Sunday, August 23, 2015

Episode #112: Kamei Royale

Vancouver (West End), $$$$ (Luxury)

One fine morning, I woke up and got ready for a highly expensive and luxurious lunch at Fairmont Pacific Rim's RawBar. Out of convenience, I went to SFU to purchase my textbooks and pay my tuition for next semester prior to having lunch. I clearly did not think things through. First, carrying a backpack full of heavy textbooks into a fancy restaurant felt about as right as giving a formal presentation in my pajamas. Second, I was feeling light in the wallet region after paying an arm and a leg for tuition as well as ten sushi adventures' worth of money on three textbooks. In the end, I lugged my bulky textbooks into Kamei Royale instead.

Kamei Royale is located on the second floor of the Burrard Building and is the largest Japanese restaurant in Greater Vancouver with the ability to accommodate upwards of 250 guests. The colossal dining area features bar seating, tatami rooms, and regular tables. I would say that the ambience at Kamei Royale is my favourite among all the sushi restaurants I have been to. The noise level is just right, the amount of spacing between the seats is just right, and the amount of activity is just right.

One of the things on my bucket list was to eat an entire boat of Japanese food all by myself, which I fulfilled by ordering the Unaju & Sashimi Boat ($17.95). This was actually easier to accomplish than I had previously thought.

Miso Soup - A

The Unaju & Sashimi Boat also came with a Miso Soup, which contained green onion, seaweed, and tofu. The miso paste was quite rich with a tasty seaweed essence. 

Goma-Ae - B-

The Goma-Ae was less impressive and served with too little sesame sauce. Although the spinach was easy to chew, it tasted almost like plain spinach.

Tuna Sashimi - A
Salmon Sashimi - A

The sashimi was very fresh and displayed superior knife skills. The salmon had a delicious creamy flavour, and the tuna was soft enough to melt in my mouth. The thickness of each piece was just right. This was the best part of the whole boat.

Unaju - B+

Here's a fun fact: BBQ Eel on Rice is known as Unadon if served in a bowl and Unaju if served in a box. Technically, this one was served in a box-shaped bowl, but Kamei Royale went with Unaju anyways (as "Unajon" doesn't sound very Japanese). Naming aside, the BBQ eel had a soft texture and was savoury with the added seaweed and sesame seeds on top. There was ample unagi sauce for the unagi, but it would be nice if there was a bit more sauce for the hot steamed rice as well.

Prawn & Vegetable Tempura - B-

I really liked the dipping sauce for the Prawn & Vegetable Tempura, which was cleverly infused with minuscule pieces of radish to enhance flavour. The Prawn & Vegetable Tempura itself consisted of two prawns, one piece of green pepper, and two pieces of sweet potato. The prawns were the best of the bunch. The main issue with the tempura was the lack of crispiness in the batter. The batter was soft like bread in most places but as hard as a crouton in others. 

House Roll - B+

The final part of my lunch involved two gigantic pieces of the House Roll, which consisted of a ton of crab meat, tamago, avocado, tobiko, and cucumber. The imitation crab meat was sufficiently sweet with the correct amount of mayonnaise. I tried to eat one whole piece at a time, but my efforts were futile (each piece was about three or four mouthfuls for me). After finishing all the crab smithereens that fell out as I was eating the roll, I was nearly full and unable to finish another main dish.

The service wasn't fine-dining quality, but it was friendly and pleasant. Overall, the food was decent (other than the tempura) and most of the prices on the menu were reasonable considering the location. The only things that seemed very expensive were the nigiri sushi and sashimi if ordered separately. Now, with my mission to consume an entire boatload of Japanese food complete, I shall add eating a sushi boat for two all by myself onto my to-do list. Yes, challenge accepted!

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