Sushi Nanaimo

There I was.  Caught between a rock and a hard place.  No, I wasn't in a parking lot fighting for a space on #3 Road in Richmond (although that would be quite the pickle..).  Rather, I was given the task of organizing lunch with the following criteria: gluten-free but not vegetarian, kid-friendly, not expensive, not Asian and within Vancouver.  Argh...  Seriously?  Okay, I'd rather be fighting for that parking spot with nothing but my fragile body...  Apparently, they do that in Richmond too...  Anyways, I was able to remove the "non-Asian" stipulation out of the equation when Herbie the Lovebug relented in his demands.  So I ended up suggesting Aki, yet they were not open for lunch on Sundays (pretty common for authentic Japanese restaurants).  Hence, I resorted to a Korean-run Japanese restaurant out on Nanaimo simply named Sushi Nanaimo.  Now, don't let the generic name fool you, the place is very popular with the locals as it does its best "Sushi Garden" impersonation.

Luckily we arrived before noon as the place was quickly hopping with a lineup out the door.  Taking advantage that Nikita, Bluebeard, Lana Banana and Herbie the Lovebug were all hungry, I went ahead and ordered too much food.  Like that would be a surprise...  To make things simple, I got the Tray C consisting of Nigiri (3pcs each of Salmon, Tuna, Ebi, Hokkigai and Chopped Scallop) and Maki Sushi (Dynamite, Red Roll, Chopped Scallop, Mangodise and California).  For $35.95, this was a lot of food which was actually decently prepared.  As you can see, they didn't merely hack up a bunch of seafood and slap it randomly on rice.  There was a certain neatness and order to the presentation. The sushi rice was a touch dry, but acceptable with a hint of vinegar.  As for the rolls, everything was pretty typical with the red roll having a considerable sesame oil hit.  Next up was an order of Wild Salmon Sashimi.  Although cut a bit strange in my opinion, the fish itself had a nice sheen and was naturally sweet.  I liked the buttery smooth texture with a nice bite.

So far so good, until we had the Tokatsu-Don...  At first glance, there didn't seemed to be anything wrong with the dish.  Look at it.  It was large portion with a big tonkatsu on top caressed by egg.  Yes, the pork cutlet was fried nicely and it was sufficiently tender.  Furthermore, the egg was both plentiful and fluffy.  And, there was enough sauce to properly flavour the rice.  So what's wrong you might ask...  Well, if the rice underneath was supposed to be waterlogged and soggy, then it would've been a solid Don.  But since that is not how one makes a tonkatsu-don, it was a fail. Seeing how the Yakisobi was the daily special at $6.95, we got one of those too (with chicken).  Unlike everything else so far, this was a more modest portion served on a sizzling hot plate.  The noodles were al dente and properly sauced while the chicken was plentiful and moist.  However, the whole dish was quite greasy.

As evidenced in the pictures, the portion sizes were very generous and it got even more generous with the King Chicken Katsu.  At $7.50, we weren't expecting much, however, the darn thing was massive and took up more space on the table than J-Lo's
derrière.  Compared to the one I got at Gawa Sushi, this was easily 2.5x bigger.  What made it even better was the fact it was fried beautifully.  The cutlet was crunchy, yet juicy inside (despite being rather thin).  Although it looked like an aftermath of a Peter North flick, there was just the right amount of sauce and mayo.  Lastly, we had one each of the Vegetable Tempura and Prawn Tempura.  They were served hot and crispy.  The prawns were pretty big and even though the batter was a touch heavy, it was still light.  Despite some pretty big eaters at the table, we struggled to finish the food (and we didn't).  We all agreed Sushi Nanaimo is a fabulous value considering that the food is above-average.  Yes, we realize it is not an authentic Japanese restaurant, but we really didn't care either.  We weren't looking for authenticity anyways.  What we got was decent eats, big portions at low prices.

The Good:
- Cheap
- Large portions
- Decent food

The Bad:
- Service seemed a bit confused
- Gets busy and the place ain't that big either

Sushi Nanaimo on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

holly said...

Sherman, you made me a believer. I normally stay away from the big quantity/low quality places, but this place sounds decent. I do love good value and would be wiling to compromise. Also, calling something "King Cutlet" got my attention.

Will check it out asap.

LotusRapper said...

I'm a total sucker for good katsu. And like Holly, you got my attention on this one !

@Holly: if you like pork and/or chicken katsus, my fave places are:

Sushiyama
Clubhouse Sushi
i-Cafe (Chinese-style of Japanese-style katsu ....)

holly said...

@ LR Thanks for the tips. Of the three you mentioned, I'm surprised by i-Cafe as I haven't heard good things about this restaurant.

What do you think about the katsu's at the japanese katsu chain in Aberdeen or the korean restaurant called Daeji?

I also think Moncton Cafe in Steveston would make a memorable one too.

LotusRapper said...

Hey Holly - i-Cafe isn't stellar, just ok. But service is attentive and fast, as are the food, and the prices are very reasonable. I also like their 2nd floor light and "view" out to Broadway, FWIW [grin].

I find the tonkatsu at Saboten okay, but given its high price (and small portion) I'm biased against them. It could be me, but I think they're over-hyped.

Daeji - interesting place for sure. I've only been to the one on Dunsmuir. The katsu was good (better than Saboten) nice hot and crispy. The sides (macaroni salad, a lettuce slaw and corn niblets were meh, and the plain rice I had was a bit soggy and clumpy that day. I'm not sure I'd trek there just for the katsu.

FWIW, I ate at Sushiyama (Broadway & Brunswick) three times in the past two weeks, two tonkatsus and once a chicken katsu. :-)
It's $8 at lunch or dinner, includes a nice fresh mixed greens salad and miso soup