How many times have you heard that one can find good food in the strangest of places? Sometimes, that can be a gimmick that precedes the food. For example, Save-on-Meats is located in one of the most infamous neighbourhoods in Canada and the fact you can get a good burger for $6.00 makes the place "special". I can't vouch for the rest of the menu there; but you can see how the strangeness of the location almost becomes a draw. Well, I can tell you that this does not apply to Tokachi in Whalley. I'm sure many have driven by this place without even thinking twice about dining there (assuming that you actually travel out to Surrey). Awhile back, I stumbled upon this little gem tucked away in the forgotten part of the GVRD. Sure, the area is still in transition; but give it some time. Watch Whalley transform into a desirable place to live and do business. It's already happening... With that being said, the last time I wanted to revisit Tokachi, there was police tape around the plaza. Something about a shooting...
Besides, a little bit of danger has never been an obstacle before. So when Eternally Late Girl wanted to meet up for eats in Surrey, I suggested Tokachi. It's been awhile since we've seen ELG ever since she moved to Edmonton. Her nickname is very appropriate because we once waited for her at the Commercial Skytrain station for 1.5 hours. Better yet, Marshmallow waited 3 hours in the snow once at a bustop for ELG. Someone needs to buy her a watch with a shock device... Anyways, to show how much confidence I had in the area, I brought my whole family out including my hockey gear in the car (had a game after). Joining us was Sexy Nurse and Postman who decided to share items with myself and Viv. We started out with the Assorted Sashimi which included 3 pieces of salmon and tuna, 2 pieces of hamachi, tai, hokkagai and red tuna with one ebi. As evidenced in the picture, the fish had a nice sheen and were sliced in well-proportioned pieces. It was both visually and texturally appealing. This was good quality fish that was also prepared properly.
Next we had the Deep Fried Roll which consisted of salmon, snapper, scallop and avocado fried with tempura batter. For the price, this was a substantial roll which was done very nicely. The salmon was still moist and since the rice was "protected" by the salmon, it remained chewy. Usually, with a fried roll, the rice becomes quite soft otherwise. Furthermore, there was just enough crispy tempura batter to coat the roll; rather than overwhelming it. We also ordered 2 regular maki rolls - Spicy Chopped Scallop and House Roll. The SCS was pretty standard with chopped scallop, mayo and tobiko. It really wasn't all that spicy though (and it normally isn't). As you can clearly see in the picture, the roll had plenty of large scallop pieces which were fresh. As for the House Roll, the name was kind of deceiving. We envisioned something bigger. Instead it was merely a roll consisting of steamed ebi with cucumber and radish sprout with smoked salmon on the outside. It was very modest looking. However, the roll itself was very good. The ebi had the perfect bounce texture which contrasted the soft ingredients quite well. The smoked salmon didn't overwhelm the roll either.
For myself, the best dish of all was surprisingly the Tonkatsu. The 2 pork cutlets were fried perfectly with a crispy, non-oily exterior. On the inside, the pork was moist and juicy. The relatively thick pork cutlets were meaty while not being too heavy. Continuing with the deep-fried items, we also got the Assorted Tempura. Again for the price ($9.95), it was a large plate of food. Just like the others, this was a well-prepared dish. All the veggies were still intact while cooked. The tempura batter was crisp and light (despite its appearance). I particularly liked the fried piece of fish, it was super moist and flaky. Continuing on with even more fried items, we next had the Chicken Karaage. Arriving as whole wings without the tip, these were juicy (by not cutting them up probably helped them keep moist). Definitely the right amount of seasoning where it was just salty enough. I liked the fact that there was not a huge amount of starch on the outside. The skin was crisp while not being overly heavy.
If that wasn't enough fried items, Postman added an order of Agedashi Tofu as well. I guess there goes the "Japanese food is healthier" mantra due to our menu selections... Although the tofu had a nice texture and consistency, it probably could've used a bit more frying since it the exterior wasn't that crisp (and that's accounting for the top pieces not soaked in the dashi sauce). For the kiddies, we got them an order of the Chicken Udon . It arrived pretty plain looking, which is exactly how we like it. For me at least, I am not really looking for the versions out there that are filled with napa cabbage, carrots, onions and whatever else they can find in the fridge. Just gimme a nice tasting broth and perfectly cooked noodles, which was the case. The broth was not salty and in fact, a bit on the light side. Despite this, there was still an underlying depth to it. The only thing I didn't like about the udon was the chicken, it was a tad dry.
At this point we still had a bit of room in our tummies and did a second round of food. We ended up with the Gyozas. Right from the get go, these probably needed just a touch more time on the grill. The colour and texture of the bottom was just a bit off. Looking past that, the gyoza wrapper was thin and nicely textured. The filling was equally good with non-gritty meat which was seasoned properly. For our last dish, we weren't very creative. It was partly due to the simple menu since there are not a whole lot of choices. However, the biggest reason would be *gasp*, we like California Rolls... That's right, although we like variety and some of the more exotic stuff, there is nothing inherently wrong with a Cali Roll. And this one was done right with plenty of ripe avocado and shredded imitation crab meat that wasn't too heavy on the mayo. So there you have it. A successful revisit of Tokachi where I got to try more of their dishes. Of course it wasn't perfect, but considering where it is located, the quality and execution was solid. I wouldn't hesitate to return for another visit down the road.
- Food is prepared right
- Japanese sushi chef, if that matters to you
- Friendly staff
- Friendly staff, but not enough of them
- Can get pricey