Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Episode #16: Asahi Japanese Restaurant

Port Coquitlam, $ (Budget)

After completing a 7-hour editing spree for my report which is due in less than 48 hours, I decided to take a little trip to Port Coquitlam for some sushi. Asahi Japanese Restaurant is located in the corner of a small plaza in the southeastern corner of downtown Port Coquitlam, close to the Port Coquitlam West Coast Express station. As I walked into the restaurant, I was quite surprised by how big the restaurant actually was. There were at least 15 tables, each of which can seat 4 or more people. Some of these tables were housed in small private tatami rooms.

Right away, I could sense that service was one of the priorities of the restaurant. I was seated promptly, and received apologies for even the slightest of errors, such as taking a few seconds longer to walk to my table to take my order. The servers were literally running (or at least doing a quick shuffle) constantly, trying to get all the food to the diners as quickly as possible.

Edamame - B

Wow, I even got a complimentary Edamame (soybeans) to start off my meal while I was waiting for my food. I enjoyed the cashew-like flavour of the beans, and although they were a bit dry, I could easily pop them into my mouth.

Yakitori - A-

At $1.25, this was some of the most inexpensive Yakitori I have ever had. The sauce was especially savoury and the leeks provided juiciness to this carefully prepared skewer. The chicken was not tough, but it would be nice if they let the sauce seep into the chicken a little more. 

Just as I finished the Yakitori, I received the Starter Sashimi, which came with 3 pieces of tuna and 2 pieces of salmon.

Tuna Sashimi - B
Salmon Sashimi - A

The Starter Sashimi displayed commendable knife skills and had quite a visually appealing sheen. Here is a side view:


The Salmon Sashimi was not only fresh, but also had a soft texture without being fatty. The Tuna Sashimi also had a perfectly soft texture, but was quite bland, and this was especially noticeable in the absence of soy sauce.

Oyster Motoyaki - B-

The Oyster Motoyaki came with quite a bit of oyster - about two or three large ones to be precise. The tasty oysters were the prominent feature in terms of taste, and the custard surrounding them was a bit thick, being almost sticky. Of particular interest is the layer of cheese on top of the motoyaki. It was quite crispy, and was almost an exact replica of the cheese layer found on a pizza.


Next, the three different kinds of rolls I ordered came all on the same dish. Oh my, that's a lot of sushi! Asahi does provide half orders on special rolls, but when they came, it was evident that "two-thirds orders" was a more accurate term to describe the sushi. Each of the "half orders" of special rolls I ordered came with 6 pieces instead of the regular 9 pieces. The prices of each of the special rolls ended up being about two-thirds of the regular price as well. 

 BC Roll - A-

The description next to the BC Roll said "grilled salmon skin". This was not listed as a special roll, but clearly, it is equally elaborate compared to the rolls in the Special Rolls section. In addition to grilled salmon skin, there was avocado, cucumber, crab meat, masago and teriyaki sauce. The teriyaki sauce was drizzled quite evenly over the roll and successfully amplified the harmony of crab meat and avocado. There was slightly more salmon meat than salmon skin, and although the skin was not crispy per se, the salmon itself was tastefully grilled.

1/2 Dragon Roll - B

The half order Dragon Roll came with 6 pieces containing crab meat, avocado, and cucumber with barbequed eel, avocado and unagi sauce on the outside. Unfortunately, the eel on top was a little dry and under-seasoned, even though the rest of the roll contained the right amount of moisture. The crab meat had a good amount of mayonnaise and went well with the avocado. The Dragon Roll was remarkably similar to the BC Roll, but was not as well executed as the BC Roll, considering the choice of ingredients.

1/2 Crispy Crunch Roll - C+

The half order Crispy Crunch Roll consisted of 2 pieces of prawn tempura, yam tempura, crab meat, cucumber, crispy crumbs, mayonnaise and unagi sauce. The crispy crumbs were ground very finely and provided a soft and crispy topping to the roll. The roll itself was a little dry and the tempura prawn was overshadowed by the sweet yam tempura, giving the roll a sweet taste overall. The other issue was that the unagi sauce was too strong and didn't go very well with the tempura yam (one being very savoury, the other being very sweet), which resulted in a clash of flavours. 

