Monday, August 29, 2016

Episode #189: Raisu

Vancouver (Northwest), $$$ (Higher Priced)

Having been a food blogger for more than two years now, I like to say that I am immune to the phenomenon of looking at pictures of food and then feeling hungry. While that is true for the most part, it is not always the case. Recently, I have been seeing too many pictures of Raisu's The Ocean's Offerings, featuring twelve pieces of exquisitely square-shaped sushi, on my Instagram feed. How was I supposed to resist making a trip to Raisu to try it out for myself? Joining me on this adventure was Picky Diner, Food Wench, and Albert, a well-known foodie hailing from Shanghai.

Raisu is a second-storey restaurant situated on the west side of Kitsilano. Raisu is the newest addition to the Kingyo group of izakaya-style restaurants, which also includes Kingyo, Suika, and Rajio, and for a restaurant that had been open for just over a month, I did not expect it to be so busy. When I called to make a reservation several days in advance, all they had left for us was a table on the patio. I had ambivalent feelings about taking a spot on the patio because I had never dined on a patio before. However, Food Wench thought it would be a great idea to dine out on the patio since it was a nice summer's day. We did enjoy the sunshine and the summer breeze alright, along with some abominable lighting situations and of course, the lovely company of several obnoxious bees.

While the entrance of Suika was decorated with a watermelon ceiling lamp, the entrance of Raisu featured a noren with an image of a rice cooker on it. I was half expecting a ceiling lamp in the shape of a grain of rice to be at the entrance, but I guess this will have to do. Walking up the stairs, we saw a fancy, elegantly decorated dining space, and the staff was working busily in preparation for the dinner crowd.

The Ocean's Offerings
Starting from the top-left, going row by row:
Hamachi - A-
Saba - B+
Salmon/Ikura - A
Snapper - A-
Sayori - A-
Snow Crab - A-
Tuna Tataki - B
Tamago - A-
Unagi - A-
Amaebi - B+
Hotategai - B+
Botan Ebi - A

Since they only make 10 orders of The Ocean's Offerings every lunch or dinner session, I pre-ordered two of these for my table when making my reservation. Unfortunately, I wanted to sample and rate every piece, and no one really wanted to split each piece with me. However, with much persuasion, begging, and pleading, Food Wench agreed to do so. She was such a good sport that she even offered to do all the cutting, which was a good thing for our safety because I can count on one hand the number of times I've held a knife.

The highlights from this box were the Salmon/Ikura and the Botan Ebi. The Botan Ebi had a slight spicy zing to it and was reminiscent of Miku's Aburi Ebi Oshi, albeit without the creaminess of seared oshi sauce. The Sayori (Japanese half beak) was juicy and went well with the dab of sweet chili. The Tuna and the Hotategai ended up being a bit weak in flavour. Overall, most of the pieces were tasty and well-prepared, and the rice was just the right texture. 

Miso Soup - A

The Miso Soup that accompanied The Ocean's Offerings contained a hearty mix of bean curd, mushroom, and green onion. The balance of ingredients here was very good.

Jumbo Seafood Kaki-Age Udon - A-

The Jumbo Seafood Kaki-Age Udon came in a jumbo-sized bowl and consisted of crispy kale and a deep-fried seafood medley, along with udon noodles. I thought the udon noodles could be a little more al dente, but I did enjoy the savoury flavour and soft texture of the submerged tempura batter bits. The seafood medley was a mix of predominantly scallops and crunchy vegetables.

Sizzling Stone Beef Steak Hitsumabushi - B

The Sizzling Stone Beef Steak Hitsumabushi came with Canadian AAA tenderloin beef, garlic butter fried rice, and a helping of dashi broth on the side, which you can mix with the rice once things start to dry out. I liked the richness of the garlic butter fried rice, which was mixed with kombu (seaweed) for more flavour. However, the beef was rather tasteless, and since no one at my table liked this dish in particular, I got to use it as my filler.

