Saturday, May 14, 2016

Episode #169: Nao Sushi

Coquitlam, $$ (Moderately Priced)

With significant wait times during peak lunch and peak dinner hours, Nao Sushi started out as one popular restaurant in South Burnaby with too many customers. Now, with a new location in Coquitlam, Nao Sushi has become two popular restaurants with too many customers. The first time I tried to dine at Nao Sushi with my family, the line-up was so long that I led my family to Jimoco Cafe & Pasta instead, which is a miracle because (a) Jimoco Cafe is rather famous for its lengthy wait times and (b) I actually made a conscious decision to give up sushi for something else. I must have been a little high that day. Needless to say, the four of us came back to try Nao Sushi the next weekend.

Luckily, we got a seat one minute before a line-up started to form. Seriously, I had never known that there were this many sushi lovers in this part of town. There were about five chefs and three waitresses working non-stop to meet the diners' demands, and even then, the food came out very slowly. For 20 minutes, we had the pleasure of watching everyone around us get their food while our hunger raged on. This felt exactly the same as seeing all my friends graduate and land amazing careers while being stuck at SFU myself trying to decipher the mystic "foreign language" in my textbooks and growing a dozen new zits in the process.

Aburi Toro Nigiri - B

First to arrive was the Aburi Toro Nigiri for my sister and me. Both of us were not especially pleased with the Aburi toro because it lacked a seared flavour and was drier than usual. However, the sushi rice was well-constructed and above average. The portion size was quite generous too.

Atlantic Roll - A

My mom ordered the Atlantic Roll, and it was a great success. My mom has this uncanny luck when it comes to ordering, and she manages to order the good stuff even when she has no clue about what the menu actually says. The Atlantic Roll consisted of Atlantic salmon, masago, and avocado, and it was covered in a thin layer of Japanese salad dressing for some creaminess. The creamy flavours of the salmon and the avocado, along with the bubbly masago, provided an excellent harmony of flavours. 

Amaebi Sashimi - A
Tuna Sashimi - C+
Salmon Sashimi - A-
Tsubagai Sashimi - A-
Madai Sashimi - A-
Hokkigai Sashimi - A-
Tako Sashimi - A

Next, we had the Assorted Sashimi, which came with one piece of amaebi, three pieces of tuna, three pieces of salmon, one piece of tsubagai (whelk), two pieces of madai (sea bream), three pieces of hokkigai, and two pieces of tako. The sashimi was generally very fresh, with the amaebi and the very juicy tako being the highlights. The only real fault was the excessively cold temperature of the Tuna Sashimi, which made it come dangerously close to turning into a tuna popsicle.

Aburi Spicy Tuna Roll - B+

The Aburi Spicy Tuna Roll consisted of a California roll, seared tuna, and spicy tuna. It was moderately spicy with a good amount of chili sauce on top. The crab meat was rather soft, but the tuna can be a little softer. I couldn't really taste any Aburi flavour under all the spiciness and didn't see the point of searing the tuna, but I suppose putting "Aburi" in the name would get more people to try the roll.

Chicken Kamameshi - B+

The Chicken Kamameshi was a steamed rice hot pot with chicken and vegetables. The rice had lots of moisture and absorbed the flavour of the bamboo shoots well. The steamed chicken was very tender. However, this tasted a little too much like comfort food to me. Even my dad, who ordered this dish, said it tasted too healthy for him. I don't think I've ever heard my dad say that before. 

Kawari Battera - A-

Our final item was the Kawari Battera, which featured anago (sea eel) on one side and ebi on the other. The anago was cut thinly and didn't have much impact, but they were clever enough to use avocado to help enhance the flavours here. On the other hand, the ebi had an appealing chewiness and contained a surprising burst of richness. The rice was again well-made, just like in the nigiri sushi earlier.

Overall, the service was friendly, and the food was well-prepared, perhaps even more so than at the South Burnaby location. The sushi rice is clearly one of Nao Sushi's strengths. After we finished all the food above, I was still hardly full (as expected). Not wanting to wait a long time again for my food to come out, I went to stuff myself at Starbucks, where I could indulge in bank-breaking beverages and experience the joy of having my name spelled wrong.

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


Xtrain01 said...

Atlantic salmon gets an A grade ... must be grade inflation ;)

Raymond Zeng said...

Haha, I grade sashimi mainly based on freshness and preparation. Also, I don't really have a preference of sockeye salmon over Atlantic salmon due to the amount of subpar sockeye salmon sashimi I've experienced in the past...

Selina said...

"I actually made a conscious decision to give up sushi for something else." Wow, I never thought this day would come...haha!!

"experience the joy of having my name spelled wrong." OH HEY THERE, Raven!! ;)

Raymond Zeng said...

I was too hungry and just desperately needed food!

Speaking of having my name spelled wrong, Sushi Town also spelled my name as Raven on a takeout order before. I'm inclined to believe that they're messing with me. =)

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