L and his colleagues ordered sushi for their Zoom work dinner. L picked Sushi In – a newish Japanese restaurant in our hood – for his takeout. For this post, let’s listen to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles.
I saw on Google that Sushi Inn has only favourable reviews. That took me by surprise because no matter how good a restaurant is, there will always be awful customers. Sometimes I’ll read a review on Yelp and think to myself that I hope I never have interact with such a wretched human being.
L ordered two of Salmon Nigiri ($2.5), Tuna ($2.5), Tako ($3), Hokky Gai ($2.5), and one Ebi ($2.5) and Red Tuna ($3.5). The ratio of fish to rice was more than double. The rice itself was a little hard and colder than he would have preferred.
I ordered the Chirashi ($24). I noticed the amount of seafood in my bowl was generous. I counted three pieces of salmon, tuna, and sockeye salmon. I also received chopped scallop and two pieces of tamago. The tuna had a strong flavour to it.
The sushi reminds me a little of Red Ember in that you get more fish than rice. The prices at Sushi Inn are more than the nearby E-Mart but the quality is better. At E-Mart, the only prepared food I enjoy is the kimbap and fish cakes.
If I order again, I would try the cooked dishes like the chicken nanban and katsudon. When I went to pick up our food, I immediately noticed the appetizing smell of tempura hung heavily in the air.
On Saturday, L and I met up with Grohl and Flower Child for dinner. Grohl wanted Chinese food but Flower Child insisted we have sushi. I was relieved. Grohl lived in China for a period and ever since, he’s been trying to relive his culinary experiences. He doesn’t listen to my recommendations and orders what he remembers from his travels, then complains the food is terrible and not at all like it was in China. I told L we had to pick a restaurant that Grohl couldn’t find fault with. My reputation was at stake. We decided on Sukiyaki House because we knew head chef Koji Kobayshi and sous chef Yuki Koyama’s culinary creativity would impress our friends. For this post, let’s listen to “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis.
This post won’t list the prices as Grohl and Flower Child treated us out. As well, I won’t describe the assorted tempura, agadashi tofu and nigiri we ate as I’ve written about it extensively in past posts.
When I saw FoodKarma Instagram posts on Koji’s summer creation – the Irodori Hiyashi Udon – I knew I had to try it. This bowl of sea treasures cost around $17, which is fantastic value. Our bowl was filled with generously sized pieces of hamachi, snow crab, scallop, ebi, ikura, shitake, tamago, and shredded seaweed.
The chilled udon noodles were thin and chewy. The cold dashi soy broth was refreshing and light enough that it didn’t mask or take away from the natural sweetness of the seafood. I made use of the side of yuzukosho, which added a spicy kick. This cold seafood udon special is available only for a few more weeks, so come quick before it is too late.
Koji created a stunning plate of tuna and hamachi tataki. I thought the sweet onion ponzu sauce went well with the denser, stronger flavour of hamachi as well as the lighter, softer pieces of tuna. The garnishes of daikon, micro greens and edible flowers tasted as pretty as it looked.
Grohl requested a spicy roll. I asked our server Justin if there was a roll so hot it would burn Grohl’s ass. Justin laughed at my grossness and said Yuki could create something off the menu – the Spicy Aka Oshizushi. The roll was hot but in a restrained way that really worked with the flavor of the red tuna. The topping of micro greens, green onions and crispy shallots added a freshness and crunch factor with each bite.
L said he could taste gochujang spice in the sauce. Justin informed us that there were two other Japanese spices added for extra heat. Grohl raved about how good this roll was and just like that, my reputation was restored. Thanks Yuki.
Grohl ordered a piece of the house made smoked wild eel. Apparently, wild eel has a smokier flavour profile and more texture than regular eel. Justin mentioned the chefs reduce the unagi sauce from the soy cure the eel is boiled in.
Grohl and I ate a piece of Hokkaido sea urchin (uni). He closed his eyes as he ate and exclaimed that the uni tasted like a blast of the ocean. I enjoyed the clean sea flavour and the cool, creamy texture. Justin mentioned Hokkaido uni is much sweeter compared to other sea urchin in Japan and the rest of the world.