Chicken Karaage - B+

Next, the Chicken Karaage came with juicy, tender chicken along with a sprinkle of herbs for an extra kick. Although the exterior was a little harder than desired, this was a notch better than the Chicken Karaage at Suika.

Ebi Mayo - A

Food Wench claims that she has a white-girl love for Ebi Mayo, so we ordered one to try. Unfortunately, I'm not even remotely close to being a white girl, but I share a similar love for Ebi Mayo and have featured it many times on this blog. This version featured very plump tiger prawns (the menu didn't lie!) and came with mildly spicy chili mayonnaise. A crispy layer of batter on the outside rounded off this excellently prepared dish.

Deluxe Seafood Bowl - B-

After seeing on the menu that the Deluxe Seafood Bowl came with "generous portions" and consisted of many different types of seafood (salmon, ahi tuna, yellowtail, snow crab, tai, amaebi... you name it), Picky Diner was convinced to give it a try despite the $32 price tag. Since that's exactly how I decide to order stuff most of the time, I agreed with him, and we ended up getting it. It turned out to be a disappointment because the sushi rice was overly seasoned with vinegar and many of the pieces of fish were cut close to the skin, which makes the fish taste slightly more dull and fishy. Well, I was the de facto vault for so-so food, so I suppose I scored myself another filler.

Despite the restaurant being very busy, we received friendly and timely service. Some of the food fell short of expectations due to the high price tags, but we had a handful of well-executed dishes as well. Raisu is not exactly a place that I would be clamouring to go back to, but it is a nice place for taking aesthetic Instagram photos (if you're not stuck with the lighting I experienced) and sampling some unique izakaya food.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Episode #188: Best Sushi N Kitchen

Coquitlam, $$ (Moderately Priced)

After an evening of listening to presentations at SFU until 9 p.m., I had two choices: go home or have sushi. Contrary to what you might expect, I was initially inclined to go home because I had a significant amount of work to complete and a sushi adventure planned shortly after. Plus, since Coquitlam is dead as a doornail at night, it was unlikely for me to find a sushi restaurant that was still open. I went for a short stroll while making my transfer at Lougheed Station to release some energy, when I inadvertently passed by Best Sushi N Kitchen. A restaurant that serves the best sushi was still open at this time? To hell with priorities and self-control!

Best Sushi N Kitchen is a Korean-operated Japanese restaurant that sits at a location occupied by many different Japanese eateries in the past. A long while back, it was Fujiya, and then, it was Sushi Elephant, then Sushi &, then Sushi & Ramen, and now, Best Sushi N Kitchen. Every time I visit this place, I would be reminded of the old days when I was a child and my parents would take me to Fujiya to have frozen pre-made sushi straight from the display coolers. Back then, we could not afford to eat at any decent Japanese restaurant, and since I had no clue that better sushi existed, I remembered being ecstatic every time my parents mentioned that we were going to Fujiya. Those were the days when Taisho was my heaven.

(menu - click to enlarge)

At Best Sushi N Kitchen, there are two menus: one with Japanese food and one with Korean food. It almost feels like you are in a casual Korean restaurant, as the Korean menu is quite full-fledged and loud Korean pop music spews out of the speakers. The dining area is large and spacious, and even though it was getting late, I could sense an energetic vibe throughout the restaurant, which was probably the intended effect of the music.

1st visit:

Tuna Gomae - A-

The Tuna Gomae featured easy-to-chew spinach and fresh, soft tuna. There were copious amounts of sesame sauce to give the gomae a thorough sweet flavour. I also liked how they added some purple cabbage on top of the salad for visual appeal.

Aburi Salmon Oshi - A-

The Aburi Salmon Oshi came with six pieces for just $8.95! As I took a bite into each piece, a pleasant warm, creamy, and slightly smoky flavour filled my mouth, and my expectations were surpassed. I also enjoyed the formation of the rice, which was not too tightly packed. The rice felt just a bit dry in the middle, and perhaps a thin layer of salmon in the middle would help (though this would likely push the price of the oshi upward). The presentation could also be worked on, as the sushi looked like it was about to wither and melt in the heat of the hot sun.

