Spaghetei すぱげっ亭Posted: 05/28/2013
Spaghetei recently opened near Robson and Denman, taking over a space previously occupied by Benkei Ramen. SB, Dolph, Justin and I decided to try out this new restaurant and its somewhat unfamiliar specialty, Japanese-style pasta. When we visited, the restaurant was still in its soft opening phase. This meant that our food was discounted by 30%, but that they were also only accepting cash as payment.
We started off with some complimentary Pesto-Garlic Bread, with one piece being brought out for each person at the table. At first, we we were somewhat disconcerted by the vibrant green colour of the bread, but it simply tasted like regular garlic bread. It was well-toasted, crisp, and warm. This was accompanied by some kind of Soup or broth that looked like water with a few lettuce shreds floating around. We couldn’t really identify what this was, except that it tasted vaguely salty. Well, I’m not going to complain about free food, so whatever.
SB decided on the Meat Sauce ($11) pasta, which was spaghetti with minced beef and vegetables topped with a Japanese Bolognese sauce, sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese. He thought that this dish lacked a clear Japanese element. The tomato flavour was quite mild, while the meat sauce itself was a little bit thin. I found the dish to be a bit bland overall, and would have appreciated some pepper, which wasn’t provided at the tables. The noodles were also done a bit past al dente, although SB found that this didn’t hinder his enjoyment of his meal.
I opted for the Mentaiko ($13), spaghetti tossed in spicy cod roe with button mushrooms and dried seaweed. I’ve always been partial to the mentaiko udon at Sushi Garden, so I thought this would be right up my alley. Sadly, though, I preferred the version at Sushi Garden, which has enoki mushrooms and tastes a lot cheesier. I found the portion size to be a bit small for $13 (although we only paid 70% of this price because of their promotion). Overall, this dish was quite average. It was a tad spicy, but overall quite mild, which I suppose is characteristic of most Japanese food. The four of us thought that it tasted the most Japanese out of the four dishes we ordered–possibly due to the cod roe and the seaweed. The mushrooms included in the dishes had a strange spiciness to them that reminded me of wasabi for some reason. While I enjoyed my lunch, I didn’t think that it was worth $13.
Justin had the Neapolitan ($12), which to my disappointment wasn’t spaghetti with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream, but instead spaghetti in a mild ketchup sauce and served with chicken, bacon, sausages, and vegetables. Described on the menu as a “Japanese all-time classic”, it was again quite mild. There was nothing wrong with the dish itself, with all the meats being cooked correctly, but it failed to draw us in. The noodles themselves were again quite chewy and had good bite.
Lastly, Dolph, our resident noodle aficionado, had the Butter and Soy Sauce ($13), which included shrimp, mushrooms, and spinach. She commented that the sauce tasted exactly like what she expected–simply butter and soy sauce mixed together. Like the rest of us, she failed to see anything extraordinary about the dish, commenting that it tasted like something that could easily be made at home. I suppose that the homey quality of the food could also be seen as a positive aspect of the restaurant, though.
I think that overall, the four of us enjoyed our lunch at Spaghetei, although that might be due to the excellent company we had in each other rather than the food. We were curious about the restaurant itself, since the concept of Japanese pasta isn’t a widespread one in Vancouver, despite the prevalence of other types of Japanese food available to us. The food was decent, but bordered on bland, and in general I felt that my mom could whip up many of the dishes on the menu. I also wasn’t sure about the Japanese influence on the dishes that we sampled. Still, the service is attentive, and there is a certain charming quality to the homeyness of the dishes that we sampled, so I would recommend that you give Spaghetei a try.
1741 Robson Street