Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Episode #238: Sushi Bar Nagomi

Gibsons, $$$$ (Luxury)

While a four-hour bus ride to the east can take me to Harrison Hot Springs, a four-hour bus ride to the west can take me to Sunshine Coast, a perfect destination when hot weather is in the forecast. Wanting to save my appetite, I left the house early in the morning without having eaten breakfast, hoping to grab my first bite at Sushi Bar Nagomi.

However, a stalled vehicle delaying my ferry by over an hour was not exactly part of my itinerary. By the time the ferry actually departed, I had already explored every nook and cranny of it. I wasn't that hungry, but I was so bored that I decided to order a Pirate Pak from the White Spot onboard since I had never had one before. Trying to be polite, I actually asked them, "are adults allowed to order Pirate Paks?" Yes, I heard a few chuckles around me, and yes, I resorted to food for entertainment.

Just over five hours after I left home, I finally arrived at Sushi Bar Nagomi, a quaint sushi restaurant built inside a house in downtown Gibsons. Run by a Japanese chef (Chef Hiro), the restaurant served a mainly traditional Japanese menu with mainly nigiri, sashimi, donburi, teishoku sets, sushi rolls, and appetizers, among other things.

The restaurant's name, Nagomi, has two meanings in Japanese: authentic taste and cozy. It easily fulfilled both of these. I wanted to take my time at the restaurant, but because of the delayed ferry, I arrived only 45 minutes before they closed at the end of lunch service. I hastily picked a few things from the menu and made sure not to order so much that I'd be keeping the staff behind due to my slow eating and blogging process.

Sesame Tuna Poke - A+

The Sesame Tuna Poke came in a surprisingly small portion considering that it was $9.50. However, it was also so surprisingly well-executed that I would have paid double the price for it. The diced, marinated tuna was extremely fresh and soft, and the wasabi mayonnaise applied in conservative amounts gave it the perfect amount of kick. Complementing the excellent smooth finish of the tuna was a small helping of fresh, creamy avocado. A tangy, refreshing light soy sauce brought all the ingredients together and made this one of the best appetizers I have ever had.

Hiroll - B

Named after Chef Hiro, the Hiroll consisted of wild salmon, bay scallops, a tempura prawn, avocado and mayonnaise all wrapped in a soy sheet. The soy sheet provided an egg-like flavour with a fluffy texture. The ingredients were fresh and were a delight when eaten individually, but flavours were getting lost in the mix. I couldn't actually taste the tempura prawn without taking the roll apart.

Saba Nigiri - A
Wild Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - B-
Toro Nigiri - A

The nigiri, for the most part, beat my expectations. The Saba Nigiri was soft and not too salty, and the rice was well made and flavoured. The salmon exhibited some flawed cutting and did not taste as fresh as the other pieces. However, the Toro Nigiri was very creamy and buttery and was soft enough to melt in my mouth.

Overall, I highly enjoyed my rather short experience at Sushi Bar Nagomi. The service was very friendly, and they did their best not to rush me even though it was time for them to close up. Most of the food was very well-prepared, and Sushi Bar Nagomi stacks up to the authentic places I've been to in Metro Vancouver. I will most likely make a return visit the next time I come to Sunshine Coast to escape the hot weather.

Sushi Bar Nagomi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Episode #237: Sushi Fu

Port Coquitlam, $ (Budget)

One restaurant in Port Coquitlam I have wanted to visit for a long time is Sushi K Kamizato. My dad and I visit Port Coquitlam for leisurely purposes every so often, sometimes to try out new sushi restaurants. Unfortunately, my dad works most evenings, and Sushi K Kamizato is only open for evenings. In order to satisfy my Aburi cravings on this particular occasion, we went to Sushi Fu, one of the newest additions to Port Coquitlam's constantly evolving sushi scene.

Sushi Fu is Chinese-operated and features a large, budget-friendly menu with a special that allows diners to choose 3 items (from a select list) + a bowl of miso soup for $8.50. The interior was cleanly and comfortably decorated for the most part, except for the oddly coloured walls, which were green enough for me to camouflage some wasabi without anyone noticing. Don't worry, I'm more well-behaved than that.

Salmon Sashimi - A-
Tai Sashimi - B+
Tuna Sashimi - A

Starting off with the Appetizer Sashimi, the salmon was soft and buttery with an excellent smooth texture. The tai was slightly tough but came with ample flavour. The tuna was the freshest, with a wonderful soft texture and a rich, non-fishy flavour.

Appetizer Tempura - B

The Appetizer Tempura came with two prawns and one piece each of sweet potato, carrot, and yam. The batter was average and a bit heavy in places. The prawns were juicy though a bit thin, and the vegetables retained good flavour and moisture. 