Red Dynamite Roll - B

The Red Dynamite Roll consisted of cucumber, avocado, prawn tempura, spicy tuna, and yam bits. There was an interesting attempt here to use cucumber bits to add crunch to the roll. I liked the plump prawns and the melty spicy tuna. However, the sushi rice was noticeably weak in flavour, and the roll was quite heavy on the rice.

Since I frequently find myself making transfers at Lougheed Station, I decided to turn this adventure into a Sushi-a-thon!

2nd visit:

Ebi Mayo - B

On my second visit, I started off with the Ebi Mayo, which came with six juicy prawns. However, despite the sprinkle of herbs, the batter was not especially flavourful. They also paired the Ebi Mayo with dill tartar sauce, which is something I had never seen or experienced before. I didn't find the dill tartar sauce to be a good complement for the Ebi Mayo, as it was a touch too sour and created a dissonance with the sweeter flavour of the prawns.

Hotate Nigiri - B
Saba Nigiri - B
Toro Nigiri - A

Moving onto the nigiri, the flavour of the rice was once again on the weaker side. The hotate (scallop)  was juicy with a jelly-like texture, but it was not very sweet. The saba (mackerel) was neither soft nor tough, and it was slightly more salty than necessary. The toro (tuna belly) was leagues above the other nigiri. The Toro Nigiri was tastefully fresh, juicy, and plump. It came in a generous serving, and having the rich burst of flavour from the toro melt into my mouth is an experience I'd happily repeat.

Salmon Tempura Roll - B+

Knowing that I had a filler coming up, I toned it down when selecting my special roll. With this roll, I could taste the crispiness the tempura and the freshness of the cooked salmon. The sweetness of the crab meat also complemented the salmon well. As a nice touch, they sprinkled some sesame seeds on top to give the roll a nutty side.

Beef Teriyaki with Rice in Stone Bowl - B

Feeling adventurous (as I usually am), I went to try the Beef Teriyaki with Rice in Stone Bowl from the Korean menu. Nothing could have prepared me for how big this turned out to be. I could have just ordered this one dish and called it a meal! The beef is minced very finely and has a soft, flaky texture. Flavour-wise, the sesame seeds took the spotlight. This dish was aptly named because it did taste much more like beef teriyaki than bulgogi beef. 

Since it took me so long to finish the stone bowl (it also took a long time for the stone bowl to cool to a temperature at which I could eat it), I had to face the wrath of the evil, crumbly, dried-up rice near the edges of the stone bowl. I understand that many people order stone bowls just to have this crumbly rice, but personally, it is a pet peeve of mine. I remembered that at other Korean restaurants I've been to, they would remedy this by pouring barley tea into the stone bowl, so feeling like a smart-aleck, I held up my glass of tea confidently and dumped it right into my stone bowl. I forgot that what I had in my hand was not barley tea and ended up accidentally concocting one of the most disgusting "beverages" I have ever had. I had done it again and accomplished my mission of getting strange looks from the waitresses.

I received decent service during both visits, and the food lived up to my expectations considering the price. If you are craving Japanese food and your friends want Korean food (a very common occurrence for me), then this is a place worth considering. One other restaurant that does something similar is Moa Box, which is a much smaller restaurant located on the other side of Coquitlam. Perhaps I will check that place out someday!

No Zomato page has been created for this restaurant yet. Click here for the Yelp page.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Episode #187: Satomi Sushi

Burnaby South, $$ (Moderately Priced)

The class that I TA for was coming to an end, which meant that lots of final reports were coming in for me to mark. To brace myself for the ordeal of hundreds of pages of reading, I went to have hundreds of calories of sushi. Since I had Patrick with me on this adventure, I unleashed my mighty fury and ordered as many dishes as I imagined that we could possibly finish. In my head, I thought that the more sushi I had, the sharper I would be while marking.

