Before we embark on this food adventure, let me first say this: Chinese food is not really within my comfort zone. Well, first of all, “Chinese” food is an umbrella term for so many different cuisines, many of which are available to us in Vancouver. Generally, my knowledge of Chinese food extends to a very minimal understanding of Hong Kong cafes, dimsum, and Taiwanese beef noodles. Even at these restaurants, I depend on someone (usually SB) to help me navigate the menu.
That being said, my family’s trip to New Szechuan Restaurant was kind of a failure. We really should have asked the waitress for recommendations (she was super friendly and probably would have been happy to oblige). Please keep the above in mind as you read my review, which is, after all, from the perspective of an amateur food blogger and not an experienced food connoisseur.
New Szechuan is a small restaurant in a somewhat abandoned looking area, and not the kind of place you’d notice if you were driving by. It looks more like someone’s dining room than an actual restaurant, and the tables are covered with layers of plastic wrap, with each layer removed to create a clean dining space for the next customer. Despite being in a secluded area, there was a solid number of customers in the restaurant throughout our stay, and the service was efficient and friendly.
We started with our customary order of the Hot and Sour Soup ($6.95). This was a nicely sized portion for the price, and chock full of ingredients. The soup itself was of a good consistency, not too thick or watered down. My mom usually doesn’t have any of this even if we order it, saying that the sour taste is too overpowering for her. However, she liked the version here, where the sourness was nicely offset by the spicy aftertaste. The soup had very soft, tasty morsels of tofu, pork, mushroom, and shrimp, and we could detect a bit of sesame oil as well.
I had my heart set on the wet Tan Tan Noodles ($5.50). This was my first time having tan tan noodles, and it was an interesting experience. The noodles were served in a spicy sauce with preserved vegetables and pork, as well as chopped peanuts, which helped add some texture. The taste reminded me of Korean traditional herbal medicines, and although I didn’t particularly enjoy my first taste, I somehow ended up finishing the whole bowl. The sauce was at once sweet, tart, salty, bitter, and strangely addicting. The noodles themselves were cooked perfectly. This was my favourite dish of the night by far.
We also had the Sliced Pork with Chili and Garlic Sauce ($10.95). Instead of being somewhat peppery like we expected, this tasted mostly sweet and sour. Our table was divided on this–my mom and I really enjoyed this dish while my brother couldn’t stand the tartness. In addition to the tartness and sweetness, it was also salty, making it perfect to eat with the bucket of rice we ordered as well. The pieces of pork were tender, with some pieces having a bit of fat that made them extra delicious.
Next, we had the Diced Chicken with Black Bean Sauce ($9.50) (not pictured). We were expecting the famous heat level of Szechuan cuisine, but it was more salty than anything else. Still, it was fine when paired with rice (which we ordered a bucketful of). This wasn’t a particularly memorable dish, and I could taste very little of the black bean in the sauce, to be honest. The vegetables were crisp and the chicken was juicy, but ultimately, it wasn’t a dish I would order again.
And onwards we go to the Szechuan Style Spicy Prawns ($12.95). This was a dish of pan-fried prawns with green pepper, onions, and chili peppers. With all those ingredients, you can probably tell this was spicy, although my family still managed to polish it off. The sauce was unevenly distributed, leaving some of the prawns much too salty and some much too bland. My mom also wasn’t too impressed by the aesthetics of this dish. Flavourwise, everything became a little too repetitive, although that probably has to do with the dishes we ordered. Nothing stuck out as being perfectly memorable for me, except the tan tan noodles.
Each member of my family had a different favourite dish from this meal (ie. the tan tan noodles for me, the pork for my mom), with the Minced Beef and Tofu with Chili and Garlic Sauce ($9.50) being my brother’s. Although this was tasty and savoury, once again, I found the flavours rather repetitive. Rather than being simply peppery, however, this had more of a lingering aftertaste, and was perfect to eat with the small bucket of rice we ordered. The tofu was, once again, soft and in perfectly sized morsels to eat, while the beef was somewhat of an afterthought. The sauce for this one was a little oily, but still fine.
