Sushi

Sushimoto

Right next to the Holdom Skytrain Station in central Burnaby, is a comfortable, friendly, slightly surreal sushi joint called Sushimoto. It’s a somewhat sleek and very unique venue.

Aside from the great fare, the room is full of interesting knick-knacks. Some traditional Japanese, some quirky eye candy. There’s the requisite paper lanterns but there’s also a cool collection of action figures.

The detail on Tony Montana is freaking eerie…right down to the five o’clock shadow!

I’ve been meaning to hit this place up for quite awhile. Since I first saw their vibrant menu and then read the continuing stream of positive commentary, it was obvious that this was a spot to go to for stellar eats.

Sushimoto offers up some pretty decent lunch specials. One of them is the Maki Roll, Miso Soup, Sunomono Combo. For $9.99 you choose from one of eight specialty rolls and your choice of Vegetable, Tako or Ebi Sunomono.

Quite a substantial sunomono. Nearly double the size I’ve become accustomed to in a combo setting. Clean, cool and very fresh.

The Red Hot Chili Roll really hit the mark. Great sushi rice to start…perfectly cooked and seasoned. A nice, creamy scallop filling topped with spicy tuna and drizzled with spicy sauce & mayo. It has a bit of zip…no serious heat factor, though.

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Okonomi Sushi

The latest addition to New Westminster’s growing Asian restaurant scene is Okonomi Sushi on Sixth St. They recently took over the spot that The Orange Room previously occupied. Okonomi has another location in New West down on Fourth St. I was a bit surprised to see a second one open so close. Then again, this stretch of Sixth St. is in definite need of quality Japanese.

Sherman and I arrived on a Monday at noon to a warm and inviting yet deserted room. Knowing we’d be eating large, we grabbed a four-top for extra room. Our very friendly server presented us with one of the heftiest menus I’ve come across.

Weighing in at around two pounds (at least it felt like that!) this menu is absolutely loaded with options, 199 to be exact. To get a good sense of the fare, we opted for the Okonamiyaki & Tempura combo as well as the Special Assorted Combo A.

As the main parts of our meals were being prepared, we were peppered with an assortment of appies and sides.

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Gohan Japanese

I still remember my very first sushi experience. About fifteen years ago some friends invited me out to Yakko Sushi in Station Square. We had some, as we know it now, basic fare…miso, tempura, California rolls. It was a wonderful, eye-opening foray into Asian food…something besides Combo B at the Dragon Fort.

Here is a fascinating insight into Vancouver Japanese restaurants circa 1998.

Nowadays, we’ve got a great selection of sushi joints all over town. One of the better ones, it turns out, is Gohan West Coast Japanese Restaurant.

I’m lucky to have an in-house Japanese food advisor. When it comes to seeking out the best of the best, The Gut, aka, Louie Louie, knows his Japanese fare. He’d mentioned Gohan a couple of months ago and this past Friday I gathered the troops.

Seeing an “older” hand at the reins is a promising sign…this man knows his stuff.

To start, we ordered from the “Original Seafood” section of the menu.

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Kimura

A little while ago we were sitting around the office thinking about lunch. Well, at least, I was thinking about lunch. Someone’s got to start the ball rolling, after all. I had suggested sushi. Not just regular, everyday sushi…some of the good stuff. That was when ‘The Gut’ suggested Kimura, a place he and his wife recently discovered. Now, understand, when ‘The Gut’ recommends a sushi restaurant, I immediately take notice. He is someone who takes his food seriously and understands the finer points of Japanese cuisine. Those nuances are something I am sorely lacking and will take any opportunity to refine my knowledge of.

After a quick bit of study, it became very apparent that this was a must-visit. A quick glance at their webpage and a very well written post by Keev at TimeToChow made a visit imperative.

Having owned and operated many restaurants from the U.S. to Mexico to Shanghai, Chef Itsuroku Kimura has decided to settle here and make this his “retirement” restaurant. His love of jazz is apparent. Not just in the music playing, but also in the record sleeves on display and the cloaked double bass behind his station.

Along with the jazz vibe, cool artworks and unique interior, is the exceptional quality of food. Kimura strives to use only the best and freshest of ingredients.

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Tomoya Japanese

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of joining Ben from Chowtimes for lunch at Kura in Burnaby. It was a unique experience in that I’m still somewhat unfamiliar with uncommon Japanese cuisine. A simple suggestion to deviate from the mundane, everyday fare was all it took. A light kick in the pants is all I need when it comes to discovering great food.

As a follow-up to Kura, Ben suggested Tomoya Japanese on Nelson. Another foodie friend told me Tomoya was a top pick in Burnaby. This place is starting to look better and better.

The complimentary Miso Soup…a great way to get the gustatory juices flowing.

As per Ben’s suggestion of trying out unfamiliar items, I chose the Takoyaki. They are basically doughy balls of seafood, fried and smothered in, what seems like, Italian dressing. Somewhat tasty but not a big hit. On the other hand, this next dish is phenomenal.

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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.

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Kingsway Sushi

There’s something slightly different when a group of folk gather for all-you-can-eat. For some at the table, it’s a challenge to see if you can put back twelve bucks worth of food. Most often you’ll pay for a dish, sight unseen and pay what the menu says. With AYCE, one is given the opportunity to try and gorge himself in the hope of getting ultimate value in his meal. It’s a no-win situation. Even if you succeed in stuffing yourself silly with said amount of mediocre food, you’ll inevitably wind up regretting it. The slow and steady approach is obviously the best. Right now, I’m about midway between the smart, slow method and the “Load the table, let’s eat!” tact.

After several visits to Kingsway Sushi, I’ve come to realize “more isn’t good”. It’s best to figure out and order the better menu items than to haphazardly order everything off the list. In this case, the majority of the menu is fairly decent.

Kingsway Sushi is one of a handful of Chinese-owned Japanese AYCE restaurants in the Burnaby-New West area. None of them are exceptional, but this spot offers up quite a few tasty options.

This is also one of the most efficient AYCE places around. The servers, armed with PDA’s, send your order to the kitchen. The pre-made appetizers arrive in the blink of an eye.

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