Here I am again at another all-u-can-stuff-your-face-with-mediocre-food joint. Hey, I'm not dissing it. There are times when and AYCE serves a purpose. Of course, the obvious is that you have a group of hungry people (even better if they're teenagers). Better yet, how about a hungry group of people who are not overly concerned with food quality. The reason we made our way to the Downtown location of Shabusen was out of convenience. What? Downtown? Convenient??? Okay, let me explain. Marshmallow made her annual summer pilgrimage back to Vancouver and she was wanting to meet up with a bunch of us for dinner. Since the party size would be at least 10 and it had to be Japanese, that didn't leave a whole lot of options in terms of restaurants. Of course we are using the term Japanese quite loosely here if we are talking about Shabusen. Furthermore, we are even being more lenient when we add in the Korean BBQ aspect. Sure, we could go to a "real" Japanese restaurant. However, most of those are quite small; thus not satisfying our needs. Naturally, AYCE generally doesn't satisfy any type of quality needs either; but we were expecting that.
We've been to the Granville location on several occasions. I find that location to be more spacious and easier to find parking. With that being said, I easily found parking this time. It's probably due to the fact it costs $2.00 for 40 mins! Turns out everyone else took skytrain or walked it. Maybe I should park the SUV next time... So the one thing about AYCE is the variety of food and how fast it comes out. Now imagine me trying to keep up with the photos. Let's just say I didn't eat until halfway through the meal. So we started with the obligatory appies such as Gomae, Sunomono Salad, Green Salad and Agedashi Tofu. Surprisingly, the gomae was decent. Not completely doused with sweet sesame, it was better than most AYCE joints. The salads were alright while the tofu was boring. Not much sauce, very plain, meh. The Kimchi was okay, probably needed to be spicier while the Pickled Daikon was crisp and vinegary. Japchae was served cold, tasted alright and texturally sound, I just prefer it hot. As for the Korean BBQ, it is pretty laughable. In no way does it taste or look like it is supposed to. But then again, in this AYCE setting, I guess we accept it for what it is.
Another surprise was the Sashimi. This time around it was decent, especially the salmon. There have been times where the sashimi has not been good. I guess we were lucky. Although the tuna could've been better. It was bland and essentially mush. As for the standard AYCE items, the Fried Gyozas were not good. Dry and chewy, it was probably fried too long. Furthermore, the dumplings began to split apart and as a result, the filling was oil-logged. Bleck. The pan-fried Gyozas were not very hot and despite the nice colour on the botton, not too crispy either. I didn't like the gummy dumpling wrapper nor the mealy filling either. The Chicken Karaage was not too bad. The meat was moist and seasoned. Exterior was crisp and not too oily. Somewhat of a rarity these days, the Oyster Motoyaki was served in a shell. Nothing out-of-the ordinary with it really. Oyster was alright (not mushy, not fishy) and the sauce was typically mayonnaisey.
Now to try the sushi rice... We got some various Nigiri. And well, not to sound anti-climactic; but the sushi rice was subpar. Dry and slightly hard, it was edging closer to regular rice than sushi rice. Moreover, it was bland and in desperate need of vinegar. At the very least, the unagi, tako, hokkigai and salmon were okay and with lowered expectations, it was edible. Same can be said for the Cones and Sushi Rolls. Keeping in mind the limitations of the rice, one can only expect so much from the sushi. Thus, it was pretty average at best. Due to the high turnover, the ingredients were okay. I know I'm stating the obvious here. AYCE is never the best way to enjoy any type of food really. With that being said, there are good and bad within the genre as well. Shabusen is somewhere in the middle where their one selling point is the combination of "Korean" BBQ and Japanese food.
- Okay pricing
- If you are looking for authenticity...
- Service is so-so