Satomi Sushi is a new authentic Japanese restaurant located across from Metrotown that has replaced Yakko Sushi, which was a place for budget sushi. Satomi Sushi is priced slightly higher than Yakko Sushi, but surprisingly, after having been open for just a few weeks, it was already loads more popular than Yakko Sushi. Luckily, as we strolled in for lunch, we managed to snag one of the last available tables.

Between the two of us, we ordered two lunch sets, an appetizer, and a few different types of sushi to get a good sample of their offerings. For some reason, they decided to give us all of our food almost simultaneously, which meant that we had to also take up the table next to us and look like complete gluttons for a few minutes.

Goma-ae - A

Our lunch started off on a high note with an excellent helping of Goma-ae. The sesame sauce was spread evenly to create a well-rounded sweetness that reverberated throughout the salad. The spinach itself was fresh and cut into small pieces, which made it easy to digest.

Aburi Spicy Salmon Battera - A-

Onto our first sushi dish, the Aburi Spicy Salmon Battera was also successful. Patrick's comment was that the salmon just "melts in your mouth," and this time, I completely agreed with him. The salmon also projected a slight smoky flavour, and the jalapeño and spicy mayonnaise were well-balanced as not to overwhelm any of the ingredients. The texture of the rice was decent, and it was not too tightly packed.

Blush Roll - A-

Not knowing which special roll to try, I went for the Blush Roll, which consisted of crab stick, salmon, avocado, and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise did a great job of tying the ingredients together, and the crab stick provided a nice meatiness to the roll. I'm not sure why it was called the Blush Roll though, as neither Patrick nor I were successful at making ourselves blush via eating the roll. We tried!

Salmon Scud Nigiri - A-
Aburi Tuna Nigiri - B
Aburi Ebi Nigiri - B+

Another interestingly named piece of sushi was the Salmon Scud Nigiri. The word "scud" refers to wind-driven clouds, and yet, I failed to sense any wind coming out of the nigiri. I was mildly disappointed. However, the salmon was fresh and nicely seasoned, while the tempura crumbs added a pleasant crunch to the nigiri. I also liked the garnish of green onion on the Aburi Tuna Nigiri, but the tuna itself was slightly overdone. Lastly, the Aburi Ebi Prawn Nigiri had a nice chew to it and was dressed with spicy mayonnaise to produce a rich, savoury flavour.

Lunch Box B

After all the opening flourishes, it was finally time to move on to our lunch sets. Patrick had the Lunch Box B, which came with a Salad, Chicken Teriyaki, Edamame, Assorted Tempura, Tuna and Sashimi, and some Miso Soup.

Salad - B+

The Salad was fresh and contained sufficient moisture. If anything, it would be nice if the Japanese salad dressing was spread out more evenly throughout the mixed greens.

Chicken Teriyaki - C+

Unfortunately, the Chicken Teriyaki was a bit of a flop. The chicken tasted burnt in places and was overdone. The teriyaki sauce acted as a saving grace by providing much needed flavour to the bean sprouts and the chicken.

Edamame - B+

One item that rarely comes with bento boxes is the Edamame. I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of edamame because (a) it is not the easiest thing to grade, (b) the beans flew all over the place as I tried to squish them out, much to Patrick's amusement, and (c) you know how most youngsters feel about vegetables. This particular Edamame was in line with the edamame I've had at other places, and it had a nice nutty flavour to it.

Assorted Tempura - B-

The Assorted Tempura in the bento box came with two prawns and one piece each of carrot, yam, and zucchini. The batter was quite thick and had a prominent potato chip flavour. The prawns were meaty and juicy, and they were the best among all the pieces. The vegetable tempura tended to be either too dry or sliced too thinly.