After my meal, I also received a complimentary orange dessert! That's two complimentary items in one meal! Needless to say, service remained attentive and pleasant up to the end, when I was thanked several times for the tip I gave. The most satisfying part of my visit was that for every aspect of my meal, I got more than what I expected. The restaurant was larger than expected, the yakitori was bigger than expected, the service was better than expected, the BC Roll was fancier than expected, the bill was higher than expected (oops, I forgot to count as I was ordering) ...

Asahi Japanese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Episode #15: Okonomi Sushi

New Westminster, $$ (Moderately Priced)
www.okonomisushi.com/downtown

Needing a quick meal in the middle of my trip from Surrey to Coquitlam, I decided to visit Okonomi Sushi, which happened to be situated right outside Columbia Station, where I had to make my transfer from the Expo Line to the Millennium Line. Okonomi Sushi in New Westminster is known for its reasonable prices, extensive menu choices, pink rice and unique decor. By unique decor, I mean that there are literally sofas that you can sit on while you dine! The restaurant's interior design reminded me of an 80's lounge, and to help you picture that, I took a photo of the dining area.


My food came very quickly. In fact, it all came before I could finish typing the names and descriptions of the dishes onto my phone.

 Gomae - C+

The Gomae came in a very large bowl, which made it look very small, but it actually had a good amount of spinach and sesame sauce. The spinach was served slightly too cold and there wasn't really an attempt made to evenly mix the sauce with the spinach. The sauce itself was a little off - it tasted like sesame paste with some water mixed in so that it would sort of have the right consistency.

Vancouver Island Roll - B

The Vancouver Island Roll came with prawn tempura, unagi (BBQ eel), cucumber, flakes, and wrapped special sauce. Yes, "wrapped special sauce". I thought it was a typo when I first read it, but I also saw that many other items on the Special Rolls menu had this "wrapped special sauce". What in the world was this "wrapped special sauce"? It turned out to be a very strong teriyaki sauce, almost like a balsamic reduction. Considering its intensity, I would say that it was applied in the right amount. However, I would have preferred a weaker sauce applied in a more copious amount as the roll teetered on being dry. Notice also that the roll has pink rice! This is the only restaurant to feature pink rice, which is made by adding fruit and vegetable extractions to make it more healthy. The flakes were extra crunchy, the tempura prawns were flavoury and soft, while the unagi shyly hid behind the prawn.

Next, I got the Appetizer Sashimi, which came with two pieces of salmon sashimi and two pieces of tuna sashimi.

Salmon Sashimi - A-
Tuna Sashimi - B+

Both the Salmon Sashimi and Tuna Sashimi were cut neatly into pieces that were quite large. There was nothing amiss about the taste of the Salmon Sashimi, which despite its large size, had a very soft and smooth texture throughout. The Tuna Sashimi was tougher in the middle, but soft on the outside and tasted fresh just like the salmon.

Chopped Scallop Temaki - C-

I guess out of all the temaki (hand rolled sushi cones) that I could choose from, I just had to choose the wrong one. The chopped scallop had way too much mayonnaise, which turned it into a bit of a creamy mess. The seaweed was one of the toughest I have ever had for temaki. (Maybe it was rolled too many times?) To top it all off, the chopped scallop tasted like chopped century egg. Whoops!

At the end of the meal I got a 5% discount! I have visited Okonomi Sushi previously and have usually gotten discounts of various amounts, though I have not managed to figure out what their discount rules are. Consistent with my previous visits, their portion sizes tend to be at least average in size if not larger. It seems that they also have plans to open an Izakaya soon with extended hours.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Episode #14: The Eatery

Vancouver (Northwest), $$ (Moderately Priced)
www.theeatery.ca

The Eatery, a Japanese restaurant located on the West side of Kitsilano, is known for its funky, creative dishes and is quite popular with UBC students. Since I always enjoy food that demonstrates creativity, I decided to go all the way out to Kitsilano to give The Eatery a try. I arrived a few minutes before opening time today, and saw a sign outside warning people that their sushi is addictive. Being quite the sushiholic myself, I had no trouble relating to that.


