Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Episode #184: Sushi Bar Maumi

Vancouver (West End), $$$$ (Luxury)

On the day of my very first food blogger joint dinner, the skies decided to present me with some of the highest temperatures I've ever experienced all year. While making my way to Sushi Bar Maumi to meet Food Wench from Drunken Noms and Picky Diner, I had to spend some time standing in front of the display coolers at IGA and wander around in a few air-conditioned hotels in order to prevent myself from turning into a sweat fountain. Thankfully, I budgeted plenty of time to ensure that I would still make it on time.

Sushi Bar Maumi is operated by the sushi chef Maumi Ozaki and is one of the few places in Vancouver where you can get an authentic nigiri sushi omakase experience. It is strictly a sushi bar, so the menu consists solely of sashimi, nigiri sushi, and a few appetizers (there are no sushi rolls or alcoholic drinks). Most of Sushi Bar Maumi's diners come to have their nigiri sushi omakase, which comes in three forms: 10 pieces for $40, 15 pieces for $60, and 18 pieces for $90.

There are only ten seats (all at the bar), and as the omakase commences, each diner receives one large dish in front of them to hold the nigiri. Then, like clockwork, the chef works his way around the bar and presents each diner with one piece of nigiri at a time. The pace was quite relaxed, and between each piece, I had the time to take photos, eat the nigiri, write down some notes, and then discuss various aspects of my life with my fellow food bloggers. After the omakase, you have the option to order additional pieces of nigiri from the à la carte menu, which is updated daily depending on which fresh fish they managed to import from Japan. You are allowed to stay for a total of 90 minutes.

Now, let us rewind back to the beginning...

Anago Tempura - C+

Surprisingly, our first dish, the Anago Tempura (sea eel tempura), was a hot mess (pun intended). The batter was quite oily, and the frying oil was quite obviously overused. The distinct flavour of anago was lost, and this tasted much like any other battered fish. After biting into the anago tempura, my brain decided to spontaneously turn off and Food Wench, our vegetable expert, had to save me by identifying that the vegetable tempura consisted of one piece each of green bean, eggplant, and yam. There was also a crunchy fried fish bone added to the mix.

Kisu Tempura - C

Accompanied with the same pieces of vegetable tempura as the Anago Tempura above, the Kisu Tempura (Japanese whiting) also came with heavy and hard batter. Neither Food Wench nor I was impressed. The vegetable tempura was also sliced overly thin. I wondered if they made the tempura crappily in order to create a contrast with the excellent nigiri that was about to come next...

Mejina Nigiri - A

With the very first piece of our $40 nigiri omakase, we were taken into a whole new world with the Mejina Nigiri (largescale blackfish). (I Googled an image of the fish out of curiosity and cannot get over how plump and cute it looks.) The sushi rice was excellent with just the right amount of vinegar. It was also packed loosely enough to complement the texture of the fish. The blackfish itself had a nice, buttery flavour and an evenly distributed savouriness due to the fact that the sushi chef used a brush to apply a fine layer of soy sauce to the top of the nigiri. Picky Diner also remarked that there was a fair bit of wasabi placed under the fish.

Amaebi Nigiri - A

Among Food Wench's favourites was the Amaebi Nigiri (spotted prawn). The amaebi tasted fresh and featured a creamy flavour and a soft texture. They also provided us with the amaebi heads!

Surume Ika Nigiri - A

Along with the Mejina Nigiri, the Surume Ika Nigiri (Japanese flying squid) was a novelty for me. While I had no trouble recording the Japanese name for the nigiri, I kept thinking that the English name was Japanese line squid. That surely sounds like a very interesting type of squid. Once again, Food Wench came to my rescue and confirmed that the chef said Japanese flying squid. The squid had a delectable chewiness and was sliced to just the right thickness.

Hotategai Nigiri - A-

Moving onto the realm of seafood that I am familiar with, the Hotategai Nigiri, which the chef described as fresh scallop from Hokkaido, had an amazing, delicate, sweet flavour and a soft, pillowy texture. The only issue I had with this piece was that the wasabi was a little too heavy. 

