Sushi Van is one of the newest additions to Vancouver's vast assortment of Japanese restaurants and is conveniently located at the intersection of Granville St. and Broadway. I got off the Skytrain at Cambie St. and Broadway and intended to walk over, when I realized that the walk was much longer than I anticipated. Conveniently, the pollen in the air had my allergy senses tingling. When I finally arrived at the restaurant, I noticed that it was Korean-operated and sat slightly underground, but the seating space inside is ample and cozy.
I was attracted to Sushi Van after reading their menu online and discovering their repertoire of unique special rolls. Who doesn't want to try a Sushi Risotto, a Burning Love Roll, or even a Nude Boy Roll? In addition to their special rolls, they also offer dishes in every major category of Japanese food from teriyaki to tempura to udon. Every time I visit a Japanese restaurant, I always want to try food from every category, but it is a sad truth that I am human and can only eat so much food.
They also have one of the best ideas in town for presenting a menu - who would have thought of using a photo album with pink flowers on the front?
Salmon Sashimi - B
Tuna Sashimi - C+
Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - A-
White Tuna Sashimi - A
The Assorted Sashimi A ($8) came with 8 pieces of sashimi for an astonishingly low price. At $1 a piece (and with sockeye involved), I was literally expecting eraser-sized cuts, but the portions somehow ended up being on the generous side. The Salmon Sashimi had a good texture, but the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi had a significantly better flavour. The Tuna Sashimi was unfortunately not fully thawed (how does this happen to me three adventures in a row?!) and had a bit of an icy taste. However, the White Tuna Sashimi (which is actually escolar) was near perfect with a well-balanced level of saltiness and a texture that was like tai (snapper) but much softer.
Note to readers: Escolar Sashimi (often labelled as white tuna) is very tasty but there are risks associated with consuming significant quantities of it. Refrain from eating more than 6 oz. (about 3 to 4 pieces) at a time.
Burning Love Roll - B+
After spending too much time mulling over which special roll to choose, I settled with the Burning Love Roll, which was made with avocado, cucumber, tamago, crab meat, seared salmon, green onion, and sweet chili spicy sauce. The roll ended up being moderately spicy with pleasantly soft textures. The salmon had a nice smoked flavour, but this was somewhat covered up by the bold, attention-grabbing spicy sauce.
Takoyaki - A-
The Takoyaki had a nice crispy outer layer and the amount of sauce was just right. In addition to being presented neatly, I liked how the small piece of octopus inside was well-defined.
Ebi Mayo - C+
The Ebi Mayo came with 4 large meaty (and chewy) prawns. For some reason, everything other than the sauce and the lettuce leaves tasted quite bland. It was as if the prawns had no flavour to begin with.
The service was friendly and sufficient, while the food mostly decent with a few hits and misses. The prices are surprisingly good when taking into consideration all of the different factors (location, quality, etc.). Furthermore, they are the only Japanese restaurant I have seen in the Lower Mainland to serve White Tuna Sashimi (escolar). If you go to Sushi Van, there is a good chance that you'll see something on the menu that you have never seen at any other sushi restaurant before.