Near misses. No, we're not talking about driving, parking or walking down the street in Richmond. I'm referring to potential restaurant visits that never happened due to a variety of factors such as lineups, random closures and just not being hungry (yes, that happens). The last time I had planned to hit up Rajio with Miss Y, we were on our way back from my hockey game at UBC. However, we weren't really all-that-hungry because of stomach-stuffing bagels from Rosemary Rocksalt earlier in the evening. Fast forward a year later, we made the trek out to 10th and Alma, even though we were in North Van!
It worked out for Sweet Tooth as she is a resident of the neighbourhood and Milhouse didn't mind traveling for food. They foolishly let me do the ordering and dish 1 of 8 was the Black Olive Tuna Tataki. As evidenced in the picture, the albacore tuna was seared evenly while the inside was buttery and sweet. Tart, salty and aromatic, the kalamata olive garlic sauce was impactful as well as the ponzu jelly as it added an extra hit of saltiness. Continuing on with raw fish, we has the Sa-Sea-Mi Salad with bits of albacore tuna, tako, hamachi and tobiko atop romaine and dressed with a kalamata olive soya dressing. No complaints about the sashimi as it was plentiful and on point, but the copious amount of red onion was overpowering. On the other hand, the dressing was strong enough to be noticed with hits of saltiness, sweetness and tang.
Onto some deep-fried goodness, we went for the KFC! No, it wasn't Colonel Sanders, rather it was their version of chicken karaage battered with Komeko rice flour. In turn, this meant the outside was super crispy while being light. Inside, the chicken was succulent and well-seasoned with a balanced amount of salt and sweetness. Naturally, if I was given the responsibility of ordering, I was not going to get out of there without a dish of the "Y" Ebimayo with chili mayo. Okay, I wasn't a huge fan of this as the batter was too doughy and not crispy at all. I didn't even taste the cilantro in the batter. I didn't mind the mayo though as there was enough chili for effect.
Looking rather grand, the Yuzu n' Bonito Flake Dressed Deep-Fried Tofu was da bomb. This was full-flavoured with the plenty of fried bonito on the outside of the crispy tofu. The yuzu rind added a tart bitterness which balanced off the aggressive drizzle of sweet shoyu. Inside, the tofu was somewhat firm, but still exhibited a certain butteriness. Sweet, sticky and tart, the Black Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs were eerily similar to Chinese black vinegar ribs. However, this one was made with a balsamic reduction that emulated the flavour of black vinegar. I found the deep-fried finished ribs were a bit stringy and chewy, but the meat underneath was indeed fall-off-the-bone tender.
Nearing the end of our "snack" after hockey, we had a relatively smaller dish in the Tontoro (Grilled Pork Cheek). This was simply seasoned with toragashi and grilled until a beautiful bark formed. Hence, there was no absence of flavour and caramelization. Texturally, the meat was classic pork cheek being tender while maintaining a rebound and appealing chewiness. For our one larger item, we had the Kakuni Bibimbap Stone Bowl. This was a large amount of rice topped with green onions, stewed pork belly, savoury shrimp and peppery sweet soy. Due to the amount of rice, a proper crust did not form nor did the soy properly caramelize. Hence, the rice was pretty soft and not that aromatic.
For dessert, Sweet Tooth needed to be convinced to share the Fluffy Cheesecake with yuzu and wolfberries. Talking about not living up to one's nickname! Anyways, it turned out that it wasn't hard to finish the cake as it was classic Japanese-style. It was akin to sponge cake with a touch of cheesiness and light denseness. It wasn't very sweet, but still exhibited a baked cheese aroma. By now, we were actually full and this was not completely due to the fact I ordered 8 items. There are times when one can order even more dishes at an Izakaya and come away hungry. So this had a lot to do with the portion sizes as well.
- Fairly large portions
- Reasonable prices
- Attentive service
- Like most izakayas, not the most comfortable to lounge around