Sherman's Food Adventures: Tomokazu


I haven't been frequenting "all-you-can-eat" Japanese for quite awhile. In fact, my last foray was to Fish on Rice in Burnaby and that was a disaster. However, we had a couple of friends visiting from Edmonton and they love Japanese food. We visited them last summer in Edmonton and they wouldn't even let us eat any Japanese food there. They kept saying that we would be bitterly disappointed since we are so used to good Japanese food. To get the best bang for the buck, they had already done AYCE Japanese when they first got here. But, knowing how T-Man loves his AYCE Japanese, we set up a dinner at Tomokazu with some other friends. Hey, let the man get his fill of Japanese before he heads back to Edmonton. I've been to the sister restaurant, Ninkazu in Richmond, and came away pretty impressed for an AYCE joint. Trust me, I've been trying to visit Tomokazu for a while now; but my softball team has been hesitant. Apparently, Bear used to frequent it quite a bit for lunch; but after a suspicious "closure", he hasn't been back. Well, it is Sherman's FOOD ADVENTURES. I might as well be quite adventurous. But at least I brought a whole lot of other people with me just in case!

Tomokazu has a policy which states that children over 3 feet must pay. Personally, I have no problem with that since it makes much more sense than using age as a gauge. If the child is bigger, then logically they should eat more. We had a chuckle when some of the kiddies at our table had to go for a "measurement". Much like the Top Gun Group (Top Gun Sushi, Richmond Sushi and Kingsway Sushi), there is a Regular "Lite" menu ($19.99) and a Deluxe menu ($22.99). Add $1.00 on weekends and holidays. The main difference between the menus is a larger selection of sashimi and sushi in the Deluxe menu. Since most of us are into the raw stuff, we chose the Deluxe menu. I decided to take the reins and do the "order"-taking for the table and mark off the checklist. We marked off quite a bit of food; but as others have remarked, we did not get exactly the amount we ordered. Just like the Government, the kitchen "taxed" us about 40% of our order. No matter really, we just ordered more on the 2nd round of food.

Surprisingly, other than the requisite Miso Soup, Gomae, Green Salad and Sunomono, the first items to arrive was the Sashimi. At other places, such as Fish on Rice, the sashimi arrives last or not at all. Not only did it arrive early, the sashimi was quite fresh and decently presented. The Kaki Pon (raw oysters) arrived at the same time and they were okay; but they weren't really a hot item at our table. Well, T-Man helped us finish them all. I guess he really wants to fill up before he heads back to Edmonton! Now coming fast and furious, both the Nigiri and Roll Sushi arrived. In the picture from top left clockwise, we have Tobiko, "Lobster", "Abalone", Scallop, Tamago, Amaebi, Tuna and then Unagi in the middle. I put lobster and abalone in quotations because the lobster was imitation and the abalone was either canned abalone (thanks Winnie!) or conch. The rolls consisted of California, Futomaki, Dynamite, Softshell Crab and Salmon. Overall, they looked quite appetizing, considering this was an AYCE. Large and not over-ladened with rice, the nigiri and roll sushi were enjoyable to eat.

We originally thought they had forgotten our order of Mirugai (Geoduck) Nigiri, but it arrived on another plate with the "Shark's Fin" sushi. We were impressed with the large, fresh slices of mirugai. Marshmallow practically ate it all by herself and probably another 10 pieces later. Like other AYCE places, the shark's fin is actually bean vermicelli mixed with jellyfish. But, for me personally, I enjoyed eating it. Costanza joked that we should order 50 Prawn Tempura and we did. We actually received less than half of that. The prawn itself was decent in size and cooked perfectly. But the batter was a laid on a tad too thick. Other items that we ordered were the Beef Short Ribs, Beef and Chicken Teriyaki, Chicken Karaage, Agedeshi Tofu, Gyoza, Oyster Motoyaki, Beef Tataki, Mango Pudding and Fruit Gelatin. Most of these items were pretty average. The ribs were "short' on meat and a bit salty while the beef teriyaki resembled more like beef jerky. I did like the karaage, the crispy skin encapsulated tender and well-seasoned chicken meat. However, I didn't like the beef tataki. The slices were a bit thick and it was still a bit frozen when served. It's hard to imagine getting brain freeze from beef; but we did. Surprisingly, the mango pudding was pretty flavourful. It looked like a mix of mango pudding mix and lemon Jello. On the other hand, the gelatin was awfully sweet; but the kids loved it. My daughter had a sugar rush for hours.

