After school had started and Katie had received her Compass Card, one of the first things on her mind was to go on a sushi adventure with me. We ended up selecting Sushi Garden, which is perhaps the busiest Japanese restaurant on Kingsway. We arrived at 2:45 p.m. with hopes that the restaurant would be less busy and more able to provide us with good service. Our hopes were quashed when we opened the door to find that the restaurant was 90% full and as loud as ever. On the bright side, at least they had an empty table for us.
Sushi Garden is Korean-operated and is one of Metro Vancouver's most popular places for budget sushi. They had raised the prices slightly since my previous visit, but it appears that this has done virtually nothing to curb the number of diners. Perhaps what will actually do the trick is their plan to open a third location closer to Highgate Village.
Miso Soup - A-
Since Katie wanted sashimi and I had no idea what I wanted, we decided to get the Love Boat. The first item to arrive was the Miso Soup, which was garnished with tofu, green onion, and copious amounts of bean curd. The bean curd gave the Miso Soup a rich flavour, and both of us liked how the soup was not too salty.
Alaska Roll - A-
The Alaska Roll is not part of the Love Boat, but I felt compelled to order it since it is one of the most well-received items at Sushi Garden. The Alaska Roll came with avocado, tobiko, and salmon and was dressed with a Japanese salad dressing (an apple-based vinaigrette). The salad dressing went very well with the soft, creamy avocado and enhanced the flavour of the smooth salmon. My only concern was that the roll looked a little unappetizing, and I had to persuade Katie to try it.
If our definition of a boat is anything that looks like it may float, then I suppose this can be called a Love Boat. That being said, the Love Boat contained a massive amount of food, which included 18 pieces of sashimi (21 if each of the amaebi shrimps counts as one piece), 8 pieces of nigiri sushi, 10 pieces of makizushi (rolls), and 2 orange desserts.
Amaebi Sashimi - A-
Hokkigai Sashimi - B
Tako Sashimi - B-
Tai Sashimi - B+
Salmon Sashimi - B+
Tuna Sashimi - A-
We dove right into the sashimi and quickly noticed that most of the pieces were quite big. The Amaebi Sashimi was fresh with a creamy texture and a sweet flavour. The Hokkigai Sashimi was cut into smaller pieces but was sufficiently sweet. The Tako Sashimi was overly chewy and thick, but not too salty. The smooth Tai Sashimi was rich in flavour. The Tuna Sashimi was quite soft and was fresher than the Salmon Sashimi.
Chopped Scallop Nigiri - B+
Hokkigai Nigiri - B-
Salmon Nigiri - B+
Tuna Nigiri - B
Ebi Nigiri - B-
My favourite piece of nigiri was the Chopped Scallop Nigiri, which was creamy, sweet, and contained soft scallops whose flavour was enhanced by the masago. Katie had the Hokkigai Nigiri, which she thought was a bit tough. The Salmon Nigiri and the Tuna Nigiri came with really big portions of fish, while the Ebi Nigiri was quite chewy and sweet.
California Roll - C+
Salmon Roll - C
Tuna Roll - C
Unfortunately, the rolls in the Love Boat did a good job of showcasing the poor sushi rice. The sushi rice tasted like dried-up soggy rice, or in other words, ochazuke gone wrong. It reminded me of T&T's sushi rice. The cucumber overpowered the other ingredients in the California Roll, while the sushi rice overpowered the fish in the Salmon Roll and the Tuna Roll.
Orange Dessert - B
The Orange Dessert was presented nicely. The orange was juicy, but was neither particularly sweet nor sour.
The service was a little sparse, but I found that acceptable since the restaurant was quite busy. However, towards the end of the meal, after the restaurant became half-empty, I was given the bill before I asked for it, without any word or explanation. This happened at the North Burnaby location, and it happened again here. Why do they keep doing that? In the end, it seems that the low prices (even after the price increase) are the restaurant's biggest virtue.