Kura Japanese

Here’s a question we’ve debated a little bit around the office: Does it matter if the owners and staff of a restaurant are from the same country as the food they serve? The short answer, it seems is, yes. Some would say there’s good food too be had in ”non-authentic” restaurants. That is very true. Plus the food in those places is usually cheaper, making them even more attractive. The common denominator always ends up being quantity over quality. When it comes to Japanese restaurants, the majority (at least in the Burnaby-New West area) aren’t ”authentic”. One exception is Kura Japanese.

Kura has probably the most unique façades for a Burnaby restaurant. The front door is a stunning piece of work. Ornate wrought iron overlayed on thick, ancient-looking hardwood with metal rings as doorhandles…a solid piece of craftsmanship. I’m quite curious where this door originated from…it looks to have had some history.

Another intriguing aspect is the thick slab of wood overhead. Translation? Anyone?

Judging from the entryway and from what I had heard about Kura, I had a very good feeling about this spot.

The Beef Sashimi was damn near perfect. Perfectly marinated, expertly sliced, well-marbled and loaded with flavour. The beef, a degree or five above freezing was extremely tender yet had a good amount of chewiness. The tart, lemony dip is an excellent counterpoint to the meatiness of the sashimi.

Mirugai Garlic Butter (Geoduck). Geoduck is basically a really big, expensive, nasty-looking, freakishly-large clam. It’s much prized throughout Asia. Being harvested only here in B.C. and Washington State, it can fetch around $30 a pound in Japan. This dish has about six bite-size pieces smothered in sauteed onion and garlic butter…a little smallish considering the price ($8). To me this is a case of a good product overwhelmed with too much ingredient. The garlic butter and scallions would of been ample.

For sushi we went with two of Kura’s special rolls.

The Rainbow Roll and Kyoto Roll were both exceptionally fresh and well-made. The emphasis is on freshness throughout. Two superior rolls made with very good product. The only downside was the mess of wasabi mayo strewn around the Rainbow Roll. If that much effort, care and attention goes into the roll, at least finish it cleanly.

The Kyoto Roll was a big highlight here. Savory BBQ eel and creamy avocado with the light, salty crunch of tobiko around a crunchier tempura prawn and cucumber center drizzled with sweet soy. This is something I will order every time I come back.

Aside from a couple of minor glitches, the food we had at Kura was exceedingly flavourful and very, very fresh. That, it seems, is the biggest difference between ”authentic” and ”non-authentic” Japanese restaurants. In the end, you only wind up spending a buck or so more a dish for a vastly superior product.

Kura Japanese on Urbanspoon


9 responses

  1. Ben

    Nice review, Karl. I have not even began to write about Kura yet and am tempted to just cut and paste yours to my post. LOL! See you this afternoon for lunch again.

    February 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    • Karl

      Thanks, Ben! No cheating! I’m on my way!

      February 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm

  2. That character says KURA on that wooden name plate. So exactly as you would know it in English. The character itself is used in words associated with Japanese construction, often tied to buildings that store things (often at cooler temperatures) or more specifically to places that are used to store liquor. Speaking of which, did you note any good/extensive Japanese liquor listing in their menu?

    February 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    • Karl

      Hello Shokutsu, thanks for the info…it’s much appreciated. As for the liquor menu, we didn’t even think of it as this was lunch-time (damn rules). Oh, well. It’s a great excuse to go for an evening visit.

      February 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      • Thanks, any added details are appreciated! 🙂

        February 23, 2010 at 6:43 am

  3. There are at least two other Japanese restaurants in the Burnaby/New West are that I can think of; however, how good or bad is sort of a question mark. There is Hi Genki in the Japanese Nikkei Centre, which is more of a dinning hall for the elders in the area. In the New West side, there is (was?) Rikka Japanese Kitchen. I was there over a year ago and haven’t been back so can’t say if it is still there.

    February 22, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    • Its funny, while out venturing to NW on the Skytrain, I passed by this place just as I saw a man unlock the door for business that day. So it is indeed still open!

      February 23, 2010 at 6:44 am

      • Karl

        Wow. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been to that part of town. That was a dirty pizza joint last time I checked! Thanks for the tip, Kim! Way to keep an eye out, Shokutsu!

        Another “authentic” one is Sushi Paradise at Princess & 8th Street.

        February 23, 2010 at 7:05 am

  4. Pingback: Chow Times » Kura Japanese Restaurant on Kingsway and Wilson Ave, Burnaby

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