Maybe the lesson here is to definitely ask the server for recommendations when charting unfamiliar territory. We didn’t particularly enjoy our meal here, but perhaps we ordered the wrong dishes. (We definitely forgot about including some sort of veggies, carnivores that we are…). But based on what we ordered, the food here was fine but not memorable, with the flavours all being quite similar. At least I discovered my inexplicable love for tan tan noodles…
New Szechuan Restaurant 新四川飯店
1-511 Cottonwood Avenue
Let’s set the scene for this one. It was the weekend before school started, with all of us both anticipating and dreading the start of term. This term was a little different for me. I was going to be working full-time instead of attending classes, and starting work a week after the start of classes. So while I still had a bit of my summer left, for Sam, Dolph, and Pickles, it was their last weekend of freedom, which is why we headed out to Joey Coquitlam before a night of hooliganing. (We actually just sat on a blanket in the park and blew bubbles. Who needs adulthood?)
I’d been to Joey before, although to the Burnaby location a couple years ago. I didn’t remember much about it…well, it was very dark, the waitresses seemed pretty but identical, and the food was mediocre. While I wasn’t impressed with that first visit, I wasn’t in the mood to go to the effort of discovering some new hidden gem in the area, and I was also not in the mood to revisit the many Korean restaurants in the Burquitlam area. Plus, the deal with a chain restaurant: while the food may not be fantastic, in general, most people will find something that they like there, making it a good choice for a group gathering.
Sam ordered the Ahi Tuna Club ($15.50 with skinny fries, +$1.75 for sub soup/salad/yam fries), subbing the fries for Chanterelle Mushroom Soup. The sandwich had grilled ahi tuna, red pepper relish, arugula, and panko onion rings, panko being a type of Japanese breadcrumbs. The bun was nice and moist, while the relish complemented it nicely. The tuna, meanwhile, was not too fishy, actually to the point that she couldn’t really tell that she was eating tuna. The onion rings were crispy and well-seasoned, but Sam chose to eat them separately from the sandwich. She personally thought that her sandwich was acceptable, but probably not worth what she paid for it. The soup was also quite average. Although the menu claimed it contained a splash of sherry, it tasted regular.
We all ended up choosing from the “Sandwiches” heading in the menu, with Dolph opting for the Lobster Grilled Cheese ($15), subbing the fries for Caesar Salad. The cheese was both Brie and cheddar, and the sandwich was served with cocktail sauce. Dolph was disappointed at the distinct lack of lobster flavour in her sandwich, but I thought that was only to be expected. (With $15, what could we really hope for?) There was nothing great about her sandwich, and she said she preferred the grilled cheese from Meat & Bread. The Caesar salad, meanwhile, was a bit bland; adding a bit of lemon (which she took from my plate) helped to enhance the flavours. She did like that the lettuce was fresh, though.
As a former resident of California, I’m always amused by “Californian” items on menus. What really makes something “California”? Avocados? So I was somewhat amused when Pickles chose to order the California Chicken Club ($13.75), subbing her fries for Yam Fries. Surprisingly, there was no avocado here, but instead aged cheddar, smoky bacon, and spicy mayo on a Portuguese bun. Pickles found it a tasty burger, but would have appreciated a toothpick to hold it together. Also, there was too much chicken in comparison to the other components, and the chicken itself was quite dry. The yam fries were average, but what she expected out of the meal.
Lastly, I had the Baja Fish Tacos ($13.50), which came in a trio without an accompanying side. The tacos consisted of fish and shrimp and guacamole housed in a white corn tortilla, served with hot sauce. These tacos were nothing memorable, and I definitely would have preferred just two tacos and a side of fries as opposed to three. I found the omission of fries odd, considering that all the other sandwiches were served with fries as the default. At least the tacos were easy to eat, and there was nothing terribly amiss about them. The tomatoes and lettuce appeared satisfyingly fresh, and the ratio of ingredients was perfect. I also didn’t see the point of including the hot sauce, as it didn’t really add anything to the tacos. Also, the sauce was one of those hot sauces that have no other flavour than spiciness, which I personally don’t enjoy. Although I got sufficiently full from nabbing yam fries off of Pickles’s plate, I wish that these tacos were served with some kind of side.
What did we get out of this visit to Joey’s? The food was acceptable but nothing spectacular. But in reality, the experience was definitely in line with my expectations. All I really wanted was a yummy, cheap Bellini and a night out with my friends. Expectations are everything.
550 Lougheed Highway
From July to August of this year, my nine-year-old cousins were visiting from Korea. Five weeks is quite a long time, and often I felt like Vancouver didn’t have enough attractions for the two of them. (There’s only so many times you can go to Stanley Park or the Vancouver Aquarium, huh?) Having these kids around didn’t really add to my culinary experiences–there is a real limit to what kids will eat, especially when they’re from Korea and not really open to trying foods from other cultures. One Saturday night though, it was so swelteringly hot that my dad basically decided he couldn’t stay in the humidity of the house, so we ended up having dinner at Toe Dam, a Korean BBQ joint, part of North Road’s Koreatown.
