Friday, October 14, 2016

Episode #199: Tomokazu

Vancouver (Northwest), $$ (Moderately Priced)

Once again, I have a totally yucky schedule this semester. With only one day of the week to go out for sushi, I've often found myself having sushi twice in one day. Last Friday, I had a giant roll chowdown with the legendary Patrick for lunch, and just four hours later, I was at Tomokazu for an all-you-can-eat dinner with Enoch and his brother Luke.

I consider it lucky that I got the chance to have dinner with Enoch and Luke because they are some of the most popular people at SFU. I don't think I've met anyone from my faculty who doesn't know either of them. Sometimes, it would take Enoch half an hour to get from one side of campus to the other (normally a ten-minute walk at most) because he has to say hello to about 20 friends along the way.

Tomokazu is the sister restaurant of Ninkazu in Richmond, an all-you-can-eat place that I used to frequent in my teenage years. Tomokazu was relatively empty when we entered, but by about 7 p.m., the large dining area was almost completely occupied. After we placed our orders, the food came lightning fast. In just 10 minutes, our entire table was covered with more than 20 dishes of food. I could not even snap pictures of the food as quickly as it came, much less eat it. It turned into one epic game of Snap-a-mole, which I epically lost.

Alaska Roll - C
Tomokazu Roll - B-

One of the first things to arrive was the Alaska Roll (salmon, avocado, lettuce, crab meat) and the Tomokazu Roll (tempura salmon, lettuce). The quality of the rolls was in line with what I had at other AYCE restaurants. The Alaska Roll featured sweet imitation crab meat but was otherwise quite bland. The lettuce was obtrusive texture-wise. The Tomokazu Roll turned out to be moderately spicy and had sufficient flavour.

Burning Kiss Roll - B-

We had no idea what the Burning Kiss Roll contained, but it looked like an attractive choice on the menu. Who doesn't want a burning kiss? Featuring spicy tuna, spicy mayonnaise, and bonito flakes, the Burning Kiss Roll was quite spicy. The other ingredients did not stand out much, and the spicy sauce is basically all you taste.

Ebi Sunomono - B

The Ebi Sunomono was a refreshing break after all that spiciness. The sunomono was on the milder side and rather acidic. 

Gomaae - B-

The Gomaae featured chewy spinach and thick peanut sauce. Luke took one bite of it and exclaimed that it tasted like chocolate. Yes, we all burst out laughing when he said that, although there was some truth to his claim.

Salmon Sashimi - A-
Tuna Sashimi - B-

The Salmon Sashimi was noticeably fresh and had a nice, buttery flavour. The texture and thickness were also just right. It was the highlight of our whole dinner. The Tuna Sashimi was somewhat soft and not as obviously fresh.

Korean Salmon Sashimi - B

Another item that looked attractive was the Korean Salmon Sashimi, mainly because we had no idea what it was. It turned out to be salmon sashimi sliced into longer strips and dressed with a sweet, soy-like sauce. The sauce sort of dulled the buttery flavour of the sashimi.

Beef Tataki - C+
Tuna Tataki - C

As Enoch is a big fan of tataki, we had several orders of the Beef Tataki and the Tuna Tataki. Each of them was sliced into very small pieces. Each slice of Beef Tataki was about the size of a large haw flake. The Beef Tataki tasted virtually cooked, while the Tuna Tataki was overdone (which was hard to prevent due to its tiny size). Tangy ponzu sauce lined the bottom of the dish.

Oyster Motoyaki - C

The Oyster Motoyaki came with a rich, greasy custard that had a strong mayonnaise flavour. Unfortunately, the oysters inside were tough and largely unchewable. 

