Thursday, 7 August 2014

Episode #20: Sushi Town (Coquitlam)

Coquitlam, $ (Budget)

I remember that in my first year at SFU, finding decent food on or around Burnaby Campus was one of my top priorities besides studying. Pricing of the food was also important to me, so I sampled my way through the food vendors without finding anything that I really liked. Then, I heard about Sushi Town on Hastings, which was only a mere 10 minutes away by bus, and decided to try it. Not only was it less expensive than the food on campus, but it was also much, much better. That led to my persistent sushi cravings and my continuous quest to find better and better sushi by exploring all of Greater Vancouver.

Having regularly visited Sushi Town on Hastings ever since, I went to Sushi Town in Coquitlam after their most recent renovation with a large group of relatives. The decor was much fancier (it was like a cafeteria before) and it looked promising as I walked in. Even though the restaurant was quite busy when we arrived at just before 6 p.m., they could have done a better job of trying to accommodate our party of 12. There was an opportunity to seat us all close together with there being two empty tables at the back and one empty table across a small aisle from those two tables. Instead, the waitress told us that we had to split up into two groups of 6, with each group sitting in a different corner of the restaurant. Alright, that wasn't too much of a deal, and for some reason, we decided to split based on age. I ended up being the oldest person at the "young" table.

When I sat down, I noticed that the table was a bit too high compared to the seats. That's alright if you have a tall torso, but sadly, I don't possess that luxury ... and onto the food:

Salmon Sashimi - A-

Sushi Town always manages to serve sashimi at a lightning quick pace (ours came in about 5 minutes, but sometimes it only takes 2 minutes for it to arrive). The Salmon Sashimi was very fresh and came with 9 neatly cut pieces, each with a decent size. The sashimi had a desirable smooth texture and was quite tender. The only minor issue was that some of the pieces were stuck together at the ends.

Awesome Roll - B-

The Awesome Roll came with crab meat, cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise, masago, salmon, green onion, and bonito flakes. This is quite a large roll and for $6.95, it is a good deal. The Awesome Roll was served chilly and was moderately spicy. The crab meat was quite coarse and the sauce was a little heavy, but at least it enhanced the flavour of the roll somewhat. This was inconsistent with the Awesome Rolls I had at both the Hastings and North Vancouver locations - the Awesome Rolls there are usually mildly spicy, served neither chilly nor warm, are soft in texture, have teriyaki sauce that is an excellent match for the bonito flakes and masago, and usually score an A- or a B+.

Tako Yaki - B

The Tako Yaki had good flavouring to it but was unfortunately a bit burnt at the bottom. I liked the soft flour inside, but I found it odd how the tako was sitting on top of the flour just underneath the crust rather than being encased in the flour.

Dragon Roll - C+

The Dragon Roll consists of avocado, cucumber, tobiko, unagi, and mayonnaise. Other than a slight rotation so that a photo could be taken, this was how the roll was served. The presentation was sloppy enough to warrant a slight deduction. The avocado was sweet and buttery, while the unagi needed to be more rich. The rice was overly chewy and there was a bit too much of it.

 Prawn & Sweet Potato Tempura - C+

The Prawn & Sweet Potato Tempura came with 4 large pieces each of prawn tempura and yam tempura, all for $7.95. The batter was very heavy and obscured the contents inside. In addition, the oil used to fry the tempura showed signs of overuse. The prawns had a nice, soft bounce to them, while the yam (sweet potato) was adequately sweet but was very thin. Except the salmon sashimi, the quality of the food thus far has been considerably different from what I had at the other Sushi Town locations. Perhaps the chef who prepared the food for our table was less experienced, or perhaps someone was having a bad day?

BBQ Salmon Gama - B+

As a small consolation, the BBQ Salmon Gama was quite decent. The spices and pepper sprinklings that garnished the salmon provided light spiciness and savour to the salmon. Some of the parts lacked moisture, but the moisture-laden parts, especially those close to the cartilage, were quite tasty.

Chicken Teriyaki - B-

The Chicken Teriyaki came with tender chicken on a bed of vegetables mainly composed of bean sprouts. I liked the teriyaki sauce on top of the chicken, which showed considerable improvement compared to their pre-renovation period. Unfortunately, the entire layer of bean sprouts touching the hot plate had a very charred flavour to them and the rice was quite gummy. Also, the skin on the chicken had a mashed texture instead of a crispy one.

Mangodise Roll - C+

The Mangodise Roll consists of mango, crab meat, mayonnaise, ebi (shrimp) and cucumber. There was an overflow of rice and again, the crab meat was quite coarse and resembled T&T imitation crab meat. The shrimp on top was overly chewy and I wish the mayonnaise was spread more evenly throughout the roll.

Hotategai Nigiri - C-

The Hotategai Nigiri looked much better than it actually was. The Hotategai itself was actually quite fresh, but somehow, they managed to make it quite slimy and watery. It also wasn't cut very well, and there were some strands dangling from one end. Worst of all, the wasabi tasted like it had mint toothpaste mixed in. I completely lost my appetite after this one. The fact that such a fresh, beautiful piece of scallop could be messed up so badly almost brought me to tears.

This was completely not what I expected of Sushi Town when I stepped into the restaurant. Furthermore, service was sparse and we had to ask several times for tea refills. I went over and asked the other table in my party of 12 to see if they had similar problems. Strangely enough, they remarked that their tea was refilled several times without asking and that their food was decent and presented neatly. Was I receiving discriminatory service and discriminatory food for being young? I hope the difference in quality between the two tables in our large group was unintentional, but in either case, I will still maintain that this visit to Sushi Town was a particularly disappointing one.

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

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