We saw duck on the menu and happily ordered it. The restaurant had some sort of summer special going on, which included raw duck meat for barbecuing and duck stew. So here is the Half Duck, which comes with potatoes, squash, mushrooms, and onion, as you can see. There was a large amount of meat, but once it got on the grill, the pieces all shrivelled up and were much too fatty for us to enjoy anything. It definitely was not a lot of food for the price we paid. On the plus side, though, the veggies did taste fresh. Also, we only received two bowls of steamed rice as accompaniment to the meat, which we didn’t think were enough for the set at all., especially considering that the set included both the barbecue meat and stew.
We also ordered Tofu with Kimchi, which is a type of Korean “anju” (a type of dish that generally accompanies alcohol). We simply ordered it here because the kids love tofu, and there weren’t a lot of other options for them. The kimchi contained a lot of fatty pork, with the pan-fried kimchi itself being sweet and sour. The tofu itself was simple and uncooked, which is the way this dish is served, in order to compliment the strong flavours in the kimchi. We found that there was way too much kimchi in relation to the amount of tofu, and in general, I found that the pork grease made the kimchi unpleasant to eat without the neutralizing effect of the tofu. I probably would not order this again.
Besides the half duck above, we also received Duck Stew as part of the combo. (I guess that’s where the other half of the duck went?) Actually, there was a lack of duck flavour. The only real flavour I could distinguish was that of potatoes. The soup itself was a typical Korean one, both spicy and savoury, with lots of flavour from the sesame seeds and chili powder. It was an unmemorable stew at best.
The kiddies had never had duck before and I wasn’t sure they would eat it, so we also ordered Mul Naengmyun, chewy noodles in a cold, beef-based broth. This was a pretty standard version–although the noodles were very, very hard to break off, especially for the kids. The broth was predominantly sweet, a little overly so, although it was nicely cold. Considering the headache and sluggishness I felt later in the night, the sweetness was probably a result of MSG. This wasn’t exceptional, and, to be honest, the kids didn’t really enjoy it, so I ended up having to eat most of it.
All in all, Toe Dam wasn’t anything memorable. It’s simply another Korean restaurant on North Road. The food was okay, but I wouldn’t recommend the duck, and we did have issues with every plate. Also, the service was friendly, but rather incompetent–we had to repeat our requests for water way too many times. Plus, I did not think non-Korean customers got the same quality of service. I guess that’s inevitable, but it was noticeably so here–not that they were outright hostile, but they were a bit indifferent. I would rather visit another of the many Korean restaurants on North Road than come here again.
Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ
250-329 North Road
Back to our regularly scheduled programming of: In Hye attempts to find a decent sushi place near her house. So far we’ve tried three places (Yoko Sushi, Mega Sushi, and Matoi Sushi). The first two left us dissatisfied and the last one is great but a bit too far. Today we try Sushi Karis, located on Austin Avenue, which is Korean-owned and operated. It’s a small place, with less than ten (maybe five?) tables, although I saw quite a few people getting takeout. There’s a lone sushi chef, and the waiter looked awfully like he might be his son. Cute, a family business.
Let’s start off with the usual, my dad’s Assorted Sashimi, consisting of salmon, tuna, tako, and sockeye salmon. And as usual, my dad didn’t have much to say about it. I think he’s getting sick of sashimi…it’s too bad because that’s pretty much the only thing he’s allowed to eat, health-wise. I tried a piece of salmon and it was definitely fresh, cut in nice sizeable chunks, and not overly fishy. My dad ate all of it without any particular comment so it was acceptable–he’s definitely the kind of person who will complain if there’s anything at all wrong.
My mom ordered their Beef Teriyaki Bento, which included assorted tempura, the teriyaki over rice, a California roll, and green salad. A word of caution about our family: we like our food mild. Anything slightly salty or sweet really sets us off. My mom liked how the beef was sweet, in a natural way, not overly sweet like a lot of teriyaki is. She also found it a little salty, but not overly so.
My brother ordered the same bento box, but with Chicken Teriyaki. He commented that the chicken was not overcooked, but the teriyaki sauce was unevenly distributed. Both bento boxes had freshly fried tempura, with the California roll being quite standard. Both my mom and brother thought that a serving of miso soup would have been a nice addition to the lunch boxes, but overall, they were both satisfied with their meals.