At the end of the meal, T-Man fought to pay the bill. Firm with his strength, held him back physically while the rest of the table were yelling at him to stop. The table next to us, who were non-Asian, looked on in confusion. Yes, us Chinese people bring fighting over the bill to another level. Despite Firm wrestling T-Man's credit card away from him, T-Man succeeded in paying with his other credit card. Defeated, we were not happy with him paying the entire $300.00 tab. Thus, after Costanza left, he gave me a call and told us that T-Man's car was parked in the front. Firm was able to attain the keys to T-Man's car and on a washroom break, placed our share of the bill in the cup holder. Upon leaving, T-Woman became suspicious and told T-Man to search the car. That's when we all ran to our cars frantically trying to leave. T-Man was able to find the money and threw it into my car. Viv ran and threw it back into his car; but T-Man grabbed it and threw it back into my car once more. I grabbed it and chucked it into his car and hightailed it back into my car and locked the doors. While I was pulling away, much like Robert Patrick from Terminator 2, T-Man tried to pin it to my windshield wiper, but I pulled away fast almost running him over. While all this was going on, several people on the sidewalk were shocked to see this display of insanity. When we got home, we called Marshmallow immediately and found out that after we had almost turned him into roadkill, he had thrown the money into her car. She told her oldest son to return the favour and the little brat that he is, he gave it to T-Man's daughter, who did not want to relinquish the money! That's one smart girl, she's already got it down pat at such a young age!

Anyways, during the meal, Costanza declared that Tomokazu was one of the better AYCE Japanese he's been to. I would agree with that. Much like Ninkazu, the food is actually acceptable. Personally, I'm not much into AYCE anymore; but it does serve a purpose. Especially with a large group of 16, places like Tomokazu work out well. Add into the fact that the service was both efficient and pleasant within a relatively comfortable environment, Tomokazu is a decent choice when you need to visit an AYCE.

The Good:
- The food was on average pretty decent
- Pretty comfortable dining space
- We actually got the good stuff early on in the meal

The Bad:
- They like to short change you with the quantities
- As with any AYCE, there were some misses

Tomokazu Japanese on Urbanspoon


KimHo said...

Better having "fresh" oysters here than prairie oysters in Alberta????

What you got served looks decent - The question is whether the $25/person is worth it. Not sure if I am looking incorrectly but the conch... Was it really conch? If it is, I hope it had a somewhat sweet taste - If it didn't had that sweet taste, it would be a waste. Same with the geoduck.

Fighting to pay the bill, I hope none of the nearby shops thought there was a fight and called 911! :D

Sherman said...

Yah, I was surprised at the food quality. It was actually all edible, which is saying a lot for AYCE. We all suspected it was conch because it sure didn't look like abalone. In terms of sweet, not sure, it was kinda bland. But it did have a "snap" to it, so it wasn't mushy. The Geoduck was pretty darn good. Very sweet and fresh. Yah, I hope we didn't scare anyone. This was the most extreme we had to fight to pay a bill ever!

justpattiez said...

Wow... that was quite entertaining. That's the same tactic my relatives pull (give the money to the kid). Always works.

What's the dish in your second last picture?

Sherman said...

Yah, we should've given it to the kid earlier. Oh, that dish was the Oyster Motoyaki. Yes, they came in tart tins. Hey, I didn't mind it cuz it's kinda gross reusing oyster shells anyways.

koji said...

stay away from richmond sushi, it's quality is quite hit and miss, but more on the miss side. it's sister restaurant, kingsway sushi has much better quality and service. both are part of the top gun group. i used to go to tomokazu, but their service was a miss too many times in the past

winnie said...

it may be canned abalone. i do find them resemble...

holly said...

Tomokazu and Ninkazu are owned by the same people, hence the similarities in taste.

This is my nephew's favourite AYCE restaurant, while I prefer the one in Richmond because the parking is free.

I don't frequent AYCE often either because I rarely feel like I am able to eat my money's worth, so I much prefer a la carte. However, once in a blue moon I'll get a craving for a sushi pig out.

The AYCE on Kingsway and Boundary is closer to home and their lunch prices are around $10.

Sherman said...

Koji, I'm not a big fan of any of the Top Gun Sushi group personally; but with that being said, I would go if someone asked me to.

Winnie, it's a possibility that it's canned abalone. I'm just going withe the consensus at our table who thought it was conch.

Holly, yup, as mentioned earlier in the post, Ninkazu and Tomokazu are sister restaurants. That's why they are similar. But I do think Ninkazu is a bit better all around. I don't get the value in AYCE anymore either, so I try to avoid it best that I can.

Westernwinter said...

just went there last week for the late night. Id have to say it was the worst AYCe experience ive been to. food quiality is a disaster but service was fast. Even found plastic in my dish. Surprisingly, ninkazu was always decent (except for the very slow service)

Sherman said...

Westerwinter, I believe you. I've been there again since and it wasn't as good. Depends on your luck I suppose... But then again, AYCE is not really a great way to eat anything.