Tuna Sashimi - B
Salmon Sashimi - B+

The Sashimi came in neat cuts and was sliced to just the right thickness. The two pieces of tuna were amply soft, but had a slightly fishy aftertaste. Meanwhile, the three pieces of salmon had a delightfully smooth texture, though it was rather weak flavour-wise.

Chicken Karaage Teishoku

For my lunch set, I had the Chicken Karaage Teishoku, which came with a salad (identical to the salad above), some Chicken Karaage, steamed rice, a Miso Soup, and a daily appetizer. It wasn't until I got to the steamed rice that I realized that I might have ordered just a little too much. 

Chicken Karaage - B

The Chicken Karaage came with tender chicken and a rich flavour, but fell a little short of our expectations because it was on the drier side. It would also be nice if the exterior layer was more crispy.

Miso Soup - B
Marinated Lotus Root and Green Bean - B

Towards the end of my epic meal, I had the Miso Soup, which came with seaweed and green onion. It was not too salty, but the consistency was too thin for my liking. Beside it was a common teishoku appetizer, the Marinated Lotus Root and Green Bean. I liked how the lotus root was not dry at all, and the green bean had a slight crunch to it, though neither of these had a strong impact flavour-wise.

The two of us managed to finish all of the food, but in the end, I felt like I had just eaten the whole Pacific Ocean. The waitresses saw what happened and gave us a very stunned look. However, my eating tendencies have attracted tons of stunned looks in the past, so this was nothing new to me. All in all, the quality of the food and service met my expectations considering the price range. If price is your main concern, head over to Sushi Garden, where you will see some of the best prices for sushi in the city. If you would like something a little more refined but still within a reasonable price range, Satomi Sushi is the place for you.

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Episode #186: Sushi by Yuji

Vancouver (Southeast), $$ (Moderately Priced)

For the longest time, I have sworn that I would never become a Mac person or an iPerson. My previous experiences with Apple products were full of scratching my head for hours trying to figure out how to do the simplest of tasks. However, when my third Android phone began experiencing elderly issues, such as a highly inaccurate battery indicator, my curiosity gave in and I decided to go for an iPhone 6. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Luckily for me, a very patient sales representative offered to spend over an hour setting up my iPhone and teaching me how to use it. After my training session, I mastered the art of turning my iPhone on, and it was time to celebrate my epic achievement with some sushi.

Sushi by Yuji is a small authentic sushi restaurant that has garnered the attention and acclaim of many of Vancouver's food bloggers due to its finely executed nigiri sushi. The prices were actually not as high as I was expecting, but the ambience is very informal, and the restaurant does not look like much more than a take-out place. As Sushi by Yuji focuses mainly on sushi, the menu is not extensive, and there is no tempura.

Marinated Tuna - B+

The first dish to arrive was the Marinated Tuna, a small appetizer consisting of marinated small cubes of tuna, wasabi, sesame, and daikon. The smell of sesame was quite strong here, and the tuna had an excellent melty and soft texture. However, I didn't exactly expect the tuna to be almost wholly marinated with wasabi. With each bite, it felt like a missile was being shot up my nose. By the time I finished all of the tuna, my nose felt very... umm... mesmerizingly tranquilized.

Deluxe Assorted Sushi

Next, I had the Deluxe Assorted Sushi, their most extensive nigiri sushi combo. The nigiri was neatly presented, which prompted me to take out my phone and send a picture of it to my friends. At the same time, my next dish, the Tanuki Udon, also arrived. I wish they had given me a bigger table, because with two large dishes, my Canon G7x camera, my phone, my notebook and various eating utensils all sprawled out on my table, my hands were flailing about trying to grab the right things. I literally looked like I was doing the starfish in my seat. 

Negitoro Roll - B+

The Negitoro Roll was well-constructed with melty tuna, and the seaweed was remarkably easy to chew. A few pieces felt slightly rice-heavy, but in the other pieces, the rice structure was good.