A few minutes later, I walked inside to find quiet music playing in the background, as well as lots and lots of various papier mâché and plastic decorations covering the ceiling. I found a life-sized Astro Boy figure as well as some glow-in-the-dark items among these. Oh look, there's Bruce from Finding Nemo!


The inside of the restaurant seemed a bit like an adults-only arcade to me. The atmosphere was very casual and the waitresses had no uniforms, wearing your regular street clothes. The furniture was slightly worn out, giving the restaurant a retro feel. I felt like the servers either had a bad day today, or were simply not ready to serve customers at 4:30. It took me a while to flag a server to take my order, and when one finally noticed, she told her colleague, "Someone's ready to order." Her colleague slowly got up from her chair and took my order. Then, my first two orders arrived after a short wait, which were hurriedly placed on my table without a word.

Flamed Sushi - B+

The Flamed Sushi came with 3 pieces of blow torched salmon belly, accompanied with unagi sauce and some sprinkles of peppers. The sushi ended up being spicier and sweeter than your average seared sushi. The salmon was completely seared, mostly successfully, and had no raw (marbled) parts. The rice was warm (normal for seared sushi), but a little lacking in taste.

Electric Banana Roll - B

The Electric Banana Roll consisted of eel and avocado on the inside and tempura banana on the outside. The tempura banana was amazingly soft and was quite sweet, which kind of matched the mildly sweet interior. I say "kind of" because personally, I felt that the sweetness of the banana took all the attention from the unagi and avocado inside, but perhaps to good cause. The unagi was slightly lacking in sauce and had a fatty texture. The avocado looked just a hair overripe under the dim light, but in terms of taste, this was barely noticeable.

At this point, the sound controller suddenly turned the music louder, so now, it felt even more like an arcade.

Yaki Tori - B-

The Yaki Tori came with 3 chicken skewers with honey soya sauce. At $5.25 for three full-sized skewers, this dish is quite the value dish. The skewers themselves consisted only of chicken, but there was a thin bed of lettuce underneath. The outside layer of the chicken exhibited some toughness, but the inside was tender. There was a good amount of sauce accompanying the skewers, though I would have preferred a milder sauce. The lettuce underneath was cut very thin, but remained crunchy enough for me to easily pick them up using the skewers.

Nobashi Prawns - C+

My meal seemed to be gradually getting worse. On the menu, the Nobashi Prawns were described as lightly battered tiger prawns, served with Thai chili sauce. It was more like "heavily and unevenly battered tiger prawns". There were parts where the shrimp was exposed and parts where the batter was so thick that I could no longer taste the shrimp inside. This was disappointing as the prawns inside were actually quite good, and the Thai chili sauce matched well with the prawns, giving them a sweet and not overwhelmingly spicy taste.

I wanted my meal to end on a high note, so I tried to order something simple, hoping that it would be executed right. 

Toro Nigiri - C

The Toro Nigiri came with two decent-sized pieces of soft tuna belly. The tuna tasted quite fishy with a metallic zing and a rubbery twang mixed in. Unfortunately, that was the least of the nigiri's problems. You know those clumps of dried rice clinging to the rice cooker after you have scooped all of the rice out? I found one of those in my nigiri! It was so unchewable that I had to spit it out, and the server didn't even stop to wonder why there was a clump of rice left on the dish when I handed it back to her. 

I had good service in the middle of my meal, but the service started out and ended poorly. I tried to give the server a large bill so that I could get some coins to ride the West Coast Express later. The server responded by showing me the two $5 bills she had and told me that was all the change she could give. I highly doubt that the restaurant had no coins whatsoever, so it came off to me like she wanted a very large tip off of me, which would have been fine with me if the service had been decent from beginning to end. However, it wasn't, and in the end, I gave her tips that reflected the quality of service I received. I hope that The Eatery was just having a bad day, but with my experience today, I have little reason to return and try the rest of their creative dishes.

The Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 18 July 2014

Episode #13: Nao Sushi

Burnaby South, $ (Budget)
www.naosushi.ca

I was originally planning to visit The Eatery in Kitsilano, but as I was getting there, the Skytrain suddenly stopped. The train I was in suddenly tilted while 10 meters in the air, and I wondered if it was going to fall off the tracks. After a few minutes of wondering, I got bored, whipped out my laptop, and played games on it for an hour before being let out of the stuffy train.

Now an hour and a half behind schedule, with the Skytrain system down and the bus stations a mess, I decided to just take whatever bus I could to leave New West, and the closest Japanese restaurant along my route happened to be Nao Sushi. Nao Sushi is a moderately-sized Japanese-run restaurant (yes, it is authentic!). It is frequented by many Japanese people who live nearby. Despite the restaurant being nearly full, I was served in a courteous and timely manner.

 Ankimo - A

Ankimo (monkfish liver) is a delicacy in Japan and I was pleased to find it offered for $3.50. It came with two pieces of Ankimo in a ponzu sauce with sake (rice wine) mixed in. The ponzu sauce was quite acidic and helped accentuate the flavour of the very soft Ankimo, which tasted like a very unique amalgamation of clam and salmon.

Yakitori - B+

The Yakitori came with two small chicken skewers and had tender white meat and was evenly seasoned with teriyaki sauce. The leeks were quite juicy, but some parts of the chicken were excessively charred.

Ebi Mayo - A-

The Ebi Mayo came with four shrimps and it looked like it was going to be excessively crunchy. However, as soon as I bit into it, it was some of the softest batter I have had for an Ebi Mayo. The shrimps were curiously curled around themselves. The fries underneath were made of flour and reminded me of sesame crackers (the Chinese New Year snack). The batter on the prawns had the same sesame cracker essense, but this was alleviated by the mayonnaise.

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

The Dragon Roll consisted of unagi (BBQ eel), cucumber, avocado and masago. The unagi sauce was applied well and the unagi inside was very rich in flavour and tasted freshly grilled. Overall, the roll had a soft texture and the avocado on top had the right amount of sauce drizzled on top of it. However, the rice was a bit mushy, which kind of detracted from the excellent unagi inside.

Then, as I was eating the roll, I noticed that the very modest-looking seared nigiri smelled like it was going to be very, very good. The waitress recommended Seared Saba (mackerel) out of the choices for seared nigiri, so I gave it a try. Holy mackerel, it was good! It was quite soft for mackerel and not excessively salty (ahem, some Japanese restaurants). The sushi rice was soft, had a good amount of vinegar and was not falling apart. Next, I had the Seared Salmon, which came with a very large piece of salmon. It was stiff enough that when I picked it up, the "tail" of the nigiri kept its shape. The salmon had a nice lightly charred taste, but it desperately needed seasoning or sauce. Then, I had the Seared Toro Nigiri ...

It was so soft, so juicy, and seared so perfectly that I just had to order another one:


The second time around, it had a little too much rice compared to fish ... maybe they thought I wasn't full and wanted to make sure I left the restaurant feeling full and satisfied? I'll give them that the fish was still just as good as before.

Well, is authentic Japanese food better than non-authentic Japanese food? Not always, but in the case of Nao Sushi, I would say the answer is yes. And yes, I did leave full and satisfied.

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

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Episode #12: Seh-Mi Japanese Restaurant

Langley, $$ (Moderately Priced)
www.seh-mi.com

Today, I happened to be in Langley and I happened to be wanting sushi for lunch. Not only did I forget my bus schedule at home, but I also left the house without even looking up the address for a single Japanese restaurant. So, I chose a restaurant the old-fashioned way - just walk into the first Japanese restaurant I see! After 20 minutes of walking in bright sunshine (I also forgot my sunscreen), I finally found one - Seh-Mi Japanese Restaurant.

The restaurant was moderately sized and looked promising. The service was welcoming from the moment I stepped in. The food also came very quickly, and I got a complimentary Miso Soup!

