Homesick for Sushi: Sushi Hachi, Ajisai Sushi Bar, Toshi Sushi, Maruwa Sushi, Vancouver
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Though sushi is one of my favourite foods, it’s one that I don’t eat often. I’m going to try and hold off on my craving for sushi while I’m in Paris until I’m back home. Unless I’m starving on a desert island, I’ll never eat sushi from a food court, grocery store, or worst of all, at an all-you-can-eat restaurant (I’ll make an exception if it’s your birthday). Not only is the quality and freshness of the fish important, but it’s essential for the sushi rice to be prepared well too.

It’s important for the rice to be cooked to the right stage, used at the right temperature, and for the flavour to be well balanced (acidity and sweetness). It takes a minimum of 3 years for an apprentice in a good sushi restaurant to perfect the art of making sushi rice. I highly recommend watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi to learn more about the art of sushi making.

The first time I noticed the difference in the quality of sushi rice was at Zen Japanese Restaurant, a small family-run sushi restaurant in Toronto, Canada. Until today, it’s still my favourite sushi restaurant and it was the only place I would go to for sushi when I lived in Toronto. I recommend taking a seat at the sushi bar, ordering the omakase sushi (chef’s choice) and requesting for your sushi to be served piece by piece (instead of all at once) to enjoy it to the fullest. The negitoro roll that they give you at the end of the omakase is the best thing ever. If I had to choose what to have for a last meal, it would be that negitoro roll! And don’t forget to get some ‘mandarin pie’ and very black sesame ice cream (all homemade) for dessert.

But anyways, today’s post is about some of my favourite sushi restaurants in Vancouver. These are all more of your casual, family-run sort of places, not fine dining sushi.

1. Sushi Hachi, located in Richmond, B.C. This would be my favourite sushi restaurant in Vancouver. A small place, seating maybe 25, and run by just husband and wife (you might even catch their kids running around sometimes). Always very fresh sashimi, well prepared, and accompanied by the perfect bite of rice. Make sure to make a reservation a couple days in advance.

This is the chef’s choice (changes daily). You get 10 pieces of nigiri and a roll for $25. I think this is the best choice in terms of selection and value when it comes to ordering omakase (chef’s choice).

2. Ajisai, a popular lunch/dinner place located in Kerrisdale, Vancouver. A lot of selection (especially for appetizers and rolls), consistently good quality though not always the best when it comes to ordering more special fish (i.e. not salmon or tuna).

Uni on yamaimo (grated mountain potato). Though the uni looks absolutely perfect, the taste of the uni was alright. Not the freshest but better than average.

Green salad. And yes, they sprinkle cornflakes on top for some crunch. I thought that was quite cute.

Tofu salad

Fresh oysters

Lunch set

Special nigiri they had that evening, and a natto roll (very good).

3. Toshi Sushi, located in Vancouver. There’s always a line up for dinner so go early! Very good value for it’s quality.

Sushi bar

Seafood tempura appetizer

Chef’s selection nigiri

Extra orders of uni, sockeye, amaebi, and hamachi.

Rainbow roll, B.C. roll, natto roll

4. Maruwa, my place of preference for sushi during lunch in Richmond, B.C. They have good bento box deals during lunch hours; however, if you order nigiri off their menu, it can be a bit pricy for lunch. The only thing I have to complain about this place is that there was one time I ordered the uni nigiri and it was not good. When uni is not good, it’s terrible- the taste of ‘sea’ can be quite strong!

Fresh oysters, always good.

Aji sashimi

Aji, tamago, B.C. roll, uni (not good that day), sockeye salmon, and hamachi.

Well? Let me know what you think. Write me a comment below!