomono

As for myself, I also decided to try out a sunomono, but went with a plain one – so a Plain Sunomono. I recognised that the funny taste Emme mentioned was due to the salad not having the right sort (well, I say “right sort” but I suppose I mean “traditional”) dressing for a sunomono. It lacked the sweetness you will typically taste in a sunomono, and had a strange, faint spicy kick to it. It was definitely unexpected, seeing as sunomono dishes are usually supposed to just be cool and refreshing. Also, what happened to the cucumbers? They looked like they had been mangled in a food processor for a second or two or something. They had no crunch or taste and just fell apart when I tried to pick some up. Well… at least the presentation was very nice.

Miso Soup

As for the Miso Soup… It was so nondescript that I can hardly comment. It was literally just miso paste with some hot water poured over top. No wakame seaweed, no tofu, and definitely no green onions.

Kappa Maki

The Kappa Maki was a much needed “pleasant surprise” and a real sight for sore eyes (or a real taste for a deprived mouth? Not sure if there’s a food version of that expression…). The rice was not real sushi rice, but these cucumbers were fresh and crunchy and the rolls at least held together very well. The pickled ginger had a weird flavour (again with the spicy kick, as though it may have been pickled with a mild type of chili pepper or something) but wasn’t bad.

Hokkigai, Ebi, and Salmon Nigiri

By now it is hopefully clear that no, I’m not a fan of this restaurant… but I will grudgingly admit that the nigiri sushi was good. The sashimi pieces were all fresh and very  flavourful (guess that’s just due to high quality ingredients though!), although not all cut in a traditional way. The hokkigai (surf clam) pieces were huge and those nigiri were definitely done in a style I’d never seen, but were really good – and I definitely appreciated the slightly larger portion size. It was kind of weird that it took so long for the sushi to come out, though. Emme’s dinner actually came out before mine… I’m not  100% sure, but aren’t sushi dishes supposed to come out first – so you can appreciate the more subtle tastes of raw dishes before eating stuff with stronger sauces and more powerful flavours? I’m not Japanese, but I know I’ve been told something like that before…

Anyway. I’m not going back. The sushi may have been good, but it was not outstanding, and I know I can get much better sushi for a much better price elsewhere. If you want non-traditional but mediocre Japanese food with a sort of Korean twist that’s served up with a side of bad service, though, go ahead and check the place out. At least the classy interior décor will keep you distracted.

Ambiance: 4

Food: 2.5

Service: 1

Value: 3 [Decent prices.]

Overall: 2
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