Miso Soup - A-

The Miso Soup had small bits of green onion and tofu. It was served hot, not too salty, and had a simple and homemade feel to it.

I was asked by my server if I would like my Ice Cream Tempura as an appetizer or a dessert. I said dessert, but it still came first (somebody else brought it out to me). Oh well ...

Ice Cream Tempura - B+

The Ice Cream Tempura came with 6 lollipop-shaped pieces of tempura. The batter was flaky while the vanilla ice cream remained cold but soft. The chocolate sauce was a clever addition, which made the batter sweet enough to harmonize well with the ice cream. It really would have made a nice dessert.

Next, I ordered the Lunch Special Box B and it came like this:


The waitress who handed me this lunch box exclaimed "BEEEEEE!!!" with a smile as she placed it on my table. Uhh ... what? Anyways, I found it kind of amusing and in addition, the lunch box was huge! I started to worry about how I was going to finish everything. For $9.99, this lunch box is a very good deal at least in terms of quantity. Let's see how the individual parts fared:

Prawn Tempura - B
Vegetable Tempura - C

The prawns were very soft and I liked the snap they provided. I also liked how the batter did not mush together with the prawns. The pumpkin (Kabocha) and the radish tasted mildly bitter rather than mildly sweet, and I guess they did try to remedy this ... by using an overly salty dipping sauce. There were copious amounts of batter on each piece of tempura, and the frying was a bit overdone.

Tai Sashimi - C-
Salmon Sashimi - C+
Tuna Sashimi - B+

All of the sashimi was well cut and presented nicely for a bento box. The Tai Sashimi was tough and then when I tried to eat it, it literally disintegrated into mashed potatoes inside my mouth. In both texture and taste. I couldn't bring myself to eat the other piece, so I moved on to the Salmon Sashimi. The Sockeye Salmon Sashimi was a bit better, but lacked an even texture (some parts were more jelly-like than other parts). The Tuna Sashimi was the best of the lot, and although it was quite salty, it was soft and fresh enough to melt in my mouth.

Salad - B

I liked how they used the softer part of the lettuce in this particular salad, and the small bowl they put it in made it more visually appealing. The Japanese salad dressing was a little underwhelming, and not quite enough to mask the slight bitter taste of the lettuce.

Chicken Teriyaki - B-

The Chicken Teriyaki was moderately tender, and to my relief, the skin wasn't grilled rock hard. In fact, it was quite soft and I found the teriyaki sauce quite appetizing. The teriyaki sauce also went very well with the lettuce and the bean sprouts underneath. The taste of the chicken could have been less bland. Both the teriyaki and the rice were served warm, and I would say they were quite generous with the rice and the teriyaki.

 Millionaire's Roll - B

The Millionaire's Roll consisted of crab stick tempura, cucumber, lettuce, crab meat, seared and seasoned tuna, and unagi sauce. This roll had the same diameter as my fist! The tuna was lightly marinated and then lightly seared. The unagi sauce helped bring out the flavouring of the tuna. The crab meat with crab stick tempura tasted like a lot of crab meat inside with some crunch added in. Then, I noticed the small envelope taped to the left side of the dish.

I opened it and found ...


... a lottery ticket! So that's why it was called the Millionaire's Roll! The waitress and I exchanged smiles upon my discovery of the lottery ticket. Then, I got another piece of Ice Cream Tempura, for dessert this time! I had no idea how to play the game on my lottery ticket, so I took it over to Save-on-Foods, which was just a few steps away. The lady at the lottery counter and I exchanged a conversation that went approximately like this:

"Oh hi, how can I help you?"

"Oh yeah, I just received this lottery ticket. I don't know what to do with it."

"Oh, you just scratch it."

"Scratch which part? All of the flames? Or just some of them?"

"All of them?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, all of them. By the way, how did you get the ticket?"

"Oh, I received it as a prize from Seh-Mi nearby."

"Oh, that's an excellent restaurant."