We all tried a piece of chu toro. Justin informed us that Koji and Yuki use the fattier cuts of bluefin tuna. This one was a winner! I thought the white and pink hue was particularly pretty and the tuna richly flavoured with a soft, almost buttery texture.
For dessert, we shared the flourless chocolate soufflé with house made green tea ice cream. The souffle was warm and coated my tongue with the taste of dark, rich chocolate. I really liked that the flavour of the matsu kaze tea matcha was so intense.
Thank you Grohl and Flower Child for an epic meal. Hopefully you will have time for us to take you out before you leave. I know a great Korean restaurant for ass burning ‘fire chicken’.
To celebrate my good news, I told L that I was taking him out for dinner at Sukiyaki House. Judith, Justin and Chef Koji Kobayashi must have also been in a celebratory mood because they spoiled us rotten with complimentary bougie treats. For this post, let’s listen to “Wanna Be A Baller” by Lil’ Troy.
Judith treated us to a taste of Masumi, a sparkling sake that is fermented using an ancestral method. The sake tasted like a mellow champagne. When I sipped on this liquid gold, my entire scalp tingled.
Judith also poured us a glass of an exclusive bottle of sake. Jikon is a sought after brand in Japan – there are only 30 stores that carry this sake. She informed us that Kiyashō brewery was going down the drain until his son decided to take sake into a different direction. He wanted to make a better product, so he focused on a smaller batches of sake, paying more attention to koji and rice quality.
Judith added that omachi is one of the oldest rice strains with no cross breeding. This type of rice is extremely hard to grow due to its tall height, which can get damaged easily in the wind. Omachi rice grain is also difficult to brew due to its fat round shape. Brewers prefer to work with a flat grain. The extra effort is worth it because omachi rice creates sakes that are layered, earthy, diversified, and herbal.
As we were enjoying our sake tasting, Chef Koji Kobayashi sent over a stunning plate of red snapper sashimi. His food is art because it appeals to our sight, smell and taste. Sorry Koji, my poor attempt at photography doesn’t do your work justice.
The fish was so buttery soft it melted on my tongue. With each bite, I’d take a piece of snapper, swirl it in the ponzu sauce and then top it off with the micro greens and a flower. I thought I could taste sesame in the little crunchy bits sprinkled on the top.
We ordered the Assorted Tempura ($20) and a pint of the Asahi Draft ($7). Our tempura arrived steaming hot. This is the first time since Japan that I’ve been impressed by the taste and texture of tempura.
Judith instructed us to add the grated ginger and daikon into our tempura sauce. The batter was pale blonde, ultra light and crisp. The tempura tasted clean, not the least bit oily or greasy. Double damn – this was some fine ass tempura.
My favourite pieces of tempura were the kinoko (enoki mushroom) and black tiger shrimp. I enjoyed the process of pulling the delicate enoki legs apart and then dipping it into the sauce.
The shrimp was cooked until it was a pretty pink hue. The shrimp meat was delicately crunchy and sweet. Next time, I want to special order just the shrimp and enoki mushrooms. The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care (Emily Dickinson, 1862).
We ordered a selection of our favourite pieces of nigiri. Aka Maguro ($4.20); Hotategai ($4.20); Amaebi ($4), Ebi ($3); Kani ($3.70); Maguro ($3); Shake Atlantic ($3); and Sockeye ($3.50). Always having the same sushi chefs at the helm means that we can expect the same consistency when we dine at Sukiyaki House. Yet again, the sushi rice was perfectly cooked and seasoned. This is important to me, as personally, I think the rice is just as important as the fish.
I preferred the firmer texture and richer flavour of the sockeye salmon over Atlantic salmon. Compared to the sockeye, the Atlantic tasted milder and fattier. The cooked shrimp was excellent, with its trademark crunchy texture and sweet flavour. Unlike other Japanese restaurants, the ebi at Sukiyaki House actually has flavour.
