I haven't been inside a haunted house for nearly 10 years, so I felt a slight tinge of apprehension when Tamsen suggested that I go through the Hallow Nights haunted house at EXIT with him. I tend to not be a screamer, but scaring me is a very trivial task. All you have to do is sneak a cucumber beside me, and I'll end up jumping five feet into the air. (Okay, maybe it's not quite that easy, but you get the point.) Of course, going into the haunted house meant having some sushi beforehand, because even if things were to go very wrong, my sushi would be there to help guide me through.
Our sushi restaurant of choice was Ikura Japanese Restaurant, a Chinese-operated Japanese restaurant in the busy part of Marpole. The restaurant looks bigger from the outside than the inside, but that's not to say that the dining area was small. However, what was indeed large was the number of choices on the menu. Not only were there four pages of special rolls to choose from, but there was also a 3-items-for-$10.99 special that spanned multiple pages. It's always nice to have a variety of options, but for me, it's like asking me to choose one wife out of 200 potential candidates. I would end up being a 199-timer. Surely enough, the waitress had to make at least three trips to our table before we were ready to order.
Miso Soup - B-
Our $10.99 special came with a Miso Soup. The Miso Soup contained very small amounts of green onion, seaweed, and tofu. It was thin in consistency and lacking in miso paste, but the broth still had adequate flavour.
Deep-Fried Oyster Roll - B-
Salmon Sashimi - A-
Tuna Sashimi - B
Curious to see what "sushified" deep-fried oysters would taste like, we chose the Deep Fried Oyster Roll as part of our three-item special. The Deep-Fried Oyster Roll ended up tasting quite heavy, and some pieces lacked crunch. That being said, the creamy avocado and the oyster indeed worked together.
Our two other items were the Salmon Sashimi and the Tuna Sashimi. The Salmon Sashimi was fresh and had a pleasant, buttery flavour. The Tuna Sashimi received some unclean cutting, but was not fishy. Both types of sashimi came in generous portions.
Black Angel Roll - B
While combing through the vast assortment of special rolls, I noticed that several of them used strawberry sauce, something that I have never seen used in a roll before. At first glance, this roll looks horrendously rice-heavy, but half of what's on top of the roll is imitation crab meat lightly dressed with strawberry sauce. This gave the crab meat a slightly sweeter flavour. Inside the roll was a harmonious mix of creamy avocado and prawn tempura. However, attention to detail was slightly lacking here, as one of the pieces contained a nice dose of prawn shell.
Chopped Scallop Nigiri - B-
Toro Nigiri - B
With the Chopped Scallop Nigiri, the scallop-to-rice ratio was a little off, making it hard to taste the sweetness of the scallops. However, I liked how the rice was not packed too tightly with the Toro Nigiri. The toro was soft, though not that easily distinguishable from regular tuna.
Champagne Roll - A-
Since neither Tamsen nor I are drinkers, we decided to satisfy our cravings the sushi way with the Champagne Roll, a deep-fried non-alcoholic roll with tuna, salmon, avocado, tamago, tobiko, unagi sauce, and spicy mayonnaise. This roll was a success. It featured very soft fried tuna and salmon, in addition to a well-executed, crispy outer layer. I really enjoyed the mix of creamy and sweet flavours from the avocado and the tamago, as well as the slight kick from the spicy mayonnaise.
Overall, we found both the service and the food to be decent for a restaurant in this price range. I wouldn't mind coming again to try out more of their endless selection of special rolls. And with that, we were headed off for a round of bubble tea before our haunted house adventure, after which I had to stuff myself with dessert. My day ended up with a nice, relaxing sugar crash.