(I took some time to reflect on this comment ... then I realized that Seh-Mi was indeed good compared to other Japanese restaurants I have tried in Langley.)

"You will need someone older than you to cash that ticket."

"What?"

"You have to be 19."

Sigh ... I showed her my ID and her expression was one of genuine shock. It was priceless to watch. I mean, seriously, I am going into my fourth year of university! Then, I moved over to the side and scratched all the flames as told. And OMG, I ACTUALLY WON SOMETHING!!! Even though it was very, very small, it totally made my day. Thank you, Seh-Mi!

Seh-Mi Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Episode #11: Hi Sushi

New Westminster, $$ (Moderately Priced)

A new Japanese restaurant opened up in New Westminster just over two months ago by the name of Hi Sushi. And yes, I did notice their 100% rating on Urbanspoon. Being curious as to how they got the 100%, I decided to give this restaurant a try. As I walked in, I noticed the large amount of Korean spoken between the staff and the regulars. I also noticed the interesting text on the wall. One side says:

hi1/ha l/
interjection
(used as an exclamation of greeting); hello!

... with some more text under that. The other side looked like this:

 
Judging from the text on the wall, I'll assume that "Hi" (as in the greeting) is the correct way to pronounce the first word.

 Miso Soup - B+

Soon after placing my order, I received a complimentary Miso Soup (courtesy of the house), which kept me well-entertained before my first dish came. The Miso Soup was garnished with green onion and tofu. It was slightly heavy on the salt, but there was a good balance of miso paste and dashi broth.

Salmon with Topping Nigiri - C+
Toro Nigiri - A-
Seasoned Tuna Tataki Nigiri - B

The Seasoned Tuna Tataki Nigiri was dressed with spices and some pepper, which helped give it a torched taste. Unfortunately, the seasoning made the nigiri taste very salty and the tuna tataki lacked moisture. The Toro Nigiri came with good quality sushi rice under a piece of fresh and remarkably soft toro. The toro was also cut very thin, so you would taste more rice than fish. The Salmon with Topping Nigiri came with questionable toppings. Onions? Did they get that idea from Tairyou Ichiba? The white dressing on top is a chilled apple sauce, which has a mildly sweet taste.

 Torch Roll - A-

The Torch Roll came with crab meat, prawn tempura, avocado, tuna, salmon, fried green onion and house sauce. The whole roll is then lightly torched to give it an appetizing, seared taste. The crab meat had a desirable sweet taste and the prawn inside was almost as soft as amaebi (raw sweet shrimp). Some of the pieces had crunchy tempura whereas some pieces did not. The house sauce is a Japanese hot sauce mixed with a light teriyaki sauce. Overall, there was a good balance of flavours, especially with the crab meat and prawn tempura inside the roll.

Yakitori - A-

I must say, these skewers are huge! In fact, the ingredients were so heavy that the wooden stick started to bend. Pineapples are one of my favourite fruits, and I was pleased to see that a small piece of pineapple was the first thing on the skewer. The chicken itself was tender and tasty, with a slightly harder exterior from being grilled. The bell peppers and onions had the right amount of chewiness. The only issue I had was that oil was dripping from the skewers ...

The service from the waitress was quite attentive, and she really tried to make my visit as enjoyable as possible. I had also ordered the Ebi Mayo, which was prepared incorrectly (they forgot to remove the shrimp shell). The waitress noticed something wrong as she saw my face while I was eating it, and promptly apologized and took it off my bill without me asking. There have been many cases in which I had incorrectly prepared food from a restaurant, but this one was dealt with by far the most efficiently. If I did not have an appointment right after, I would have ordered the dish again because it looked quite promising. In either case, I highly commend the waitress for her excellent service.

With fantastic service and mostly well-prepared food, I can see why Hi Sushi has a 100% rating on Urbanspoon. Another reason might be that anyone who writes a review for them on Urbanspoon or Yelp during their visit receives a free Chicken Karaage (offer valid as of the date of my visit)! Too bad I have a Samsung Galaxy Ace, and it would have taken me a full 45 minutes (lag time counted) and some expletives just to write a one- or two-sentence review. Chicken Karaage or not, they deserve both a review and a like from me on Urbanspoon.

