Mega SushiPosted: 06/29/2012
I once declared to Pickles that my mission is to try every restaurant in Vancouver. She remarked that it would be impossible, considering how there are so many small neighbourhood restaurants that aren’t even registered on Urbanspoon. Also, restaurants are always changing names and owners, plus the vastness of the Vancouver area…even if I were to eat every meal out for the rest of my life, the mission seemed quite bleak. Anyways, eating at every restaurant in Vancouver would mean a whole lot of sushi. To satisfy my mom’s sushi craving one Saturday night, the family decided to try Mega Sushi on Austin Avenue, which is housed in a small complex that also includes a Panago.
We were seated promptly, and right away, I noticed that the restaurant is quite dark. It’s a small establishment, but I saw quite a few takeout customers, in addition to several tables dining in. There were two waitresses, who, while not compulsively friendly, were efficient enough. Anyways, moving on to what we ordered…
My brother and I, thinking of our usual favourite at Sushi Garden, ordered the Alaska Roll. Unlike the version at Sushi Garden and Sushi Town, there was no citrus dressing, and the fresh, rather chunky salmon on top was instead replaced by a thinner piece of smoked salmon. I personally enjoyed the nice presentation. Again, unlike the old staples of Sushi Garden and Sushi Town, it was apparent that great care had been taken into creating our dish. Still, we felt that this roll–basically a standard California Roll with the requisite amount of imitation crab and avocado, with smoked salmon and chopped green onion on top, tasted quite ordinary. Also, I thought that size of the roll itself was quite small, although I suppose it was worth the price we paid.
My dad loves nigiri, so we ordered the Spicy Tuna Combo as well, which consisted of a spicy tuna roll, two salmon nigiri, two tuna nigiri, and two ebi nigiri. We found the spicy tuna roll to have a different taste than regular spicy tuna rolls, exhibiting more of a sweet chili flavour than the usual spiciness. I didn’t like the way the sauce was drizzled all over the roll, as I personally prefer the sauce to be only covering the tuna itself. This method caused uneven distribution of sauce, and wasn’t really the ideal way to enjoy the roll. For the nigiri, I didn’t think there was enough rice for the amount of fish. However, all the fish tasted quite fresh, although the tuna was perhaps a little too fishy.
My dad also ordered the Tempura Udon, which is his go-to at sushi restaurants. I thought the bowl was quite cute, with a handy handle (harharhar) so the waitresses could transport it easily. The freshly fried tempura included prawn, zucchini, carrot, and green bean. The udon, meanwhile, differed from the typical udon served at other establishments, with the addition of a copious amount of bean sprouts and cabbage. My dad commented that the broth wasn’t simply just sweet, but was also dense and thick. He enjoyed the noodles, however, as they were chewy, and the portion size was respectable for the price.
My mom chose the California Bento Box, which included the titular California roll, a green salad, tempura, miso soup, and beef (or chicken) teriyaki. Being Korean born and bred, my mom really didn’t approve of the lack of rice in this bento box. I figured it would be lurking underneath the teriyaki, but guess not. The tempura, like the batch served with my dad’s tempura, was freshly fried, and the salad, too, was comprised of fresh ingredients. She had little to comment on the teriyaki itself, saying that it was quite ordinary, which succinctly summarizes her verdict on the whole meal.
Served in the same bowl as the Tempura Udon was my brother’s Chicken Teriyaki Don. He found that there was way too much sauce drenched on his chicken, although I find this is quite usual for teriyaki at most Japanese restaurants. The teriyaki sauce itself tasted quite ordinary and generic. He also found that there were too many onions, resulting in the onions overpowering any other flavour he could detect. Still, he found that the portion size, again, was well worth the price.
Lastly, I ordered my usual, an Oyako Don. I like to order these because I enjoy how some simple ingredients can really come together to create something so tasty–just some rice, chicken, steamed egg, daishi broth, and sometimes onions and button mushrooms. Now, this version was nowhere near as simple as I like my oyako dons to be. Like the other food we sampled, there were too many ingredients, as you can see. In addition to the usual ingredients, this version included julienned carrots, green onions, red peppers, green peppers, and even some bean sprouts. The addition of these ingredients reminded me a lot of my brother’s chicken teriyaki don above, and not in a pleasant way. The sauce also tasted quite different, and not at all like usual daishi broth. Included with the typical sweetness was also a saltiness that I found bordering on the unpleasant. I didn’t enjoy this appropriated oyako don at all and ended up eating very little of it.
Before we left, however, we received a complimentary order of Tuna Tataki. I was quite excited as I love tataki and it’s not very frequently on the menu at most sushi restaurants. However, this was some version of nigiri tataki…the sauce was quite spicy. I personally didn’t mind the addition of rice, however, since it helped texturally as a contrast with the rather mushy tuna. Like my oyako don, however, I thought that there were simply too many ingredients to enjoy this properly, and it was clear they’d appropriated the idea of tuna tataki itself to suit their own purposes. Still, I guess you can’t complain too much since it’s free. According to several online reviews, Mega Sushi has a practice of giving complimentary dishes, so I guess that’s one incentive to try it out?
As a whole though, I wasn’t impressed with our experience at Mega Sushi. While I’d definitely characterize authentic Japanese food as mild, every dish here was either too salty or too sweet, and we didn’t touch our soy sauce. Price-wise, I found this place a good bargain, considering our complimentary tataki as well as free miso soup, which isn’t a common thing in Vancouver. The service was fine, but could definitely be friendlier. To be honest, though, I don’t think this place is much competition for Matoi Sushi, and I would rather drive to Matoi than eat here again. I don’t mind chefs appropriating dishes to create something new, but here the appropriations weren’t half as good as the originals.
12-2662 Austin Avenue