Monday, February 15, 2016

Episode #149: Black Rice Izakaya

Vancouver (Yaletown), $$$ (Higher Priced) 

The rain has come back once again, but nothing is a problem when there's sushi involved. I first found out about Black Rice Izakaya last summer in my search for Aburi sushi in Vancouver. However, being the forgetful person I have become (darn you, old age memory loss), I managed to forget about trying this place until now. Expecting high prices, fancy Aburi, and other creative items, I prepared myself to enjoy an expensive lunch with perhaps more dishes than I should order.

Black Rice Izakaya is Korean-operated and has a pleasing, semi-fancy appearance inside. I looked inside the menu and was ecstatic to find that there was a teishoku lunch combo that contained Aburi sushi and many other small dishes! I could now spend just $15.95 on what I had planned to spend $40 on, which meant that I could save the money to buy my sister heaps of potato chips. The only issue was that the lunch menu only contained four sushi rolls. Since the fanciest roll contained cream cheese (of which I am not a fan), I went for the second fanciest roll, which was the Volcano Dynamite Roll.

Volcano Dynamite Roll - A-

The Volcano Dynamite Roll consisted of crab meat, prawn tempura, cucumber, avocado, spicy tuna, and brown rice. I enjoyed the savoury prawn tempura and could feel the snap of the juicy prawn. The crab meat inside was soft and mildly creamy, while the avocado added some sweetness to the roll. The spicy tuna wasn't very spicy, but it had a nice zing, and the sprinkles on top contributed some crunch to the roll.

Next, the Teishoku A arrived on a marvelous wooden table tray. Note that the teishoku sets are available during lunch hours on weekdays only. 

Aburi Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - B
Aburi Salmon Nigiri - B+
Aburi Ebi Nigiri - A-
Aburi Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - B+
Aburi Salmon Sashimi - A
Aburi Tuna Sashimi - A-

The Chef's Selection Aburi Sushi and Sashimi in the teishoku set came with three pieces of Aburi nigiri and three pieces of Aburi sashimi. The nigiri exhibited solid rice formation. The sockeye salmon was slightly smoky, but it didn't have much of a salmon flavour. The Atlantic salmon was better in this regard and had a nice smooth texture. The mayonnaise on top of the Aburi Ebi Nigiri enhanced the flavour of the prawn. 

I thought the pairing of guacamole with sashimi was a clever idea. After all, we often mix the fish with avocado and salt (from soy sauce) when we eat sushi rolls. The sockeye salmon once again lacked a distinctive salmon flavour, but the Aburi Salmon Sashimi was buttery, soft, and smooth. It was enhanced further by the creamy guacamole. The Aburi Tuna Sashimi was also fresh, though it tasted more like tataki, with a nice hardening around the edges.

Aburi Spicy Salmon Hako - A-
 Sockeye Salmon Roll - B
Avocado Roll - A-

The Aburi Spicy Salmon Hako was indeed quite spicy due to the use of spicy mayonnaise rather than regular mayonnaise. The rice was packed a bit tightly, but the salmon on top was savoury. After finishing the salmon hako, I had to drink all of my tea, half of my miso soup, and some gomaae sauce in order to clear the spice from my taste buds. Moving on, the Sockeye Salmon Roll contained copious amounts of sockeye salmon, which was predictably weak in flavour. The Avocado Roll, on the other hand, featured fresh, creamy avocado, which was enhanced by the savoury house-made sushi shoyu (soy sauce). 

Miso Soup - A-

Here is the piping hot Miso Soup that I used to wash the spice out of my mouth. It was more effective than the tea, and at the end, I could tell that it had a rich miso flavour and was not too salty. It came with only some green onion, but it had a good consistency.

Green Salad - A-
Oshinko - B-

The Green Salad came with mixed greens, which were dressed with a combination of tangy Japanese salad dressing and gomaae sesame sauce. I liked how the sauce was evenly spread throughout the salad, and the gomaae sauce provided a unique sweet flavour to the salad. The gomaae sauce also helped me clear some of the spiciness from earlier. The oshinko (pickled goods) consisted of one piece each of takuan (daikon), kyurizuke (cucumber), and shibazuke (description too long to put here). Each piece had a nice crunch, but the oshinko was a bit dry and tasted average.

Agedashi Tofu - A-
Beef Karaage - B-

The Agedashi Tofu had a nice crispy exterior and some smooth, soft tofu inside. I liked how it was enhanced by small bits of dried porked, those these were a bit chewy. My least favourite item was the Beef Karaage, which tasted like lightly fried meatballs. It was hard around the edges and weak in flavour. 

The service here was just average. They never noticed that my tea ran out, but they seemed very intent on taking my menu away while I was trying to discreetly copy the item descriptions down into my notebook. I tried to tuck the menu away on the far side of my table, but it slid through the crack between the table and the staircase and ended up crashing to the floor. The troubles I go through as a food blogger... Despite the average service, the food was above average and relatively affordable with the help of the teishoku sets. My bill only came to about $25, making this one of my cheaper sushi adventures!

Black Rice Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Selina said...

"Buy my sister heaps of potato chips."


And woww, I really like the presentation of the teinshoku set!! Seems like it's worth the $15! :D

Raymond Zeng said...

LOL... except for you, it might have to be mountains of potato chips. ;D

Yes, I would say the teishoku set is worth the $15!

Raymond Zeng said...

I agree and would say that this was one of my better experiences in the area.

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