I went with my usual in the Negitoro Roll. Like the California roll included with the two bento boxes, this was acceptable but nothing special. The fish was a little too cold, though, like it had just come out of the freezer. The coldness of the fish took away from its enjoyable texture, so there wasn’t the desired contrast between the toro and the green onions. Still, it was not bad. I’ve definitely had worse, but I’ve also had better negitoro rolls.
Despite having an infamously small appetite, one negitoro roll wasn’t enough to get me full, so I also ordered a Red and White Roll, which is one of their specialty rolls. This was a simple spicy tuna roll, topped with chopped scallop with some kind of spicy mayo sauce and masago on top. I tend to choose specialty rolls carefully (weighing whether or not I like all of the ingredients), and I enjoyed this–all the ingredients complemented each other well. I was surprised at how spicy the sauce was, it was the type of spiciness that keeps you wanting more. The one thing I would have fixed was that the roll fell apart as I ate it. Still, props to the sushi chef–all of my family members noted that he was trying his best.
I always feel sympathy for family businesses and this was definitely one of those occasions. Although this is a typical neighbourhood sushi joint (neither exceptional nor terrible) that is dependent on nearby residents’ takeout orders, I enjoyed my dinner here, and felt like I should support this small family business. The food itself is acceptable, and one of the better places for sushi in the immediate area.
504 Nelson Street
PS: Sam and I have both recently revamped our Twitters–meaning we have two separate accounts instead of one for just the blog! If you don’t find us incredibly annoying (obviously you don’t if you’ve read this far), please take the time to follow us–here and here!
Having moved to Coquitlam around a year ago, my family has been on an informal quest to find a great sushi place in our neighbourhood. The best luck we’ve had so far is at Matoi Sushi. The prices at Matoi are a little on the high side (although this is reflected in the quality of their ingredients). I’d also heard great things about Fuji Sushi, but sadly they recently relocated to Port Moody. One summer day, when we weren’t exactly in the mood to drive all the way out to Coquitlam Centre to visit Matoi, we decided to try one of the sushi places we always drive by on our way home: Yoko Sushi.
Actually, our first choice was Sushi Karis (review upcoming), but they were closed–I believe it was a Sunday or a statutory holiday. So we just drove a couple more blocks and ended up at Yoko. From the beginning it was clear this place is Korean-owned and -operated–the one waitress and the burly sushi chefs were all communicating in rapid-fire Korean. I’ve had some good and not-so-good experiences at Korean-owned sushi places, but I wanted to keep my mind open, so we began ordering.
After ordering, we all received some complimentary Miso Soup. I was actually a little excited for this, considering how infrequently we receive miso soup free-of-cost in Vancouver. Usually I love free things…but not today. This was the most unbearably salty miso soup I’d ever had. It contained the requisite pieces of green onion and little pieces of tofu, but other than that it tasted like a bowl of salt water, with a little bit of miso flavouring. Not a great start to our meal, although I appreciate the gesture.
I was excited to see that they had an Oyako Don on the menu, and ordered it. I shouldn’t have. What I love best about an oyako don is the mild flavours from the daishi broth and the steamed egg. I’m pretty sure this didn’t have any daishi broth–it tasted a little like plain old soy sauce and a little like teriyaki sauce, which I hate. The chicken was woefully overcooked (as you can see), resulting in a bitter, tough product. The egg itself was also overcooked, being mostly in one huge chunk, rather than mixing naturally with the rice. I was disappointed with this, which was as far from an authentic oyako don as you can get. As with the miso soup, I wasn’t sure why they bothered putting this on the menu, since it only disappointed me.
Meanwhile, my mother ordered the Vegetable Yakisoba. She was hoping for a mild version so she could share with my dad, who can’t consume too much sugar or sodium due to dietary restrictions. If the previous items were any indication, you’ll know that this yakisoba was far from mild. Although it came in a heaping mound of noodles and veggies, there was too much sauce, which was both too salty and too sweet. The sauce simply drenched the noodles and veggies, leaving them soggy and unappetizing. were incredibly mushy and not at all chewy.
My dad had the Assorted Sashimi, as he usually does at most sushi restaurants. Included here was the requisite salmon and tuna, as well as some wild salmon, tako, and accompanying vegetables. My dad wasn’t sold on the presentation–he felt that everything was randomly thrown together, which he didn’t appreciate. He and I both prefer sashimi to be presented on a bamboo plate (plate? tray? not sure what the right word would be). He said that the fish was adequate, but nothing special, and that both the veggies and fish were not especially fresh.