Seared Salmon Nigiri - A-
Seared Toro Nigiri - A
Seared Saba Nigiri - B+

The seared nigiri was surprisingly well-executed. A thin layer of mayonnaise applied to each piece of nigiri really helped bring out a smoky flavour, and this was supported by a sprinkle of aromatic sesame seeds. I highly enjoyed the freshness of the salmon and the very juicy toro. The saba, besides being cut a bit too thick, was also deliciously juicy. This was one of the dishes that would make me alter my response to "excellent" instead of just "good" when asked how my food is.

Hawawii Roll - B

Since my eyes tend to gravitate towards oddly spelled things on a menu, I naturally went for the Hawawii Roll. Perhaps they were trying to replicate the very relaxing experience of playing on a Wii in Hawaii in a sushi roll rather than making a typo (although really, who actually does that on vacation?). This roll, with prawn tempura, cucumber, avocado, imitation crab, mango and fish roe, came in large, neatly constructed pieces. The roll was visually appealing, although I thought the sweetness of the mango sauce wasn't a good pairing for the savoury prawn tempura. The prawn, however, was meaty and delicious.

Overall, I was more than satisfied with my visit to Sushi Fu, especially given the affordable pricing. The service was also very friendly during my visit. If it weren't for the fact that Port Coquitlam isn't the most convenient for me to transit to, I can see this being a place I would visit regularly.

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

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Episode #236: Kitami Japanese Restaurant

Harrison Hot Springs, $$$ (Higher Priced)

After having lunch at Yukiya Sushi, I decided it was time for some exercise in order to burn off some of those calories. By exercise, I meant going to a hot springs pool and doing absolutely nothing for an entire hour. That moment was perhaps the healthiest I felt the entire month. By the time I got out of the pool, I felt like I had burned enough calories to resume my eating adventures once again.

Just a few steps from the core of Harrison Hot Springs is Kitami Japanese Restaurant, serving diners who wish to have sushi in a slightly more refined setting. However, the restaurant had about as much life as an abandoned mine shaft. All the private rooms were closed off, and it took almost two minutes before someone even noticed that I had walked into the dining area.

The menu was not expansive but featured most of the typical traditional Japanese dishes. The combos helped to offset the higher prices. I would soon learn that the portion sizes were quite big too, as the waitress showed genuine concern when I placed my order, which consisted of only a bowl of udon and a sushi combo.

Ebi Tempura Udon - B

The Ebi Tempura Udon came in a large bowl with two large prawns and some appropriately firm udon noodles. The prawns had a good snap, but they did not taste particularly fresh and were coated rather heavily with batter.

Moriawase (Assorted Nigiri)

To keep the bill reasonable, I went for the Moriawase combo, which came with 7 pieces of nigiri, a tuna roll, and a bowl of miso soup.

Miso Soup - B+

The Miso Soup came with the usual green onions and a unique mix of radish and carrot. This was good for enhancing the flavour of the soup, but I thought they could've lightened up a bit on the radish and carrot so that we can enjoy the soup itself more.

Ebi Nigiri - C
Unagi Nigiri - B+

The Ebi Nigiri tasted strangely sour and came with too much wasabi. I guess the moral of the story is... avoid Ebi Nigiri in Harrison Hot Springs! The Unagi Nigiri, on the other hand, had a pleasantly soft texture and came with rice that was not packed too tightly, although slightly dry.

Tuna Roll - B+

The Tuna Roll was neatly constructed and came with wasabi inside. The tuna had a soft texture, though it was weak in flavour. This is $5 if ordered separately.

Tuna Nigiri - B-
Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - B
Tako Nigiri - B-
Hokkigai Nigiri - B+
Tobiko Nigiri - A-

Onto the top row, the Tuna Nigiri was soft but came with mushy rice. The Sockeye Salmon Nigiri had an interesting smoked salmon flavour, while the Tako Nigiri was rather chewy. The plum sauce on the tako and the wasabi inside created a strange mix of flavours. The Hokkigai Nigiri surprisingly came with two thin pieces of hokkigai, which worked to produce a rich sweetness, while the Tobiko Nigiri was perfectly bite-sized with an enjoyable bubbly texture. 

I found the service friendlier at Yukiya Sushi, although the quality of the food between the two restaurants was similar. With slightly higher prices at Yukiya Sushi, I cannot definitively say which is the better choice out of the two restaurants. However, I can say that both meals were very filling, and I had to do slightly more exercise the next day to burn off those calories. Well, "slightly more" just meant actually walking around instead of sitting in a tub.

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