Hi Sushi Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Episode #10: Sushiyama

Vancouver (Northeast), $ (Budget)

I have been a regular at Sushiyama for the past three years, ever since discovering it during one of my earliest excursions on checking out Vancouver's sushi restaurants. For most people, the food they serve satisfies in terms of both quality and quantity. As such, there is often a line-up at the door on most nights (including weekdays), and occasionally during lunch as well. Some of my friends have reported having to wait for a table even at 9:00 p.m., though usually, waits only occur between 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. for dinner.

Today, it was such a hot day in Vancouver (32 degrees!) that my parents and I decided that there was no other choice but to eat Japanese food. The sushi bar is located right inside the front entrance, with regular seating to the right and to the left. The atmosphere is usually quite lively due to the large number of customers and servers. The food also comes out quickly, and without much of a wait, our first dish came.

Caterpillar Roll - A
Toro Nigiri - B+
Sake Toro Nigiri - B-

The Caterpillar Roll was excellent in terms of taste and comes with cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise, crab meat, unagi, and BBQ sauce. The savoury BBQ sauce was applied in just the right amount to bring out the flavours of the unagi and the crab meat inside the roll. The crab and unagi were very well balanced, and neither dominated the other. The roll was also remarkably soft, making it easy to chew and taste the different flavours.

The Toro Nigiri was mostly soft and melty and came on a bed of soft sushi rice. There was some slight toughness in the toro. The Salmon Toro Nigiri was smooth and marbly, but mostly tough. A small portion of the Salmon Toro Nigiri was not tough and had a nice, sweetish, slightly avocado-like taste compared to regular salmon nigiri.

Red Dragon Roll - A-

The Red Dragon Roll consists of unagi tempura, avocado and salmon. This roll is usually served with cream cheese and I have tried this roll both with cream cheese and without - I personally like it served without cream cheese better. Now, for this roll, if you're lucky to get the piece with the unagi tempura sticking out, take a bite out of just the unagi tempura. The unagi tastes freshly barbecued and the light batter adds a hint of crunchiness to it. The salmon gives a smoother texture on top and in about two of the pieces, the salmon was slightly too tough.

Salmon Sashimi - B
Tuna Sashimi - B+

One thing you will notice right away about the sashimi is that the portions are huge! You can easily take one piece of sashimi and split it into two normal-sized ones. This is what drives my friends and family here all the time. The sashimi is quite fresh (this is perhaps due to the large number of customers). The Salmon Sashimi was mostly soft, though was cut a little too close to the edges. The edges were tougher and comparatively more bland, but overall, the salmon was tasty. The Tuna Sashimi was softer, but could benefit from tasting a little less salty.

My parents are a big fan of cooked food, so we ordered two cooked items - the Katsu Don and the Beef Udon. 

Katsu Don - A-

Despite its modest appearance, the Katsu Don is not only a good value at $6.25, but also quite a solid dish (or should I say bowl?). A bowl of miso soup also comes with the Katsu Don. The Katsu Don was served with some egg, onions, mushrooms and tempura bits. The sauce was evenly spread out throughout the rice so that neither the rice nor the egg were bland at all. The egg was also very soft, which made it blend in successfully with the rice. The pork cutlet was a tad too tough, but I really liked the tempura bits, whose crunch contrasted well with the softer rice.

Beef Udon - A

The Beef Udon is served with some spinach, carrot, broccoli and enoki mushrooms in addition to the beef and the udon. The udon noodles have just the right amount of chewiness and the beef had a mostly soft and flaky texture. The soup, which had the savouriness of the beef blended into it, tasted plain awesome.

If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, I could recommend no place better than Sushiyama. I once brought in a party of 9 and treated them all for dinner because it was my birthday. I told them all to eat as much as they can, and the bill stayed south of $150. Not only is this a savings of 25% compared to an all-you-can-eat place, but the food is much more than 25% better than even a good all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant. 

Sushiyama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato