Sherman's Food Adventures: Tokyo John

Tokyo John

Watching my softball team play in the year-end tourney was as excruciating as watching someone parallel park in Richmond. It's because I couldn't be a part of the action, much like the parallel parking job (sometimes I want to get out of my car and just park it for them). However, my sole consolation was getting to eat with them afterwards! Bah. Who cares about the softball anyways? It only serves to delay dinner... Seeing how I had just eaten at U & I Thai for lunch earlier in the day, I had spotted Tokyo John across the street. I've always been intrigued by the place because of its 90% rating on Urbanspoon. Now of course I've already ranted about how the voting system is flawed, but c'mon, that is a pretty high score! So I suggested we head there for eats since the park they were playing at was only blocks away. Well, the experience didn't start off on the right foot as their A/C system was inadequate for the warm day. We were literally sweating sitting at our table. Furthermore, they seemed a bit annoyed at our large group.

We ended up ordering our own things because it would've been hard to share at our long table. Furthermore, one table could not be moved, so Lulu Bomber, Gyoza King, Bam Bam and Pebbles sat apart from us. Now that didn't stop me from going over there to do my thing. Pebbles decided to try their Real Crab Sunomono. She was disappointed that the whole thing was served warm. That was not pleasing in temperature or flavour. Since it was warm, it was sweeter than if it were cold. Too bad since the rest of it wasn't bad. Her next appetizer, which I had in my order as well, was the Prawn Tempura. This was served hot and crisp. It wasn't greasy, but the batter was quite thick. Hence it was pretty crunchy even when found in many of the rolls we had ordered. The ebi itself was nicely textured and of a reasonable size. As expected, Gyoza King ordered the Gyozas and to his dismay, these were not well-executed. First of all, the filling was a bit gritty and loose. Yet worst of all, they were so fried (and look at the picture, they were fried), that the oil began to seep into the centre. Therefore, it was a greasy mess which was not appealing at all. Furthermore, the dipping sauce was missing spice and tang.

I had the good fortune of sitting beside Dark Helmet who consistently and graciously shares his food. So I got to sample the Spinach Gomae which was okay. The spinach was blanched properly where it was tender while still having a bite. The syrupy sweet dressing was kept to a minimum while the roasted sesame seeds added a nutty aromaticness. He also added an order of the Spicy Salmon Sashimi which arrived in a modest portion. I guess we can never expect Sushi Town portions everywhere else right? For some reason or another, the spicy dressing was not very spicy. In fact, it was not very flavourful either. Combined with the bland-tasting salmon, the whole dish was lacking impact. At the very least, we could chew and digest the salmon because the Short Ribs weren't as easy. Bear loves short ribs and can be considered a connoisseur. Well, he was an annoyed Bear as he could barely (sorry for the pun) break down the meat. It was so chewy that he was getting tired eating it.

For myself, I went for something with a little bit of everything in a Deluxe Dinner Bento Box. As seen in the picture, there was Tempura, Wakame, Chicken Teriyaki, 3 pcs California Roll, 3pcs Dynamite Roll, Tuna & Salmon Nigiri and Salmon and Tuna Sashimi. This may have sounded like a lot of food but it really wasn't. It was fairly expensive at $17.95. As mentioned, the tempura wasn't bad except the batter was a touch too thick. The wakame had a nice chewy texture with a good amount of sesame oil. I wasn't a huge fan of the chicken teriyaki as it was overcooked and dry. The rolls weren't too bad with the rice being slightly gummy and not very flavourful. In terms of the raw fish, the tuna was too mushy while the salmon was pretty standard, if not bland. While we were eating away, Dark Helmet was presented with an order of Zaru Soba. Huh? He didn't order that nor did anyone else. He stated that he ordered "Saba" and the server apologized and took it away. Inexplicably, another staff member brought the dish back and we had to go through the whole charade again. I guess our party was too big and they were getting a bit confused... Anyways, the Saba was pretty typical if not a touch overcooked and mostly bland.

Okay bland is one thing, but how about watery Tonkatsu Don? Yes, Bear's and Boss Woman's order of Don was not only watery (and I mean a pool of water at the bottom of the bowl), it was lacking in flavour. Furthermore, the piece of pork was really thin and fried a bit too long. This was an extremely poor attempt. So much so, Bear could even eat the rice. At this point, I revealed to him the 90% rating on Urbanspoon. He was totally shocked. How can that be? The food was mediocre-to-poor. Who were these people voting??? We had a party of 14 and no one thought highly of the experience. So it ain't only me! Makes one wonder if you can really trust the ratings on Urbanspoon...

The Good:
- Um... I'm not sure...

The Bad:
- Lack of execution
- Poor quality
- Weak A/C

Tokyo John on Urbanspoon


LotusRapper said...

OMG, you ate at Tokyo John's ?!?!? If you had told me in advance (I know you often choose spontaneously) I would have waved a big yellow flag and told you to stay away from them at all costs. They're like the lowest of "sushi" purveyors ...... no food there is good, but when topped with MSG, offer a few specials, and served in a faux-Japanese setting and people will come :-(

I know .... I live a couple blocks away, and learned early on this is place for non-sushi people.

Shiro is only a few blocks away. FYI.

Sherman Chan said...

@LR Yah, my bad. BTW, Shiro is closing I think...

LotusRapper said...

Really ?!? Not totally surprised, 'tho. Last time I was there (early Spring ?) their prices have gone up about 15% and a note to customers on the menu cover explained (nicely) in detail how most of their costs have gone up in recent years. I read that and pretty much felt their days are numbered. I must say, Shiro's portions have shrunk quite a bit in recent years and quality was still good but not head and shoulders above other (true Japanese) operations. Not their fault, but this city is just too expensive for them to thrive and compete in.

I hope if they do move, the new tenant will be someone innovative (if food related) and not be some cheap 18 pieces-for-$5.99 operation. We already have that at Tokyo John's ...... (doh !)

Sherman Chan said...

@LR Apparently Shiro retired and there is a new owner

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