Sherman's Food Adventures: Alley 16

Alley 16

If you really don't pay attention to the Northeast corner of Cambie & 16th, you might not have noticed Alley 16 (the newish Japanese BBQ restaurant).  I think this location used to be a hot pot place and naturally, the conversion to individual BBQ wasn't a stretch.  They have predominantly bar seating, but also have a few booths as well as a private room near the front of the place.  Decor is simple, but elegant.  Right at the front of the door, there is what looks like a ionizer to remove the BBQ smell from your clothes.

Yet, if that isn't enough, they also have a bank of lockers right behind it.  This way, you can store your jackets and also any other personal items that you do not want to desecrate with the smells from the individual BBQs.  However, I didn't notice too much in the way of smoke nor significant smelliness from the BBQ.  But they do take this seriously and I really appreciate not smelling like the restaurant when I leave.

Onto the food, we weren't super hungry, so we didn't indulge in some of their meat platters (maybe next time).  We did start with something small as an appie in the Tako Wasabi served with nori sheets.  Although not as deluxe as some of the other appies, this was quite good.  The flavours were on point with the sting of wasabi, sweet tangy crunch of the pickles and the sweetness of the octopus.

Onto the BBQ items, we had the Zhu Personal Set consisting of A5 Wagyu, short rib, rib finger, chuck flap, flank, pork jowl, shiso chicken, mushroom and zucchini.  This was the mid-priced set at $55.00 being sandwiched in between $38.00 and $88.00 sets.  The highlight of this set of course was the buttery and melt-in-our-mouths A5 Wagyu.  Beyond that, the pork jowl was bouncy and tender.  Short rib was fatty and delicious and the shiso chicken was tender with beautiful herbaceousness.

We tacked on the Alley Cut Boneless Short Rib as well.  This was a decently-sized piece of meat that was well-marbled and partially sliced.  It was cooked in one piece and later cut into smaller slices so that it could cook more evenly.  Once cooked, it was classic short rib with a strong beef flavour due to the fat.  With some charring, it was nutty and meaty.  There was a chew, but not enough to make it hard to eat. 

To get a bit more veggie into the meal, we also got the Corn, which was a great thing to grill.  The caramelization and char only helped bring out the natural sweetness of the corn.  It activated the sugars and it was delicious.  The personal BBQs were powerful enough to char the meats without burning them.  As mentioned, the smells were kept to a minimum and they have all kinds of methods to keep your clothes from being affected.  Very thoughtful.  Although we only got a taste of what Alley 16 is about, it was good enough for me to plan a return visit.  Those meat platters look epic and high quality too.

The Good:
- Quality ingredients
- Attentive service
- They do a good job keeping your clothes from smelling

The Bad:
- If you are a big eater, it can get pricey
- Not the best place for a big group



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