Mebachi Maguro Nigiri - A-

Next, the Mebachi Maguro Nigiri (bigeye tuna) was one of the meatier pieces we received and came with a pleasant, smooth texture. With this piece, the brushing of soy sauce really accentuated the flavours of the tuna and brought it to life. Once again, the only issue I had was the slight overage of wasabi. 

Shima-Aji Nigiri - A+

With the Shima-Aji Nigiri (striped jack), things went from very good to outstanding. Here, Sushi Maumi managed to beat the other restaurants that initially made shima-aji my favourite type of nigiri. With an exquisite, smooth texture and a well-distributed hint of soy sauce, this piece of Shima-Aji Nigiri came as close to perfection as I could imagine Shima-Aji Nigiri to be. 

Aji Nigiri - A+

The Aji Nigiri (Spanish mackerel) was also one of the highlights of the omakase. It was very fresh and featured an excellent smooth texture. The garnish of green onion and ginger on top was a perfect complement to the aji and provided a nice zing. 

Kanpachi Nigiri - A+

Another piece of nigiri featuring an extremely smooth texture and a delectable brush of soy sauce was the Kanpachi (greater amberjack). The kanpachi and the rice just melted in my mouth perfectly. Could I even ask for more?

Saba Nigiri - A

The Saba Nigiri (mackerel) featured a slightly leaner texture than the Aji Nigiri above and came without the garnishes on top. This piece had a richer flavour and a slight chew to it. 

Anago Nigiri - B

Finally, our omakase ended off with a few wrong notes on the Anago Nigiri (saltwater eel). It was a little softer than expected and tasted like it was baked without any marinade or sauce. The anago almost bordered on being bland, but I still have to give Sushi Bar Maumi due credit for the consistently excellent sushi rice.

Ezo Awabi Nigiri - B-

After the conclusion of our omakase, Picky Diner and I proceeded to try out the Ezo Awabi Nigiri (Ezo abalone). I've had abalone many times in Chinese restaurants before, but this was my first time having it in nigiri form. Neither of us liked this piece in particular. It was much chewier and harder than I expected, and I felt like I was chewing little blocks. It didn't have much of the abalone flavour that I am used to.

Hon Maguro O-toro - A

I felt compelled to try something near the top of Sushi Bar Maumi's vast nigiri spectrum, so I went for one piece of Hon Maguro O-toro (fatty bluefin tuna). Due to sustainability issues (as bluefin tuna is an endangered species), I only order a piece of bluefin tuna once or twice a year (this being my first time this year). Picky Diner and Food Wench, being slightly more ethical than me, decided not to order this at all. The o-toro was served a noticeably cooler temperature than the other pieces, and was quite savoury and juicy. However, it wasn't quite as melty as the one I had at Octopus' Garden

During the whole omakase experience, the sushi chef didn't converse with the diners very much, but the waitress came around regularly to make sure that everyone's tea and water were refilled promptly. Aside from the tempura, I had a mostly excellent experience at Sushi Bar Maumi. The precision, care, and attention to detail are all clearly evident in the nigiri sushi. At one point, I started to feel a bit spellbound due to the consistently rich and luscious flavours of the nigiri. I could imagine all the delicious fish of the ocean swimming in my head. If it weren't for my eyes catching Picky Diner and Food Wench diligently pick up their cameras to take photos of each item, I would have forgotten to take photos of some of the nigiri myself.

 Click here to read Picky Diner's post!

Sushi Bar Maumi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Episode #183: Kyabia Japanese Restaurant

Richmond, $$$$ (Luxury)

I just realized that my 2015-2016 Vancoupon book (a coupon book for Japanese-related things in Vancouver) was about to expire, so I made a plan to visit Guu Richmond for dinner and take advantage of their $5 off offer. Unfortunately, remembering to actually bring the coupon book with me was a task too difficult for my brain to handle. I then went online and searched for nearby alternatives in hopes of finding a cheaper place. A picture of Aburi sushi from Kyabia Japanese Restaurant caught my attention, and I made my way there as quickly as a comet.

