It is Summer right? So what's with the rain and cold weather??? When has Summer become a 3-week season in Vancouver? Well, that was the case the day of our Monday softball game. It was raining all day with no signs of letting up. Was there going to be a game or not? Apparently yes. For myself, it was a bit iffy anyways due to my concussion. I tried playing one inning and the running did me in. My headache returned and hence, I had to shut it down. That really sucks. No hockey and now no softball. Well, at the very least, there was food afterwards. Due to Fall in July, we took advantage and decided to hot pot it. Once again, our close proximity to Richmond (we played at Oak Park), we headed over to Toyotomi. I must note that the place isn't the most obvious location for a restaurant as it is on the bottom floor of an apartment complex. Whatever the case, they have free parking and the price of their AYCE hot pot is only $14.99.
Their AYCE menu needed a bit of deciphering as it had grey-out sections which only apply if we paid a $6.00 surcharge. Therefore, it really depends on what one wants which would ultimately determine the bottom line. Moreover, the menu is an eclectic mix of unrelated food as well. There were the usual hot pot items, yet there were things like Chicken Nuggets, Fries and Onion Rings as well. Good for the kiddies I suppose??? These were pretty standard stuff that looked like frozen Costco products (which is not necessarily a bad thing for this type of restaurant). Wait, there was more fried goodness in the form of Fried Tofu and Fried Mochi. The fried tofu had a weird texture akin to fish cake while the fried mochi wasn't bad. It was not too dense and only semi-sweet. The strange combination of offerings continued with the Beef Tataki. Despite the large slices of meat, they were tender and bathed in a balanced sweet, tart and salty dressing.
Since we were there after 9:00pm, we were afforded the opportunity to have 2 pieces of sashimi per person (which totaled 16 pieces). We went for the Spicy Tuna and Salmon Sashimi which arrived in a scallop shell on ice. It was nice to see that they practiced food safe here as the ice kept cool things cold (including the hot pot items). As for the fish, it was pretty standard with nothing amiss. Now the spicy sauce was another story. It was some thick, syrupy concoction which was not spicy at all. Not sure what it was, but the more suitable name would be sweet sticky sashimi. As mentioned, the Hot Pot Ingredients were put on ice. It actually all arrived in a large oyster shell-shaped plate. There was a mix of fish cake, dumplings, frozen tofu, fish balls, pork intestines, wood ear mushrooms, fresh ramen, instant noodle, soba, rice cake, tripe, wood ear mushroom, edamame, sui choy and watercress. Nothing seemed amiss and everything did what it was supposed to. Due to the low price of the hot pot at Toyotomi, they could be excused for not having freshly made meatballs nor dumplings.
We had 4 choices of meat which we promptly ordered. It arrived on one plate with the Lean Beef in the front, Chicken to the right, Fatty Beef on the top and Vegetarian Pork in the back. As you can tell, the fatty beef was well-marbled. If you don't like beef fat, don't order this. However, when boiled, it was buttery and tender. The lean beef was predictably less tender and more dry. The chicken had a good amount of fat which kept it moist (not to mention it was dark meat too). The vegetarian pork was well, vegetarian pork. Enough said. For our choice of broth, we decided to go for half and half of the Japanese Pork Bone Soup and the Spicy Broth. The pork bone soup was exactly that with a large bone peeking out from the boiling liquid. It was mild. The spicy broth lived up to its namesake with a considerable kick while not destroying our tastebuds either.
Hey, this was a pretty decent hot pot for the money. There were no real surprises, other than the weird mix of food, and we were all satisfied at the end. There are very few places that have such a low starting price for AYCE, so Toytomi represents value, not necessarily outstanding eats. The one thing that really impressed us was the attentive service. They were always checking on us and even gave the kiddies at the table a complimentary box of Pocky each. Hey when someone gives you free Pocky, it's a good day.
- Attentive service
- Clean washrooms
- Pretty standard AYCE stuff, don't have too high expectations