The regular maguro (tuna) was smooth and tasty, but the fatty, satiny Aka Maguro (bluefin fatty tuna) was mind blowing. Spend the extra dollar and get the blue fin tuna! Best buck you’ll ever spend. L enjoyed it so much he wanted to get a second piece.
I love the way the sushi chef prepares the hotategai. The scallop is sliced so that all the silky crevices glide all over your tongue. Sensational! I don’t know any other sushi restaurant that does this.
L’s colleague Dallas recently told him that he dined out at a fancy Japanese influenced restaurant. One of the dishes was a $12 slice of raw fish. Dallas said he wished the server told him why this piece of fish was so special to warrant the price tag, because as someone who doesn’t know much about sushi, he wanted to know what he was eating. L wants to bring Dallas and his wife to Sukiyaki House to get an understanding of the high standard used in excellent Japanese cuisine. At Sukiyaki House, not only do you get Koji – who is trained in Japanese fine dining and Yuki – a sushi artist, but you also get educated by servers whose knowledge of saki and food enhances the experience by giving you a deeper appreciation of the food and drink you are consuming.
I booked L’s birthday dinner at Sushi Hachi Japanese Restaurant. Run by a husband and wife team, Sushi Hachi is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Reservations are required, as the small restaurant is perpetually booked.
I invited N and Beep Beep to L’s dinner. N asked if she could bring her new gentleman friend A-OK. When I spoke to the owner to request an extra seat, I confided to the owner that I was excited to dine at his restaurant. He sounded pleased, but cautiously mentioned that he only serves sushi and sashimi. There is no teriyaki or tempura on the menu. I told him that was fine with me, as I’ve been to Japan before and I’m aware of the difference between real sushi and the North American version. He sounded worried and humbly stated that he didn’t want to get my my hopes up, as his sushi is not as good as what you can get in Japan. For this post, let’s listen to “Saw You in a Dream” by The Japanese House.
When we were seated, L commented that he knew Sushi Hachi was a good restaurant based on the tantalizing smells wafting from the kitchen and sushi bar. Unfortunately, the description of the food we ate won’t be as detailed as I would have preferred. Beep Beep and I were too busy sizing up A-OK. I usually hate the guys N dates, but A-OK was a refreshing break from the norm.
A-OK and I shared a bottle of cold sake – Hakutsuru Nigori ($17). The flavour was floral, lush and milky in texture. L, Beep Beep and N refrained from drinking alcohol. Beep Beep was driving. L wanted a good sleep. N just came back from her second ayahuasca trip in Peru. Her shaman said she could eat seafood again, but not alcohol, meat or soy sauce. I asked A-OK if the next time, he could slip the shaman an extra twenty bucks so N could eat meat again.
The Miso Soup ($2) was subtly different from the norm. I read in other reviews that the female owner makes her fish miso in small batches. Each bowl contained a collarbone.
I ordered four Chef’s Special ($120) – a selection of ten pieces of nigiri and tuna maki. We were given a description of each fish, but I didn’t have time to write any of the names of the fish down.
The balance of vinegar and sugar in the rice was perfect. The temperature of the rice was neither cool or warm. I noticed the rice was a bit softer than I’m used to. L and I liked the proportion of fish to rice.
My favourite piece was the bright white glossy piece – it was both crunchy and creamy. The simplicity of garnishes on the nigiri still let the freshness of the seafood shine through.
The scallops were tender and sweet. My favourite version was the chopped scallop. There’s just something so winning about the combination of delicate scallops and the rich egg flavor of velvety Kewpie mayonnaise.
I enjoyed crunching into the raw prawn ($3.50). Cold, sweet and with a texture that was both gooey and crunchy. The uni ($4.00) was the most buttery and briniest I’ve ever had. I’d order this again. L ordered an extra piece of his favourite sushi – tako ($2.50).
L noted he’s never tried so many pieces of white fish, each with its own unique flavour. All the seafood tasted pure and clean.
A-OK and N ordered a plate of Toro ($18) and Sockeye Salmon ($14). No comment as we didn’t try any of it.