As luck would have it, I inadvertently walked into a restaurant of the highest price range. Even the Dynamite Roll was $7.25! For a few minutes, I just sat there and stared at the classy decor while crying on the inside about how costly this adventure was going to be. Yikes! Fortunately, there were many interesting items on the menu that looked very worth trying. I found it ironic that there were a lot of children dining at the restaurant despite the high prices. There was one table where the oldest diner looked like she was about 15. Kids in Richmond are sure wealthy these days...

Salmon Aburi Sushi - A-
Toro Aburi Sushi - A-
Saba Aburi Sushi - B
Hirame Aburi Sushi - A-
Engawa Aburi Sushi - A
Kobe Beef Aburi Sushi - B+

The Aburi Sushi Set ($26.95) was the first to arrive. I have no complaints about the sushi rice formation, but the rice itself could benefit from more flavour. The salmon was garnished with a creamy miso dressing and was soft and creamy. The toro had a lovely smoky flavour, although it was overdone at one end. The saba was slightly tough, but the hirame (flounder) was a nice recovery, being adequately juicy. The engawa (flounder fin) was the best of the set, though you have to be very careful while eating it due to its highly delicate texture. Finally, the Kobe beef was a bit lacking in flavour and was not particularly soft. Overall, the set was well-prepared and the textures for the most part were excellent. However, at $26.95, I found it overly pricey, as you can get more pieces of Aburi sushi at Miku for a lower price.

Yakitori - A-

The next dish to arrive was the Yakitori, which came with meaty and tender chicken. There was just the right amount of sauce and moisture in the chicken. Best of all, these are quite affordable compared to many of the other things on the menu.

Chawanmushi - A-

I ordered the Chawanmushi mainly because of how good it looked on the menu (see here), so I was slightly taken aback by the plainness of the Chawanmushi's real form. It was served hot, and the egg custard absorbed the flavour of the mushrooms on top. In addition to the mushrooms, I managed to dig out a piece of narutomaki, a small imitation crab stick, and some shrimp. Overall, I didn't find any real flaws with this Chawanmushi, yet it lacks the wow factor of the one I had at Yuji's from Japan.

Unagi Puff - B+

When I saw the Unagi Puff ($12.95) on the specials menu, I had no idea what it was, so I ordered it out of curiosity. For all I knew, I could have received a Beard Papa's cream puff with unagi stuffed inside it instead of cream filling, or perhaps even unagi with extra air injected into it to make it puffier... who knows? Much to my surprise, the Unagi Puff came as three pastries with unagi in it. The unagi was certainly well-prepared, but its flavour was lost to the creamy, quiche-like filling of the pastry. I didn't know whether to interpret this as a very tasty pastry or a botched unagi dish. 

Black Sesame Crème Brûlée - A-

For dessert, I had the Black Sesame Crème Brûlée, which came with soft, creamy custard and a fine layer of hard caramel. I enjoyed the properly executed crème brûlée, although it would be even better if it came with a sweeter choice of fruits that matched the sweet black sesame flavour of the custard.

The service at Kyabia was friendly and overall decent, though it could improve in terms of attentiveness. It is evident that the chefs spent a lot of time trying to perfect the execution of the menu items. The food was consistently well-executed with just a few minor flaws. Unfortunately, my bill surpassed $60 (before tips), which is a little more than what I would like to pay for a sushi adventure. And yes, I wasn't even full. If the food were about two-thirds the price, I would easily recommend Kyabia as a go-to place for Japanese food in Richmond.

Kyabia Japanese Restaurant  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Episode #182: Kerrisdale Nakamura

Vancouver (Southwest), $$$$ (Luxury)

At last, my new camera has made its way to my gracious presence. Just to see how it would fare at taking photos of food, I had a plan to visit Tokyo Thyme and order some photogenic dishes. I was highly ecstatic at the thought of capturing stunning food photos to wow my dear readers (that includes you!) and walked across the quaint streets of Kerrisdale like a kid who had just eaten a bathtub of gummy worms. Unfortunately, things weren't meant to be, as Tokyo Thyme decided to spice up my hunger by taking a surprise four-day break. Since I was too famished to bus to a new location, I walked around to scout for a legitimate-looking sushi restaurant, and the first one I came across was Kerrisdale Nakamura.

