I've been hearing lots about Nu Chinese Bistro (in Richmond) lately, but the opening of Nu Sushi Bar seems to have just disappeared under the radar. Although it's not the most convenient place to bus to, the food appeared to be quite affordable, so I decided to give it a try. When I went inside, I found that the dining area wasn't particularly large, but they had a sizable beverage cooler with a large assortment of canned drinks, which included three different types of Crush soda. You know your sushi is going to be good when the drinks are displayed more prominently than the sushi.
There were too many things that looked like good deals on the menu, so I decided to do a Sushi-a-thon! On the first day, I decided to give the waitress a hard time by ordering a very random assortment of nigiri sushi. At first, the waitress seemed confident that she could remember my order, but by the time I got to nigiri #9 or so, she had to hurry back to the counter to grab a notebook. The things I do when I need a new Facebook cover photo...
I probably gave the sushi chef a hard time too, as it took around 20 minutes for the nigiri to arrive at my table. However, the platter of nigiri did make for a good photo. I like how they alternated the colours of the fish to make the dish more aesthetically pleasing.
Starting from the bottom:
Inari Nigiri - B-
Tai Nigiri - B-
Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - B
Tuna Nigiri - B+
Atlantic Salmon Nigiri - B
I started with the Inari Nigiri and enjoyed the small helping of sesame seeds that accompanied it. However, it was slightly weak in flavour. The Tai Nigiri was also weak in flavour, but it was moist and not too chewy. The Sockeye Salmon Nigiri and Tuna Nigiri were not rich in flavour either, but the Tuna Nigiri had a nice melty texture. The Atlantic Salmon Nigiri was buttery in flavour and had a nice smooth texture.
Toro Nigiri - A-
Saba Nigiri - A-
Amaebi Nigiri - B+
They ran out of hamachi, so they substituted toro instead (for the same price). I would have appreciated them asking me first, but what happened turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the toro was the best piece out of all the nigiri. It was fatty and deliciously smooth. I also enjoyed the Saba Nigiri, which was neither too salty nor too tough and had a rich but well-balanced flavour. The Amaebi Nigiri came with the characteristic slight stickiness as well as a sweet and creamy flavour.
Negitoro Nigiri - C+
Chopped Scallop - B
Ikura Nigiri - B
Unagi Nigiri - B+
I wasn't a big fan of the Negitoro Nigiri because it was overloaded with negi (green onion). There was more than enough green onion to completely mask the flavour of the toro, so it tasted like Negimush Nigiri instead. The Chopped Scallop Nigiri fared better, and the scallop had a smooth texture. The Ikura Nigiri contained lots of salmon roe, providing a nice, juicy pop. The Unagi Nigiri came with a generous portion of BBQ eel. It had a nice smoky flavour, but it would be nice if it had slightly more moisture.
Hawaii Roll - B+
Of course, 12 pieces of nigiri were not enough to satisfy my virtue of gluttony, so I had the Hawaii Roll, which consisted of cucumber, avocado, deep-fried soft-shell crab, mayonnaise, tobiko, masago, sesame seed, bonito, and special sauce. The soft-shell crab was fried to a crunchy and crispy texture. There was very little crab meat, but the crab shell and its surrounding batter were very rich in flavour due to the addition of copious amounts of seasoning. I liked how the roll was neatly constructed and how the creamy avocado balanced out the savoury interior of the roll.
On my second visit, I ordered the Bento Box #5, which came with an Appetizer Tempura, a Dynamite Roll, Deep-Fried Salmon Gyoza, BBQ Black Cod on Rice, and a Green Salad. The whole bento box cost only $10.50! I can't think of any other place where you can get black cod with so many other things for just $10.50. (Note that this is a lunch special.)
Appetizer Tempura - B-
The Appetizer Tempura came with two prawns and one piece each of zucchini, yam, and sweet potato. The prawns were the best as they were meaty and savoury. The tempura batter was crispy in some places, but soft and bread-like in most places. The zucchini was juicy but sliced way too thick. The yam and sweet potato were both sufficiently sweet, but both were a touch dry.
Dynamite Roll - C+
The Dynamite Roll came with five large pieces, and the best part of it was the creamy, sweet avocado. The sushi rice, for some odd reason, was almost completely tasteless. The lack of warmth from the prawn tempura made the roll taste pre-made.
Deep-Fried Salmon Gyoza - B+
Exhibiting a cracker-like, crispy exterior, the Deep-Fried Salmon Gyoza were stuffed with lots of cooked salmon and a few tiny bits of cabbage. The salmon filling had a good amount of moisture. The slightly sweet vinegar-based dipping sauce helped enhance the flavour of the cooked salmon.
BBQ Black Cod on Rice - A
The best part of the bento box was the BBQ Black Cod on Rice. The black cod was silky, soft, and juicy. What made the black cod especially tasty was a small but masterful dab of teriyaki sauce, which gave the cod a sweetness that was by no means overpowering.
Green Salad - B+
The Green Salad consisted of cabbage leaves dressed with a Japanese salad dressing (an apple and citrus vinaigrette) that was infused with a few subtle shavings of ginger. Since I have to eat so many Green Salads like this one (they're like the healthy but annoying side item that comes with almost every bento box), I appreciated the slight modification.
Tataki Roll - B-
I typically do not get full with just a bento box, so I decided to try the Tataki Roll, which consisted of cucumber, avocado, spicy tuna, seared tuna, tataki sauce, ponzu sauce, tobiko, masago, sesame seeds, and green onion. Whew, what a long list of items! I think the list was too long for the sushi chef to remember correctly, because the "spicy tuna" turned into regular tuna instead. As a result, the very tangy ponzu sauce easily overwhelmed all the ingredients of the roll. On the bright side, the tuna inside the roll was very soft and had a nice melty texture.
The waitress/cashier was quite friendly and attentive. Nu Sushi Bar is quite small and diners are expected to pay at the till, but besides that, the service was just as good as most other Japanese restaurants. Most of the dishes were of average quality, but the prices are definitely on the cheaper side. It seems that the special rolls come with 10 pieces too (rather than the typical 8). If you're not a picky eater, Nu Sushi Bar is one of those places you can keep visiting without breaking the bank.