A-OK also ordered the Grilled Squid ($10.50). The squid was tender and the juices were reminiscent of charcoal. This dish was simple and delicious.
N ordered a Tempura Roll ($6) because she was still hungry. She took one piece and announced she was full. I ate a couple of pieces. The roll was crunchy and warm from the tempura, made even tastier with a generous slathering of mayonnaise.
N mentioned that while she can eat fish, she only wants to eat white fish. She felt that the fish with a pink tinge was closer to meat. I disagreed but didn’t feel the urge to argue with her. I’m not a hot shot shaman.
My favourite part of the night was when L thanked the sushi chef. In Japan, locals go crazy over my husband’s enunciation while I am generally frowned upon for breaking protocol. After L broke out his perfect Japanese, the chef’s expression didn’t change and he simply nodded to L. When I went to thank the sushi chef in English, he beamed and bestowed me with a big grin. Take that L.
Sushi Hachi is a gem. Now that L and I are no longer going on our annual trip to Japan, we can look forward to dining at Sushi Hachi. I’m eager to try more of the adventurous seafood on their sushi menu. Hitting the Sauce gives Sushi Hachi two fat thumbs up.
I had a long week. To improve my mood, L suggested I pick a restaurant for dinner. I remembered Big Catch expanded from its small kiosk inside Market on Macleod into a full service restaurant in the Save-On-Foods shopping plaza (#130-8835 Macleod Tr. SW).
For this post, let’s listen to Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (recomposed by Max Richter). I think this segment suits Big Catch’s food. Also, I find the emotional range of the violin electrifying.
L admired the woodwork across the walls. He wants to create something similar in our new house. When L complimented the interior design, one of the owners – Non – informed us the interior was designed by Tomo Nakahara.
L and I started off with Agedashi Tofu ($6.95) with kalamansi mushroom sauce. L liked how the daikon and sauce remained on the tofu. I enjoyed the crispy, chewy outer layer of the tofu. The brown topping was tasty, made from four types of mushrooms, sake and low sodium soy sauce.
Non recommended the evening’s special appetizer – Chicken Nanban ($8.75). I noticed the chicken wasn’t heavily battered or super crunchy. As a result, I could better taste the marinade. L raved about the dipping sauce, which he thought was refreshing and light, similar to tzatziki sauce.
Non was excited when he talked about the specialty rolls – all of which are Big Catch’s original creation. He recommended the Autumn Haze ($15.95) and the Iron Goddess ($15.95).
The presentation was so alluring, I was drawn into the plate. I marveled at the colours painted and dotted along the rim of the bowl. The placement of the garnishes and flowers on the sushi was stunning. We didn’t even realize that the paint on the bowl was edible until half way through our meal.
Each piece of sushi was bite-sized. I noticed there was no reliance on mayonnaise in any of the rolls. Non confirmed there was only one roll that had mayonnaise – the Passion Sunrise.
L wanted to try the nigiri to see how it compared to their specialty rolls. We ordered a Dynamite Roll ($6.50), two pieces of Atlantic Salmon Nigiri ($2.25), two pieces of Albacore Tuna Nigiri ($2.25) and one piece of Bluefin Toro Nigiri ($4.50).
The Albacore Tuna was soft and delicious. The taste of the tuna really shone through and just melted in my mouth. I thought the Bluefin Toro had a stronger, fishier taste. I was almost sorry to eat each piece, as it took away from the beauty on the plate.
I saw several customers dropping in to pick up platters to go. If you check out their takeout menu, you’ll see that there are specially priced combos and platters. I also noticed Big Catch is vegetarian friendly and even has a new vegan roll coming soon.
Don’t expect to get the volume you would get at an all-you-can-eat sushi joint. Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing. But at Big Catch, the prices are more than reasonable. Our feast come up to $70 and we were both full.
Big Catch is a place for those who appreciate visually gorgeous food in unpretentious digs. L and I can’t wait to return to sample more of the menu. If you are a fan of art and sushi, you need to check out Big Catch. For the full experience, dine in. If you want to eat from the comfort of your house, their takeout is fabulous and well-priced.