Kerrisdale Nakamura is an authentic Japanese restaurant that specializes in traditional Japanese cuisine. It features a small but elegant dining space with wooden tables and leather chairs. I felt like a classy person just by being inside the restaurant. Plopping my camera on the table, I proceeded to engage in the daunting process of planning out the precise combination of dishes I wanted for dinner. However, after staring at the menu for nearly 15 minutes, I gave up and just went with the Tasting Course Dinner. I had faith that they would know what they're good at better than I would.

Goma-ae - A-

The Goma-ae was a solid start to the dinner. It featured tender baby spinach, and the sesame sauce was nicely spread out throughout the spinach for a consistent sweet flavour.

Tai Sashimi - A
Tako Sashimi - A
Tuna Sashimi - A+
Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - C+

This assorted plate of some of the most miniature slices of sashimi I have ever seen was successful for the most part. The Tai Sashimi had a very smooth texture and a well-rounded, delicate, sweet flavour. The Tako Sashimi had just the right amount of chewiness and tasted fresh. The Tuna Sashimi was extremely fresh and took my soul for a brief trip to fish heaven. My trip was abruptly interrupted by the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi, which was a surprising blunder as it tasted rather fishy.

Assorted Tempura - B+

The next course, the Assorted Tempura, came with two prawns and one piece each of sweet potato, eggplant, kabocha, and green bean. The tempura was perfectly matched with a dipping sauce that contained finely grated daikon and ginger. The prawns were the best of the bunch as they were plump and juicy, while the weaker pieces were the eggplant and the kabocha. The batter was applied in the right amount, but it would benefit from being a bit flakier and less hard.

Baked Shrimp and Scallop with Mayonnaise - A-

Presented adorably in a scallop shell, the Baked Shrimp and Scallop with Mayonnaise came with remarkably soft scallops and juicy baby shrimp. It featured a prominent egg flavour and felt lighter than a motoyaki.

Real Crab Sunomono - B+

Not too long after experiencing the case of the minuscule sashimi, I came face to face with the case of the smallest sunomono I have ever seen. Inside the sunomono were lots of finely sliced cucumber, some kelp, and some real crab. The crab meat was soft and silky, while the vinegar was quite acidic and too sour for my liking. It did not exactly complement any of the ingredients.

Chicken Teriyaki - B+

Next, the Chicken Teriyaki was well-dressed with a nice homemade feel. They were not the most succulent pieces of chicken, but they were still tender. I would have enjoyed the chicken more if it had more of a grilled flavour.

Tuna Nigiri - B+
Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - C+
Hokkigai Nigiri - B
Ebi Nigiri - C+
Tamago Nigiri - B+

Finally, we have arrived at the last course of the Tasting Course Dinner. Imagine my surprise when I bite into the nigiri and find out that the sushi rice is... bland?? They got the texture right and everything, but seriously? Did they accidentally run out of sushi vinegar? Oh, the horror... 

Rice aside, the tuna was fresh and melty, and the hokkigai had an appealingly chewy texture. The sockeye salmon lacked a definite fresh taste, while the sweet ebi was accentuated by some intriguingly dry and mushy sushi rice. My favourite of the bunch was the Tamago Nigiri, which came with sweet, fluffy, cake-like tamago and was quite enjoyable.

Ankimo - B-

After all seven courses of the tasting meal, I was still not full, so I went for the Ankimo (monkfish liver), a classic Japanese delicacy. The ankimo itself was decent and exhibited a nice smooth texture. Unfortunately, the cutting skills were not exactly on point, as more than half of the pieces fell apart when I tried to pick them up. It was as if the chef's knife broke and he suddenly had to use scissors to finish the task. I also wasn't particularly fond of the strong ponzu dressing, which completely overwhelmed the ankimo.

