Monday, August 18, 2014

Episode #23: Sushi &

Coquitlam, $ (Budget)

A friend of mine asked me to name a sushi restaurant in the Coquitlam or Port Moody area that the both of us could visit on a Sunday evening. Little did I know how difficult this could turn out to be. Fuji? Closed. Namoo? Closed. Kaya? Closed. Hanamori? Closed. Sushi Town Coquitlam? Nope, don't want to go there for a while. Seriously?! What the chocolatey fudge! I thought Sundays were a popular choice to have a family day and go out to restaurants? Nope, I guess not, or at least not in Coquitlam. Since Sushi & was one of the only decent and available choices close by, that was where we ended up going. In addition, our original party of 2 somehow turned into a party of 6, but hey, the more the merrier.

I visited Sushi & (pronounced "Sushi And" - I confirmed this with the staff) two weeks after it first opened, and it was very quiet, but I received very friendly service and decent food, so I returned ... again ... and again. This time, I was quite surprised to see that this Korean-run restaurant had turned into a busy one (though this could have been because the rest of the city was closed). There were four servers, lots of chatter, a shrieking baby who gave me two heart attacks (I'm sorry), and overall, a mostly full house. My group shared most of the sharable items, and I'll detail everything I tried below.

Red Roll - A-

The Red Roll consisted of cucumber, scallop and spicy tuna. This was quite a decent version of the Red Roll with scallop and tuna that melted in my mouth. The masago accented the flavour of the scallop. The roll was moderately spicy and for some reason, the spicy sauce had a rather salty aftertaste.

 Negihama Roll - B
Crunchy Spicy Salmon Roll - B

The Negihama Roll was a hosomaki ("thin roll") with hamachi toro (yellowtail belly) and green onion. The hamachi toro was fresh, but not a prominent feature inside the densely-packed rice. The Crunchy Spicy Salmon Roll came with cucumber, spicy salmon and tempura bits. I tend to enjoy crunchy tempura bits if used in moderation, and here, the tempura bits satisfy that criterion. The spicy salmon was equally soft compared to the spicy tuna, but had the same salty aftertaste.

Green Salad - A-

My table of six was presented with a large bowl of salad on the house. The slightly tangy sauce matched very well with the fresh greens, and this was one of my favourite items of the night (for reasons besides the fact that it's free). All of the vegetables were bite-sized too, which made it easy to eat. If only Chinese restaurants also thought of making vegetables bite-sized ...

&'s Roll - B+

The &'s Roll (formerly the Midnight Sun Roll) consisted of cucumber, avocado, crab meat, unagi, and wild salmon. In addition, it is decorated with a wakame salad as the centerpiece. The soft, buttery avocado was a great match to the sweet teriyaki sauce. The salmon was fresh, while the unagi was a touch too fatty. This would have been a very decent roll if it didn't constantly make me think, "Why is this mayonnaise so strong?" the whole time I was eating the roll.

Red Dragon Roll - A-

The Red Dragon Roll consisted of prawn tempura, cucumber, avocado, salmon, masago and tobiko, along with teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise. The batter on the prawn tempura was slightly crunchy without being hard, while the prawn provided adequate flavour. The salmon had a desirable, marbly texture and overall, the roll was served warm due to the freshly fried tempura (which is a plus). 

Awesome Roll - B+

The Awesome Roll is a California roll topped with salmon, masago, bonito flakes, teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise. The salmon was a bit too cooked and the bonito was slightly hard, but the California roll base was decent. The roll was served neither warm nor cold, and is similar to Sushi Town's version.

Ebi Mayo - C+

The Ebi Mayo came with 6 battered prawns and was served hot. The prawn was soft, but they were quite heavy on the batter, which wasn't spread out very evenly. There was also quite a bit of mayonnaise and it was quite greasy. I would have preferred half the amount of mayonnaise or even better, having the mayonnaise served on the side. I did like the seasoning on the top, which prevented the Ebi Mayo from tasting all buttery and creamy.

Yakitori - B+

The Yakitori came with two medium-sized chicken skewers which also contained peppers and onions. The Yakitori was hot when it came and wasn't over-grilled. The chicken was mostly tender except for a few tougher parts where no sauce was applied. However, the teriyaki sauce was visibly oily ... do they really need that much oil for Yakitori?

Salmon Nigiri - B
Tuna Nigiri - A-
Amaebi Nigiri - B-
Unagi Nigiri - C
Hotate Nigiri - B

After everyone else was finished eating, I still decided to order more food! What ensued among the rest of my table was a rock-paper-scissors loser-eats-wasabi match ... while I focused on sampling the nigiri. The nigiri were all served with soft sushi rice, which had a mild flavour to it. There was some confusion that occurred as not all the servers knew what "hotategai" was ... apparently I should have said "hotate" because that's how it was listed in the menu. After I explained the error, they switched the hokkigai they accidentally gave me with the hotate which I wanted.

Eating from right to left, I started with the Hotate Nigiri which slightly lacked flavour, but was fresh, jelly-like and had the same sweet aftertaste as geoduck. The Unagi Nigiri was grilled for too long, had a 1 cm bone in it and was rather fatty (I should've picked up the cue from the &'s Roll, but I am stubborn and never learn). The Amaebi Nigiri was soft and sweet, but there was a disproportionately large amount of rice under the shrimp. The Tuna Nigiri was very soft and melted in my mouth in a desirable way, with a minimal metallic taste. The Tuna Nigiri had the best fish-to-rice ratio out of all the nigiri. The Salmon Nigiri was a bit tough, but it had a smooth texture and tasted fresh. There was also an unidentified mysterious object (UMO) stuck to the rice of my Salmon Nigiri (it's the little dark red speck in the photo).

In terms of service, there wasn't much to complain about - we were provided with both iced water and tea which were refilled in a timely manner, and servers came promptly when I waved for them or made eye contact. The food wasn't necessarily light, but there wasn't a single item we ordered that tasted bad. If you are looking for affordable and decent sushi around Lougheed Station, Sushi & is most likely your best bet, especially on a Sunday.


Miss Vancouver Piggy said...

I really like Kaya Japanese, it is definitely worth making another trip when they're open! Not sure why Fuji is popular though, the sashimi was horribly cut and the wrong portions were served. I guess the idea of trying an actual Japanese run restaurant helps..

Raymond Zeng said...

I was quite impressed with Kaya the last time I visited, though it was a very brief visit where I didn't order much. Portions can be a problem at Fuji (once I ordered a roll and it only came with 3 pieces), but I thought they paid enough attention to how things tasted the last time I went. I agree that being Japanese-run (and Japanese-frequented it seems) helps them stay in business.

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