For me, the Urbanspoon top-100 restaurants list is more about popularity than good food. Sure, there are legitimately great places included in that list; but more often than not, most of them are not there due to great food. Yet, I have to admit that it is at the very least, a starting point for someone who is unfamiliar with the culinary scene in Vancouver. With that being said, the best places to eat are still the ones that locals go to. This leads into one of the newer members of the top-100 list - Yamato Sushi. Seemingly out of nowhere, Yamato is nearly in the top-50. That piqued my interest and only a visit would give me a clearly picture of the place. Meeting up with Vandelay for lunch, we were lucky to get a table in this extremely small hole-in-the-wall on Davie Street. For those who care, this place is Chinese-run. Vandelay and I are of the opinion that the food does the talking, not the perceived people who make it.
We started with the Assorted Sashimi consisting of Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, tuna, tai, mackerel and hokkigai. At first, I thought the presentation looked a little flat and upon further inspection, it was. As you can clearly see, it is missing the daikon underneath. No matter really, just an observation. We thought the sashimi as a whole was more than acceptable. Aesthetically, texturally and taste-wise, there was nothing amiss. Next up, we had the Assorted Tempura consisting of ebi, sweet potato, zucchini and carrot. I thought the liberal use of tempura batter would've affected the final product; but in the end, it was crispy and light. We particularly liked the ebi since they were large, cold-water crunchy and sweet.
After that, we had 2 rolls starting with the Yamato Roll consisting of avocado, tamago, cucumber and unagi on the inside with avocado, tobiko and sesame seeds on the outside. The roll was finished off with a drizzle of sweet mayo and teriyaki sauce. I thought the sushi rice was a bit dense-like in texture; yet still acceptable. I would've liked more flavour as well. As for the roll itself, it was fine. It was on the softer side due to all the mushy ingredients. With that being said, it had a good rice to ingredients ratio. I didn't need to dip it into soy sauce/wasabi since it had enough flavour on its own. We were planning on only getting one roll; but when Vandelay spotted the Spider Roll for only $5.95, we had to get it. Normally, a soft-shell crab roll is easily pushing $10.00. Despite the price, the roll was stuffed full of a large fried soft-shell crab. It was fried perfectly with a light crisp exterior while still being fluffy soft inside. The dense rice was somewhat of an annoyance; but there was plenty of crab to offset it.
Now as if this wasn't enough food for use, we also got the Chicken Yakisoba. Arriving on a sizzling hot plate, this was a pretty large portion for the price. I found the noodles in need of a bit more flavour. It would've been nice to have some pickled ginger on top for some zing. There was plenty of chicken though. However, the one thing that was the downfall of this dish was the ample use of oil. I found it greasy. Lastly, we had the Oyako-Don which was an extremely substantial portion for $5.95. It wasn't a typical oyako don; but it was chock full of chicken, egg and evenly sauced rice. I did find the rice to be rather soft though. Despite that, it was an enjoyable and satisfying interpretation of an oyako don. So as you can clearly see, the draw here is mainly value and above-average food. Sure, it isn't an "authentic" Japanese restaurant per se; but really, how many are in Vancouver? If one was looking for decent eats with good prices and large portions, Yamato does that job well. Yah, the place is small and it's best not to linger too long. As we ate, we noticed many people getting take-out. I'm pretty sure Yamato is not a top-50 restaurant in terms of the best places to eat in Vancouver; yet it is definitely a good option for those who are not picky.
- Large portions
- Above average "Japanese" food
- Not a place to hang out for long, small and cramped
- May upset the authenticity police