The Japanese waitress was professional and provided friendly service to every table. My dinner started off on a high note but ended with multiple mishaps towards the end. Given the price point, the quality of the food fell short of my expectations. However, diners who are not very detail-oriented may still have a very enjoyable experience here, as the restaurant does a remarkably good job of giving the illusion that it is a very high-end place. Hardly anything says high-end better than tiny portion sizes and high prices, right?

Kerrisdale Nakamura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Episode #181: Carp Sushi + Bento

Vancouver (Northeast), $$ (Moderately Priced)

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a Canon G7x Mark II camera at London Drugs (because they had a promotion on it), and it finally arrived at London Drugs' warehouse! This will be the last adventure that I'll have to use my phone camera (which has been slowly becoming unreliable). The G7x is a compact point-and-shoot that is capable of producing a bokeh effect (the blurred background effect) like a DSLR. I think I lost sleep thinking about all the magnificent pictures I'll be able to take of sushi. I may have also gone a little hyper and daydreamed more than usual.

Carp Sushi is a small authentic takeout place located next to Kingsgate Mall. You pay at the front counter before you receive your food, and there are about three tables for customers who would like to dine in. The menu is quite limited, with only five types of nigiri (poor me), but there are a couple of unique items in the mix.

My sushi was presented on a very interesting yellow dish...

Tuna Tataki Roll - B

First up, the Tuna Tataki Roll consisted of tuna tataki, cucumber, avocado, and daikon. The seasoning on top gave the roll a nice savoury flavour, but I felt like there was a little too much of it. On the plus side, the creamy avocado inside was delicious, and the small dab of what tasted like cranberry sauce gave the roll a unique zing.

Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - B+
Tuna Nigiri - A
Sea Eel (Anago) Nigiri - A-

Out of the five available choices, they surprisingly had Anago Nigiri, which is among my favourite types of nigiri. Also to my delight was the fact that the sushi rice here was good. The sockeye salmon could have a smoother texture, but the tuna melted in my mouth wonderfully and was fatty enough to be considered toro. The sea eel featured a rich, grilled flavour, although I'm not sure why the chef decided to put wasabi in this piece of nigiri.

Candied Salmon - B+

I was a little surprised when the chef served me the Candied Salmon by grabbing it straight from the display cooler. As you can see, I couldn't exactly give them a good score for presentation. However, it was decent flavour-wise. The marinade gave the grilled salmon a sweet flavour. The Candied Salmon reminded me of beef jerky, but with salmon instead of beef. Salmon jerky, anyone?

Mini Tuna Poke Bowl - A

If there is anything that could define the phrase "packs a punch," this would be it. This was literally "da bomb." The really soft, melty tuna was combined with marinade to produce a rich, savoury flavour with a strong essence of sesame oil. The avocado's smooth texture made it delicious and refreshing. Also included in the bowl were some spicy wasabi-flavoured crunchy bits, which added a defiant kick to the bowl. Eating this bowl made me think of a very attractive girl with the smoothest skin and a magnificent, flowing outfit who is playing hard to get, which makes you want her more. Uhh, yeah... what have I become...

The sushi chef also happened to be the cashier as well as the person who brought me my food, and he was very friendly. I enjoyed the quality ingredients in the food, especially the excellent, melty tuna. I believe I will never forget this restaurant due to the impact of that last dish. And just to make it clear, I don't support playing hard to get in real life. If I tried to do that, many unfortunate things will happen. It only works for food!

Carp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Episode #180: Ninja Sushi

Langley, $$$ (Higher Priced)

The other day, my family and I were in Port Coquitlam at a dim sum restaurant doing something absolutely dreadful: eating something other than sushi. While trying to figure out our course of action for the remainder of the day, I casually suggested going to Krause Berry Farms to pick some of my favourite berries: raspberries. My ulterior motive was to get my dad to fulfill his promise of taking me out for sushi in Langley, and I had no intention of actually doing any of the berry picking. I am arachnophobic and it takes me an hour to pick ten berries. Nonetheless, my ruse worked, and after the farm was closed, we were off to have dinner at Ninja Sushi.