Tuna Nigiri - A
Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - A-
Ikura Nigiri - A
Negitoro Nigiri - B
Chopped Scallop Nigiri - A-

Overall, the nigiri came with very generous cuts and was a rather good deal at only $19.50. The tuna had a wonderfully melty texture, and the sockeye salmon had a nice smoothness despite the slightly flawed cutting. The ikura (salmon roe) featured a rich flavour and a bubbly texture and went well with the sushi rice, which was not packed too tightly. The Negitoro Nigiri had a little too much green onion, so there was not much of a tuna flavour left in it. The chopped scallop was decent with a pleasant creamy, sweet flavour.

Hamachi Nigiri - B+
Tako Nigiri - A-
Engawa Nigiri - A
Saba Nigiri - A

Onto the bottom row, the hamachi also came in a rather huge cut and had a smooth texture, but it was slightly chewier than expected. The Tako Nigiri (octopus), however, was sliced thinly to avoid chewiness and had a well-balanced flavour. The Engawa Nigiri (halibut fin) had a nice bouncy chew to it, and its delicate, sweet flavour went well with a dip of soy sauce. Finally, the Saba Nigiri was fresh, smooth, and overall, an excellent finish to the Deluxe Assorted Sushi.

Tanuki Udon - B

For my filler, I ordered the Tanuki Udon, which came with bits of fried tempura batter, green onion, and ginger. This was simple and inexpensive ($7.75), but quite standard fare. The flavour of the ginger on top thoroughly permeated the broth, which was the sole unique characteristic of this udon. One thing I liked about this udon was that the tempura batter crumbs were served on the side, or otherwise, who knows what it would have become in the 30+ minutes it took me to finish the Deluxe Assorted Sushi?

I received friendly and patient service even though the restaurant was quite busy during my visit. If you are looking for the absolute best sushi in Vancouver, Sushi by Yuji is not the place to go, but it does offer consistently superior quality at reasonable prices. As such, my experience here was quite enjoyable. In fact, it was so enjoyable that I completely forgot about paying the bill until the cashier gave me a weird look (she was too polite to say anything). Oops...

Pejoy Biscuit Sticks

As soon as I paid my bill, I was rewarded with a packet of Pejoy biscuit sticks. According to Pejoy's website, Pejoy is Pocky's friend and is supposed to melt away your stresses for the day. Well, that's definitely worth paying the bill for!

Sushi by Yuji Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Episode #185: Suika

Vancouver (Northwest), $$$ (Higher Priced)

With finals season looming by and a tsunami of business reports about to come in for me to mark, I did my best to enjoy the calm before the storm by spending the afternoon at UBC and the evening at Suika with my friends Patrick and Sean. As expected, UBC did not fail to provide me with interestingly odd sights, which inspired me to make this interestingly odd video about them. After filming the video, it was time to head over to Suika, but me being me, I somehow ended up wandering into a construction site rather than the bus station. So close, yet so far...

Thankfully, we didn't lose our table even though none of us managed to arrive on time for our reservation. Suika is one of the most popular izakaya-style restaurants in Vancouver and is part of a group of restaurants that encompasses Kingyo, Suika, Rajio, and the newly opened Raisu. "Suika" is the Japanese word for watermelon, and there is an adorable watermelon ceiling lamp just above the main entrance. Inside, the atmosphere was exuberant, with the servers yelling the names of the dishes to the kitchen staff (a common practice in izakayas) and the full house of diners busily chatting away as they waited for their food. As a bonus, I even got a nice dose of the heebie jeebies from one of my biggest fears: the screaming baby of doom.

A genius at the restaurant came up with the divine phrase, "No sushi no life." I can't agree more! Since all of us wanted to have a life, we ordered both types of sushi they had.

Aburi Shime-Saba Sushi - A-

The Aburi Shime-Saba Sushi consisted of seared, cured mackerel and mustard soy dressing on pressed sushi. The saba was very soft and juicy. The soy dressing provided the saba with a rich flavour, and as Sean remarked, the sprinkles of green onion helped to balance out the characteristically fishy flavour of the saba.

