Kita no Donburi is a very popular place to have lunch for everyone who just happens to be in downtown during lunch hours. The last time I visited Kita no Donburi was a few months ago, when I was working on a group project at SFU's downtown campus. We were only taking a 15-minute break, so I had to order takeout. Although Kita no Donburi is very efficient at preparing food, I took much longer than 15 minutes to return to the meeting. Furthermore, because my lunch set consisted of many separate items, I took up more than my fair share of the table and made loud crunching sounds (with the tempura) while my teammates were discussing the next steps of our project. Of course, I didn't catch anything that was said. I am, without a doubt, an excellent team member.
Since my takeout order ended up being better than I had expected, I decided to make a return visit and order the same lunch set (the Wahoo Shokuya), this time sitting inside the restaurant. Kita no Donburi is almost like a full-service restaurant, but you order and pay at the front counter. There are a lot of donburi rice bowls to choose from, but they also have a page of innovative special rolls. On the other hand, there are neither standard rolls (ex. California Roll, Dynamite Roll, etc.) nor standard nigiri sushi on the menu.
Miso Soup - B-
The Wahoo Shokuya lunch set came with a bowl of Miso Soup, some Aburi Nigiri Sushi, some Tempura, some Sashimi, and a small bowl of Soba (and unfortunately, no wahoo). The Miso Soup came with green onion and seaweed and was visibly watery. I stirred it around as much as I could before taking this photo. Most of the flavour seemed to came from salt rather than miso paste.
Tempura - B+
Next, the all-vegetable Tempura came with one piece each of squash, yam, and purple yam as well as two pieces of sweet potato. I think they were out of lotus root, so they had to replace it with an extra piece of sweet potato instead. The batter was thin but hard in places, while the dipping sauce was tangy with a mirin-like flavour. Whether the dipping sauce went well or not with the tempura was debatable. Each of the pieces had a good amount of moisture, and the flavours of the ingredients were preserved well. The purple yam and the yam were the best of the bunch.
Aburi Saba Nigiri - B-
Aburi Tuna Nigiri - A-
Aburi Salmon Nigiri - B+
The three pieces of Aburi (seared) sushi came in a small bowl. I would have preferred a dish instead, because the bowl made it really hard to pick up the pieces without destroying them. The fish-to-rice ratio was good for all three pieces, but if you are looking for an Aburi flavour, you might be disappointed. The saba (mackerel) in the Aburi Saba Nigiri was rather tough, but not too salty, and the tiny garnish on top was very savoury and tangy (I couldn't quite figure out what it was). The Aburi Tuna Nigiri, dressed with a brushing of unagi sauce, had a nice soft texture. The Aburi Salmon Nigiri was served with sockeye salmon and was deliciously smooth.
Hokkigai Sashimi - B
Ika Sashimi - B+
Tuna Sashimi - B
Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - B+
Salmon Sashimi - B+
The Hokkigai (surf clam) Sashimi had a slightly sweet flavour and was quite chewy. The Ika (squid) Sashimi was cut to the right thickness and had the normal sticky texture for ika. The piece of Tuna Sashimi was ridiculously small (it was smaller than my thumb). It had a soft texture, but had a very slight fishy flavour. Both the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi and the Salmon Sashimi were soft and had smooth textures.
Soba - B+
The Soba consisted of soba noodles, green onion, and seaweed. I was instructed by the server to use the same dipping sauce for the Tempura and the Soba, but I thought the sauce went better with the Soba. The noodles were soft and easy to chew. Like most of the cold soba dishes I've had, the soba was not particularly rich in flavour, so the seaweed was essential in livening up the flavours. If only there was more seaweed...
Hanabi Roll - B+
I still wasn't full, so I asked the server which roll she thought I should try (out of a few rolls that I picked). She then ordered the Hanabi Roll for me, which consisted of salmon, mayonnaise, unagi, avocado, cucumber, red and white onion, masago, tobiko, soft white sauce, aburi sauce, and olive oil. The salmon was baked and went well with the avocado, while the red onion provided a unique, subtle zing. The only issue I had with the roll was that the olive oil made the bottom of the roll a bit soggy.
The server/cashier was quite attentive, and the food came out really quickly. The whole lunch set only took a little more than five minutes to arrive. A lot of the food is quite innovative, and for the most part, the extra touches worked well. The prices are reasonable compared to nearby restaurants, but I found the portion sizes quite small. Interestingly, the number of calories for each dish is indicated on the menu, which led me to the revelation that I could eat 1,783 calories of food at a time without feeling very full. Uh oh...