Ninja Sushi is one of the larger and newer sushi restaurants in Langley. Along with a spacious, elegant interior dining area, they also played classical music (at least during my visit) to create a classier atmosphere. Off to the side of the restaurant were some informal tatami rooms, while we sat at a large tiled table with wooden booth seating. I liked how they provided us with cushions to make our bottoms feel better while we dined.

Miso Soup - A-

The Chicken Teriyaki that we ordered came with a Miso Soup, and it was well prepared. There was sufficient miso flavour, and it was not too salty. I then passed the soup over to my dad after trying a bit of it. Unfortunately, the tiled tabletop caused my dad to launch the hot soup straight at my mom. Things got a little loud and un-pretty for a few seconds...

Chicken Teriyaki - A

The Chicken Teriyaki itself was excellent. It came with high-quality chicken meat and savoury bean sprouts, and the teriyaki sauce was not overwhelming. The chicken also had a delicious smoky flavour. After having this, my mom and dad got along perfectly fine again.

Spicy Tuna Oshi Sushi - A

The Spicy Tuna Oshi Sushi was also excellent, and the sushi rice formation was above average. The bubbly masago, the creamy avocado, and the soft, melty tuna all blended together to create a heavenly burst of flavour. The slices of jalapeño were quite large, and things got quite spicy with the chili sauce involved.

Prawn Tempura - A

Continuing the onslaught of masterfully prepared dishes, the Prawn Tempura came with plump and fresh savoury shrimp. The batter was crispy and not hard at all. This was the best item of our dinner.

Tuna Sashimi - A
Salmon Sashimi - A-

The Appetizer Sashimi was very appetizing and fresh. The Tuna Sashimi was pleasantly soft and melty, while the Salmon Sashimi came in thick, generous cuts and featured a delicious, smooth texture. 

Sake Elvis - C

At last, I got something I can roast. The Sake Elvis consisted of salmon, mashed potato, cucumber, and sliced radish on large wheat crackers. While most of the ingredients were fine individually, they crashed and burned when put together. The dryness of the cracker didn't integrate well with anything else. Furthermore, the mashed potato had this odd, fruity sweetness that made it taste like a banana that had been squashed by a rolling pin. All in all, this appetizer tasted very strange, and none of us liked it in particular.

Aburi Toro Nigiri - A-
Dragon Roll - B+

Despite that one blunder, our dinner ended off solidly. The Aburi Toro Nigiri featured juicy, fresh toro and had a slight smoky flavour to it. If anything, the rice could benefit from a little more moisture. Next, the Dragon Roll, which came with unagi, avocado, crab meat, cucumber, and prawn tempura, was also largely successful. It featured the same savoury prawn tempura mentioned earlier and was neatly constructed. The unagi was slightly too dry, but the ingredients of the roll were integrated together quite nicely. 

During our dinner, the service was friendly, although we thought that the attentiveness could be improved. The waitress spent a little too much time in the back away from the dining area. All things considered, Ninja Sushi clearly stands out against most other sushi restaurants in Langley due to its superior quality of food. The only other Japanese restaurant in Langley of a similar caliber is Tokyo Hon Sushi. After our dinner, my family and I went to burn off some of those calories by shopping for food at various supermarkets in the vicinity.

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

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Episode #179: Tatsu Japanese Bistro

Vancouver (Northeast), $$$ (Higher Priced)

After a gruelling midterm in which my pen disintegrated all over my desk, it was time to rectify the situation with some nice Japanese fusion sushi. Remembering a positive previous visit, I decided to go to Tatsu Japanese Bistro once more to experience some of their mouthwatering baked mozzarella dishes. Even though it was raining at the time, I walked all the way to the restaurant from Commercial-Broadway Station to lift my mind from the exam. A little rain doesn't stop me when there's sushi ahead.

