Sherman's Food Adventures: Bistro Taiyo

Bistro Taiyo

Honestly, my visit to Nanaimo had more to do with visiting friends than anything else.  Hence, my hopes for good eats in Nanaimo were as low as sugar-free cola.  However, after a search of the best places to eat, there were actually a few interesting choices.  Just my luck, we were here on a Monday and the majority of them were closed for dinner.  So with limited options, we picked one of the top-rated spots in Astera's Greek Taverna.  Again, just my luck, they were completely booked!  So we took a stroll up the block and stumbled upon Bistro Yaiyo.  No, Japanese was not the first thing we thought of, but we were hangry!

Viv wanted the Takoyaki and hoped the kiddies would try them.  Well, they did, but I guess it wasn't their thing.  Not sure why since I thought they were prepared properly.  They were served on a plate that held them perfectly in place.  Soft and fluffy, these had a nice mouth-feel and featured a piece of chewy, yet tender octopus in the middle.  There was just enough sauce and bonito flakes on top.  One dish we could've done without was the Ebi Mayo as the batter was too thick and gummy.  Hence, it wasn't crispy enough and once we got to the last piece, it was texturally off-putting.  In terms of the spicy mayo, it was a tad too spicy where it was too dominant.

My daughter wanted to try the Salmon Belly for some reason.  This was the first time she ever suggested that we order it, but it wasn't out-of-the-ordinary since she does love salmon.  Well, this certainly passed the litmus test with her since it was crispy on the outside and buttery soft on the inside.  It was fresh-tasting and only lightly salted.  It was cooked just enough were it was still fatty and tender.  Instead of the usual rice dishes for the kiddies, we wanted them to try something new in the Katsu Curry.  This was a large portion of rice, sauce and a pork cutlet.  The pork was rather lean which meant it wasn't exactly juicy.  Yet at the same time, it wasn't chewy.  We thought the panko coating was appealingly crispy.  As for the curry, it was rich and lightly sweet while packing noticeable heat.

For our sushi roll, we got the Taiyo House Roll which was rather large.  It featured a tonne of tobiko on top while the rice was nicely chewy.  We thought the roll was pretty good with plenty of ingredients.  As usual, my son wanted his fill of Nigiri including tamago, unagi and smoked salmon.  This featured the same chewy mildly-seasoned rice, but we thought that the topping was rather meager for the amount of rice.  Lastly, we had the Chirashi Don which was topped with fairly thin slices of fish.  Most were quite good except the albacore tuna was a bit too soft.  We loved the inclusion of red tuna and were shocked that our son ate 3 pieces!!!  Woohoo!  Overall, the food at Bistro Taiyo was decent and ultimately did the job, especially in Nanaimo.

The Good:
- Respectable Japanese, especially in a place not known for it
- Friendly service

The Bad:
- Prices can get up there
- Small place, can get pretty cramped

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