Thursday, December 31, 2015

Episode #138: Ora Sushi

Steveston, Richmond, $$ (Moderately Priced)

As soon as I was all done with finals, I decided to do my first round of Christmas shopping at Oakridge Centre. Unfortunately, I seemed to have forgotten that Oakridge Centre is situated in a highly affluent part of Vancouver, and as such, the prices were nothing short of sky high. After haphazardly wandering around the exquisitely decorated Christmas displays for nearly an hour, I had bought exactly zero gifts and ended up staring at the pricey Ferraris while thinking about how poor I really was.

To solve the problem, I headed over to Steveston and entered a type of establishment I usually feel less poor in: the sushi restaurant. The first one I came across was Ora Sushi. A few months ago, I heard a rumour that Ora Sushi started when a chef was fired from Mega Sushi and decided to open his/her own restaurant with similar menu items but lower prices in an attempt to capture a part of Mega Sushi's clientele (I have not been able to verify this). Whether this is true or not, Ora Sushi was full of customers when I walked in, so whatever it was doing worked.

After a few moments of appreciating the modern decor, I was presented with the smallest teacup I have ever seen (loonie shown for comparison). It was absolutely adorable, but it could not even hold one single mouthful of tea! Thank goodness they also gave me the teapot, or I would have had to ask for my own dedicated waitress for the sole purpose of refilling my tea. By the end of my meal, I was convinced that my arm muscles had grown stronger by a few notches after a few intense sessions of teapot lifting.

Arriving in a timely manner, the Moncton Set was neatly plated with plenty of moisture on the tray.

California Roll (half order) - B

The California Roll was neatly constructed and the mayonnaise in the center provided a creamy texture. There was a decent amount of crab meat, but the ingredients were average in quality and essentially standard fare.

Chicken Teriyaki - A-

The Chicken Teriyaki came with a decent amount of tender chicken that exhibited a nice grilled flavour. The stir-fried vegetables underneath, being quite savoury, worked as a good complement to the chicken. 

Prawn Tempura - B+
Green Bean Tempura - C+
Kabocha Tempura - B-
Sweet Potato Tempura - B-

The Tempura came with one prawn and one piece each of green bean, kabocha, and sweet potato. The batter was laid on quite thickly, and the frying oil showed slight signs of overuse. The Prawn Tempura was the best of the bunch as the prawn was fresh and provided a nice burst of flavour. However, the flavour of the green bean was completely lost in the thick coating of batter. The kabocha was sufficiently soft but very thinly sliced. The sweet potato came in a large piece with adequate sweetness.

Tai Sashimi - B+
Tuna Sashimi - C
Hokkigai Sashimi - B-
Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - A-

The Assorted Sashimi came with three pieces of tai, three pieces of tuna, one piece of hokkigai, and three pieces of sockeye salmon. The tai came with an appealing light pink hue and was not too chewy with a mildly sweet flavour. Unfortunately, the tuna did not taste very fresh and had a strong fishy flavour. The Hokkigai was chewy and lacking in flavour, while the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi was the freshest with a deliciously smooth texture.

Ebi Sunomono - A-

The highlight of the Ebi Sunomono was the shrimp, which was very fresh with an excellent texture. The vinegar base was on the milder side but amply sweet. The slice of lemon provided a citrusy, refreshing feel to the sunomono.

Monster Bite - A-

Having tried Mega Sushi's Godzilla Bite, I decided to order the mirroring dish here to make a comparison as well as acquire a small flame to transform my tuna sashimi into tuna tataki. Imagine my disappointment when the Monster Bite came without this small flame! Instead, the salad comprised the center of the dish and was well dressed with the standard Japanese salad dressing.

The "sushi" part of the Monster Bite consisted of deep-fried seaweed and rice, tuna, salmon, torched spicy chopped scallop, alfalfa, and spicy mayonnaise. The deep-fried base had just the right amount of crunchiness, and the spicy mayonnaise contributed a nice zing. The seafood had a soft, creamy texture, and the tuna had a tasty tataki flavour. Each piece of the Monster Bite was graced with a light, fluffy layer made up of very fine pieces of daikon. This Monster Bite was well executed, but the one I had at Mega Sushi was a bit more carefully prepared and showed greater attention to detail.

Chocolate Pear - A-

After countless years of seeing the Chocolate Pear from Mario's Gelati on the table menu stands of numerous restaurants, I finally decided to give it a try even though I was already full (classic me). At first, I could not understand why they provided me with a knife until I had a few close calls in which I almost launched the whole pear onto someone else's table while trying to break it down with my spoon. The pear is surely much easier to eat after it has been cut up. I enjoyed the hazelnut chocolate gelato, which was served at the appropriate temperature and had a nutty, quasi-coconut flavour. 

The service felt a bit rushed while the restaurant was very busy, but as I stayed past 2:30 p.m., the decreasing number of diners made for some pleasant, friendly service towards the end of my meal. In the end, I didn't find any particular dish especially outstanding, but there were more hits than misses. Although I felt that the food at Mega Sushi was slightly better executed, the prices are slightly lower here, so it is a classic case of "you get what you pay for."

Ora Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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