Aburi Toro Avocado Battera - B

Next, the Aburi Toro Avocado Battera exhibited a good rice structure (not too firm) and came with some soft toro. However, the toro was not exactly melty, and the avocado was, strangely enough, quite hard and chewy (it wasn't ripe enough). I asked Patrick to see what he thought of the two types of Aburi sushi. Not only did he tell me that both tasted exactly the same to him, but he also thought that they tasted like the rich flavour of Rice Krispies popping into his mouth. Uhh... clearly, we were off to a great start...

Deluxe Suika Box

In order to have something nice to put on my Instagram feed, I ordered the Deluxe Suika Box, which came with 9 mini portions of various appetizers.

Nan-Kotsu Nang Bang - B-
Lotus Root Kinpira - B-
Eggplant with Soy Bean Broth - A-

In the top row, the Nan-Kotsu Nang Bang came with deep-fried chicken cartilage marinated in a Japanese sweet and sour broth. The broth had a lemony flavour and was a bit overwhelming, but to use the wording on the menu, the dish was also "such a refreshing!" The Lotus Root Kinpira was seasoned for an extra dimension of flavour, but could potentially fare better if presented with some broth, as some of the pieces ended up on the drier side. The Eggplant with Soy Bean Broth was well-executed, with cool, refreshing eggplant and a well-balanced broth.

Wow! Such a refreshing!!

Cold Tofu with Chili Oil - B-
Cucumber and Tako in Kimchi - A-
Negitoro Tartare - A-

The Cold Tofu with Chili Oil came with tofu that I found to be neither flavourful nor smooth. The chili oil that accompanied it had a decent spicy flavour, but this was not really absorbed by the tofu. Next, the Cucumber and Tako in Kimchi was a hit as the tako (octopus) had an appealing chew and the spiciness of the kimchi was just right. The flavours worked together nicely in harmony. In the Negitoro Tartare, the very soft toro was evenly infused with a slight chili flavour for an extra kick.

Salad with Saba - B
Cracker with Shrimp Cream Cheese - B
Tuna Tataki with Yuzu Jelly - A-

In the Salad with Saba, not much was done to balance the fishiness of the saba, as opposed to the Aburi Shime-Saba Sushi above. The Cracker with Shrimp Cream Cheese had a nice buttery flavour to it. Finally, the Tuna Tataki with Yuzu Jelly was another favourite of mine among the items in this box. The citrusy flavour of the yuzu jelly blended nicely with the soft, lightly seared tuna.

Chicken Karaage - B

Moving on from the Deluxe Suika Box, the Chicken Karaage came with tender chicken and a crispy outer layer. The chicken exhibited a nice spicy zing in the background, but it could have been meatier and juicier. All three of us thought that this dish tasted "okay." 

Beef Short Rib - A

Vancity Noms suggested this dish to me a while back, and I must say, this dish was "da bomb"! Featuring fried and tossed beef short rib with sweet balsamic and blanched spinach, this was a feast for both the eyes and the mouth. I loved the slight crispiness and subtle smoky flavour on the outside layer (which came from frying the short rib). Inside, the meat was very soft and almost melty. The rich flavour of the sweet balsamic was absorbed perfectly by the beef and releases a heavenly sweet and savoury explosion upon entering your mouth! The Beef Short Rib looks quite small in the photo above (and in many other food bloggers' photos as well), but in reality, I ended up having to share it with both of my grateful companions due to its size. This is definitely a must-try dish at Suika, but you might want to make it a sharable unless you are Vancity Noms... or Follow Me Foodie.

Our server was very friendly and patient. He offered to repeat the names of the items in the Deluxe Suika Box multiple times for me just to make sure I had them down correctly in my notes, even though the restaurant was packed. While there were many average dishes, we were also served a handful of excellent dishes dispersed throughout the meal. The prices are not too far above average, and I was satisfied with the quality-to-price ratio. If you decide to visit Suika, be sure to make a reservation!

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