Sherman's Food Adventures: Yamato Sushi

Yamato Sushi

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.

The Good:
- Inexpensive
- Large portions
- Above average "Japanese" food

The Bad:
- Not a place to hang out for long, small and cramped
- May upset the authenticity police

Yamato Sushi on Urbanspoon


YRS said...

"For me [Sherman], the Urbanspoon top-100 restaurants list is more about popularity than good food."

I agree, and if you follow this logic, then the same is true for blog top-rankings. The top ranked blogs with Urbanspoon are all about popularity (quantity of posts) and little or nothing about the quality of review writing. Not saying you have a bad blog, just stating what seems the obvious. It's possible to have a brilliantly written blog and be ranked 1 or 1001 - its brilliance has no footing in rank. He or she with the most reviews wins. Take any kind of online ranking system with a grain of salt. McDonald's boasts a trillion served! Does that mean it's producing top shelf cuisine?

Case in point, over here in Victoria Urbanspoon land there aren't many hardcore food bloggers, maybe 3 or 4. But the #2 ranked blog here is one called Lunch in Victoria. If you read it, it is a steady stream of boring, thumbnail blurbs about banal lunch visits. Last year, he amassed 120 posts is a relatively short period of time and shot up to #1 as a result. And here's were it gets funny. He quite writing his blog in early January of this year, and there hasn't been any life on it since, but he continued to be ranked #1 for 5 months after dormancy! He is still, more than half a year after dormancy, ranked #2. Is this misleading to readers? Yer damn right it is!

Ranking systems online are all about popularity contests. I wonder what the food blog rankings would look like if a panel of peers and fellow critics and chefs judged which was best. Methinks the rankings would look remarkably different.

Where the popularity races are of benefit to a blogger is in generating blog traffic via the illusory idea that #1 = best. This is good because more traffic means more ad revenue.

As for Yamato, I have noted this for my next visit to the mainland.

YRS (currently ranked #3 in Victoria, but place almost no meritorious value on that ranking)

Sherman Chan said...

@YRS Totally agree with you. There are many more better blogs than mine that are well-written and more knowledgeable. In fact, the Urbanspoon rankings are only based on hits on Urbanspoon which is not representative at all of reality. For me, I love food and the blog is my passion. I hope to continue it as long as it is feasible. It's a lot of work! Keep up the good work on your end!

Anonymous said...


There's a good read about urbanspoon blogger ranking system here.

There are more than a few bloggers on Vancouver's list that I absolutely go "wtf" when I read them. Out of the top 35, I consider 15 of them enjoyable to read along with being knowledgeable, just over 50%.. so yea. You go down the list and figure it out ;)

It's a crowded market here for sure, but in the end there will always be a separation between the good and the bad.

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