Lastly, my brother went for one of their bento boxes, which came with three pieces of nigiri, tempura, agedashi tofu, gyoza, chicken teriyaki and green salad. As a whole, he found much of the food very salty–the gyoza, the salad dressing, even the tuna for the nigiri. The tempura was limp and not freshly fried, and the food in general was mediocre. Although the amount of food was adequate for the price we paid (something between ten and fifteen dollars), it was really no use because it was much too salty for anyone to eat very much of it.
So the verdict on Yoko Sushi: nope. As you see above, most of the food was too salty for our liking, and the presentation so-so. Also the restaurant itself was badly in need of an upgrade, as I was under the impression that it was quite old and not very clean. The service was sparse but friendly, but I definitely will not be coming back, as the food is subpar, and sushi places in Vancouver are a dime a dozen.
1001 Austin Avenue
When deciding where to eat, I’m quite dependent on Urbanspoon. I scope out blogger reviews, diner reviews, and the general consensus on the web about a restaurant before deciding to go. Well, my family had been hearing great things about South Castle (or, 남한산성) from our new neighbours, so we decided to try it out. I tried checking it out on Urbanspoon beforehand but…there was no entry for it yet in Urbanspoon. (As Mr. Kurtz would say…The horror!) Still, the North Van location seemed to be doing fairly well, so I registered the Coquitlam location on Urbanspoon myself, then headed there one night with my family in tow.
We start off here with the Banchan, as we do in most Korean restaurants. Here we received squid marinated in a spicy sauce, daikon kimchi, and some fish cakes. The banchan was all standard, with nothing amiss. I thought the daikon kimchi (kakdugi) was particularly good, considering a lot of restaurants have subpar kimchi because they pay less attention to their banchan in favour of their entrees.
I opted for the Seafood Soon Doo Boo, or spicy soup with soft tofu. It came out bubbling hot, as you can see. I found it odd that there were no other options for the soon doo boo (ie., beef), but I suppose that’s simply because this isn’t their specialty here. The soup was full of shrimp, squid, clams, zucchini, mushrooms, and one raw egg. I liked how it was spicy and sweet, but not too sweet. I’m not a huge fan of MSG, and I liked that I could taste very little of it in the broth here. The portion size was respectable for the price, and the tofu was quite soft and served in large pieces. My dish, like the others, was served with a bowl of steamed rice, which was cooked perfectly.
My brother and dad both had the Soon Dae Gook with rice. For those of you who don’t know, soon dae is a Korean blood sausage, basically a pig’s intestine stuffed with ingredients, usually rice or noodles or sometimes meat. Soon Dae Gook is then a usually peppery, spicy sort of stew with soon dae as the main ingredient, as well as intestines. They both found this surprisingly not spicy. Initially, they were both disappointed with the amount of soon dae and liver in the soup, but by the time they were finished, they decided that it was actually a sufficient amount. Besides the soon dae, there were also plenty of bean sprouts, which we thought was an odd choice, considering that the soon dae gook we usually have in Seoul is served without. I enjoyed the broth though, as it was quite peppery and savoury.
My mom wasn’t in the mood for any soon dae and decided on the Seafood Kal Gook Soo. “Kal” means “knife” in Korean, while “gook soo” means noodles–literally, noodles cut with a knife. My mom likes these noodles to begin with, but the addition of sesame seeds made the broth exceptionally good. The seafood mainly consisted of shrimp, squid, and mussels. The broth was savoury and quite mild. Although it isn’t their specialty, my mom still felt this was a great take on a classic Korean dish.
As this was our first visit here, we weren’t sure whether the portion size would be enough for us (especially my brother, who’s a big eater). So we ordered an Assorted Soon Dae as well. Turns out this was largely unnecessary as we had to take most of this home. I liked how their soon dae had a very chewy exterior, and that the filling consisted mostly of intestine and meat, as opposed to noodles. The salty dipping sauce and spicy chives helped to add as well as enhance flavour. The price was a little steep, but it’s not often you find such great soon dae in Vancouver, so I’ll gladly pay it.
As a whole, we enjoyed our dinner at South Castle. The service was friendly and attentive. Still, I’m not sure any non-Korean diners would enjoy this place, especially without Korean companions. The menu items are a little difficult to explain, and the staff didn’t speak very fluent English. It also doesn’t serve any typical Korean dishes popularized in Vancouver (seafood pancakes, jap chae, and whatnot). The prices are in line with other Korean restaurants in Vancouver, but their menu is limited, so beware!
South Castle Korean Restaurant
1112 Austin Avenue
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