Tatsu Japanese Bistro features a modern, trendy atmosphere with a bit of an artsy touch to it. They put effort into making everything look nice; the menus, the walls, and the food are all appealingly designed. The restaurant is Korean-operated and serves a lot of fusion dishes, but that being said, if you are looking for Aburi Salmon Oshi, it is nowhere to be found. I died a little at this realization. However, while flipping through the menu, I saw a whole assortment of enticing photographs of food that reminded me of all the good things this restaurant had to offer.

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

Things started out nicely with the beautifully plated Appetizer Sashimi. The Tai Sashimi was soft and smooth, and the ikura added a bit of a fruity flavour to the tai. Next, the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi was fresh with a sufficiently sweet flavour. The Tuna Sashimi had the slightest hint of fishiness in one of the pieces, but apart from that, it had a delightful melty texture and was neatly cut. 

Eggplant Seafood Yaki - A+

The Eggplant Seafood Yaki, consisting of deep-fried eggplant, torched assorted BBQ seafood, and mozzarella, was one of the most epic appetizers I have come across in a long time. I could feel my soul being enlightened. The abundance of baked, juicy salmon and the plump salad shrimp created a very heartwarming effect. The eggplant was sweet and juicy, and the seared mozzarella cheese provided this dish with an irresistible Aburi-like flavour. Despite the multitude of ingredients, I did not find the seafood yaki heavy. This is one of those things that remind me that money is worth saving and life is worth living.

The final part of my lunch was the Tatsu Omakase Sushi, which typically comes with the Crunch Roll. However, the waitress was kind enough to let me substitute the Sunset Roll at no extra charge. For omakase sushi, I would have liked to see something other than the most mundane types of nigiri, but at least I was getting about $37 worth of sushi for only $26.95. I even got a fried amaebi head!

Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - B
Tuna Nigiri - B+
Hamachi Nigiri - A-

The Sockeye Salmon Nigiri was just as fresh as the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi above, and the Tuna Nigiri was soft and melty. The Hamachi Nigiri (yellowtail) was especially appetizing and came with fatty, juicy, and fresh hamachi. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of the sushi rice because it was packed too tightly in most of the pieces and interfered with my enjoyment of the softer textures of the fish. (Yes, sushi rice in nigiri is not meant to be tightly packed so that you can easily grip it with your chopsticks. In fact, nigiri is not even supposed to be eaten with chopsticks, but we all do it because everyone else does it.)

Ebi Nigiri - B-
Toro Nigiri - B+
Tai Nigiri - B
Amaebi Nigiri - B

Next up, the Ebi Nigiri (shrimp) came with way too much wasabi, which I'm pretty sure made me lose a few of my nose cells. The ebi was also on the dry side. The Toro Nigiri (tuna belly), however, came with a very good piece of fresh, melty toro. The Tai Nigiri (red snapper) was sweet and soft, while I found the Amaebi Nigiri (sweet shrimp) a touch too sticky and gluey. 

Hokkigai Nigiri - C+
Unagi Nigiri - B+
Tamago Nigiri - B

The Hokkigai Nigiri also contained way too much wasabi and was overly chewy. It sure sucked to be my nose. The Unagi Nigiri was soft and melty and dressed with rich unagi sauce. Finally, the Tamago Nigiri was sweet and fluffy, though it would fare better with a slightly more grilled flavour.

Sunset Roll - A

After munching on the fried amaebi head, I had the Sunset Roll, which consisted of a California roll topped with torched mozzarella, assorted chopped BBQ seafood, and three seemingly misplaced blueberries. It was colourful and elegantly presented with a good interplay of flavours. Flavour-wise, it shared many similarities with the Eggplant Seafood Yaki, but it was nonetheless another highlight of the meal. 

The service was friendly and attentive and remained so even at times the restaurant became busy. I must say, this was one colossal lunch, and there were times I had to take a break, go on Instagram, and look at pictures of food to make me a little more hungry again. Although nigiri isn't one of Tatsu's strengths, things like the Eggplant Seafood Yaki and the Sunset Roll tempt me to return and try more of their creative offerings. 

Tatsu Japanese Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato