Touted by many to be the best in Maple Ridge, Sushi Bar Iori, a small Korean-operated Japanese restaurant, became my next target for my series of Maple Ridge sushi adventures. As their name suggests, they focus mainly on sushi and do not serve cooked items or noodles. Unfortunately, I was stuck in a traffic jam and arrived exactly when their break (from 3:00 to 3:45 p.m.) started. I had to temporarily keep my palate entertained at Yumi's Frozen Yogurt next door. Afterward, since I was in a hurry, I snapped a photo of the menu that was taped to the door and proceded to think about my order inside the small shopping mall to which the restaurant was attached.
Appetizer Tempura - B+
The Appetizer Tempura came with 3 prawns and 3 pieces of yam (even though the menu only says 2 pieces of yam). I was surprised that this would be the first item to arrive, but I was glad that it came out in less than 10 minutes. It wasn't fine-dining quality, but the tempura was mostly decent. The prawns were meaty enough and the yam was cut to the right thickness with sufficient sweetness. The dipping sauce has a nice mild hint of ginger.
Barbie Roll - A-
I wanted to try their seared stuff, so I went with the Barbie Roll, which consisted of prawn, crab meat, asparagus, seared wild salmon and avocado. The roll was cleanly cut and well-presented. The sesame added flavour and the salmon was seared the right amount. The sauce applied was just barely enough, and it helps if you slide the pieces around in the teriyaki and spicy mayonnaise sauce to capture more of its flavour. Despite its name, I think it tastes better than a Barbie, though I can't say for sure because I have never actually tasted a Barbie before. Maybe one day ...
Tuna Sashimi - B-
Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - B
Tai Sashimi - A-
Hokkigai Sashimi - A-
The Half Assorted Sashimi came with 3 pieces of Tuna Sashimi, 2 pieces of Sockeye Salmon Sashimi, 2 pieces of Tai Sashimi, and 2 pieces of Hokkigai Sashimi. The Tuna Sashimi was cut to the optimal thickness, but when I bit into it, I realized why it came last. In fact, they had been trying to thaw it on the counter for the duration of my meal, but when it came to me, two of the pieces were still half frozen. At least they tried. The Sockeye Salmon Sashimi was fresh, albeit sliced a little thick, making it a bit tough. The Tai Sashimi and the Hokkigai Sashimi were both decent and fresh.
The one waitress was enough to provide sufficient service to all of the tables. I enjoyed the freshness of the food and the neat presentation of each dish. The food at Sushi Bar Iori has a slightly more traditional Japanese feel than Shinobi. However, it is a bit questionable whether Iori or Shinobi serves better food overall. I would say that Iori has better consistency due to its limited menu, but there are some spectacular items at Shinobi that make neither restuarant a clear favourite over the other.