Looking for a restaurant to dine at on Labour Day required quite a bit of labour. Picky Diner and I would brainstorm a list of restaurants that we could visit, and I would call each one in turn only to find out that all of them were closed. Our laborious search finally came to an end when I discovered that Sushi Loku was open. I had visited Sushi Loku once before, but since then, I have seen many reviews and Instagram captions that suggest that Sushi Loku may be better than I made them out to be. The restaurant literally looks like Aburi heaven on Instagram. It was time for me to give them a second chance (not that I had much of a choice either).
On my first visit, the interior of the restaurant still retained the scent of the retro diner that used to be there before. Now, that scent was completely gone. They have tidied up the dining space, and the whole place was bustling with diners. Much to my surprise, we even had to wait 15 minutes for a table. From what I could see, there were three waitresses and five chefs on duty, each working hard to keep up with all the orders. It sometimes took some effort to get a hold of the servers.
Salmon Sashimi - A
Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - A-
Hamachi Sashimi - B
Tuna Sashimi - A
Toro Sashimi - A
Tai Sashimi - C+
Having heard good things about the sashimi, Picky Diner and I shared an order of Assorted Sashimi (18 pieces). We were quite pleased with most of the fish. Both types of salmon were very fresh and exhibited a delectably smooth texture. The tuna was very soft, and the toro melted perfectly in my mouth. The only piece that didn't really perform to expectations was the tai. It was remarkably fishy and chewy, and it tasted somewhat like I had grabbed a fishy-smelling fish from the dead fish section of a fish market and just started nibbling on it.
After finishing the last piece of the fishy tai, we then noticed something else that was fishy. We saw tables that had ordered after us almost finishing their food and getting ready to leave. Where was the rest of our food? It had been more than 50 minutes since we placed our order. When we inquired one of the servers, we discovered that they had forgotten to place the rest of our order in! Our server, who was new to the job, promptly came over to apologize several times and presented us with two complimentary miso soups.
Miso Soup - A-
Featuring tofu and green onion, this complimentary Miso Soup was one of the better ones I have had. The balance of ingredients was just right.
Aburi Beef Nigiri - B+
Aburi Hamachi Nigiri - A-
Aburi Salmon Nigiri - B+
Aburi Toro Nigiri - A
The Aburi Beef Nigiri was meaty with a wasabi-like zing to it. The garlic chip that accompanied gave the beef more of a punch. The Aburi Hamachi Nigiri (which Picky Diner had and rated) was also decent, though it did fall apart (I don't usually consider this to be a problem). The Aburi Salmon Nigiri was a little weaker in flavour, but the wasabi on top sort of compensated for that. Finally, the Aburi Toro Nigiri came with some deliciously soft toro accompanied by a hit of spicy ponzu that was not overwhelming.
Magma Roll - B
Since I lack the skills to pick items from a menu in a reasonable amount of time, I had Picky Diner choose our special roll. We agreed to get something Aburi-related (seared), so we had the Magma Roll, which came with crab meat, avocado, chopped scallop, masago, spicy mayonnaise, and teriyaki sauce. It was just like a California roll with chopped scallop randomly placed on top. I say "randomly" because the ingredients did not really work together that well. The spicy sauce provided more flavour than the searing, but I did like the soft scallop and how the pieces were bite-sized.
Ebi Mayo - C-
Unfortunately, our dinner took a downturn with the Ebi Mayo. It reminded me of a certain unpleasant experience I had at Okoman Sushi. Yes, it tasted like they mixed up their box of tempura batter with their bottle of glue. The "batter" here was gummy, not crispy at all, and rather gross. The prawns themselves were slightly overdone. Flavour-wise, Picky Diner remarked that the Ebi Mayo tasted like lemon chicken.
Oshisushi Negi Toro - B
Normally, the goal with Aburi sushi is to create a rich, creamy, and buttery flavour accented by a smokiness that lights up your taste buds. When we looked at the Aburi section of the menu, we were scratching our heads over why almost all the choices contained either balsamic or ponzu sauce. We decided to try out the Oshisushi Negi Toro, which came with seared tuna, green onion, and ponzu sauce. Much to my surprise, the tangy ponzu sauce actually worked. The only issue was that there wasn't enough tuna, so the oshisushi tasted a little rice-heavy.
The servers appeared to be overwhelmed, but they were still able to give us friendly service. However, we did have to stay in the restaurant for a full two hours to finish our meal. At least we had our cameras to entertain, and in my case, my notebook as well. My verdict? Both the atmosphere and the food have improved since my last visit, but the food still wasn't always as stellar as it looked. They're getting there though.