Abalone Sushi - C+
Shark Fin Sushi - B
Lobster Sushi - C
Chopped Scallop Sushi - C+

Next, we got every one of the fancier-sounding types of nigiri on the menu. The Abalone Sushi came with a layer of wakame and small bits of abalone on top. The sushi rice was packed quite tightly (as expected), and there was little abalone flavour. The best piece of nigiri was the Shark Fin Sushi, which was very savoury and came with sufficient moisture. It was mixed in with some jellyfish. The Lobster Sushi and the Chopped Scallop Sushi came in generous pieces, but were rather flavourless.

Salmon Teriyaki - B-
Chicken Teriyaki - C+
Unagi Fried Rice - C

Onto the cooked food, the Salmon Teriyaki came in a thin slice and was slightly overcooked. The Chicken Teriyaki came with tender chicken, but the skin was a little hard to chew. The Unagi Fried Rice featured very little unagi, if any. The fried rice itself was undercooked.

BBQ Korean Pork - B-
New York Steak - C+ 
Beef Short Rib - B

The BBQ Korean Pork and the New York Steak were both slightly overdone and a bit tough. However, that was not the case with the Beef Short Rib, which was surprisingly easy to chew, partially because it was also quite fatty. It came with a sweet marinade and exhibited a nice grilled flavour.

Salmon Kama - B+
Shishamo - B-

The second-best item of the night was the Salmon Kama. It was juicy and savoury, and a light lemony zing accented the flavours well. The Shishamo (smelt fish with many eggs) came with lots of roe and was crispy and salty.

Prawn Tempura - B-
Yam Tempura - B-

Many years ago, when I was a regular at Ninkazu (and hardly knew that better sushi existed), one of my favourite things to get would be the Prawn Tempura. I remembered it to be surprisingly good for an AYCE restaurant, but this one was just okay. The batter was more greasy than crispy, though the prawn inside was still juicy. The Yam Tempura was slightly less greasy, but a little harder in texture.

Agedashi Tofu - B-
Vegetable Samosa - B

The Agedashi Tofu was crispy with soft tofu inside. The Vegetable Samosas were served hot and crispy and were accompanied by a dash of sweet chili sauce. It was like a spring roll but with a different shape.

Slice of Orange - C+

Upon Enoch's request, I shall rate the Slice of Orange as well. They actually attempted to make the Slice of Orange two slices, but because the cutting was vague, the two pieces were joined together at the bottom. The Slice of Orange ended up being about as big as a quarter of an orange and featured the central column of the orange. At the top of the slice, near the central column, were three orange seeds. The exocarp (exterior wall) and the pulp of the orange were a vibrant orange hue, while the mesocarp (interior wall) had a whiter appearance. Texture-wise, the Slice of Orange was not especially easy to chew. The taste of the orange suggested that the orange had not fully matured yet. It would have been nice to see a little more sugar content inside the orange.

Mango Pudding - C
Fruit Jello - B

After all that food, Enoch still had the stomach room for multiple servings of Mango Pudding. I was out-eaten once again. Unfortunately, they didn't mix the ingredients in the Mango Pudding well enough, and it tasted rather powdery. Some parts of the pudding had a clear, transparent colour. The Fruit Jello fared better and was juicy, sweet, and refreshing.

We had no problems with the service during our visit. However, they do stick to their two-hour time limit quite strictly, and we were asked to place our last call around 1.5 hours after we sat down. Overall, the food quality was in line with what I expected for an all-you-can-eat restaurant. At Tomokazu, there are fewer fancy items on the all-you-can-eat menu, but the prices are also lower. 

When we were all done, we proceeded to the washroom and saw this...

"Govern yourself appropriately"

...which makes me wonder what could have happened in the washrooms before that led to this sign being posted. Let us all ponder about that for a few moments...

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


Curiously Carmen said...

Hey, I know Enoch too! We went to high school together =P. Tomokazu is one of the better AYCE places, I used to go for their late night special. Brings back memories!

Raymond Zeng said...

Oh lol... Enoch really does know everyone!

I liked how there were no especially poor items at Tomokazu. I did not have to give out a single C-, which is not the case with most other AYCEs!

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