Sherman's Food Adventures: Sushi Bella (North Vancouver)

Sushi Bella (North Vancouver)

I'm not sure if you have noticed, but AYCE (All-You-Can-Eat) is making a comeback in the GVRD.  It was all the rage in the 90's up until the early 2000's, but then many of the AYCE spots began to disappear.  Now we have an array of AYCE yakiniku, hot pot and Japanese.  We even see the non-buffet endless brunch at ARC Dining.  Is it because of the economy and inflation?  Do people regard AYCE a good value considering that it costs just as much, if not more, to dine a la carte?  Not really sure, but I must shamelessly admit that I do enjoy the occasional AYCE just for the variety.  I go in with reasonable expectations (shocking how many people do not and then complain afterwards).  That we did when Jackie and I visited Sushi Bella for lunch. 

To get a sense of the menu, we ordered almost everything starting with Edamame, Green Salad, Sunomono, Spicy Tofu and Agedashi Tofu.  Not a whole lot to say about these as they were pretty standard.  I thought the sunomono was nicely sweet and tangy with al dente noodles.  The tofu was a bit stiff for both dishes.  Next set of dishes included the Ebi/Veggie Tempura, Fried Gyoza and Chicken Karaage.  Although the batter was a bit thick, the tempura still ate quite well and crispy.  The gyoza were crunchy with a moist filling.  Also crispy, the chicken karaage was juicy while properly seasoned.

Although not cut in a particularly attractive manner, the Atlantic Salmon & Albacore Tuna Sashimi were decent with a pleasant texture and sheen.  We got a bunch of Nigiri as well including Chopped Scallop, Inari, Tamago, Salmon, Ebi and Tuna.  Again, these were quite typical for AYCE with a little less ingredient-to-rice ratio.  With that being said, the chopped scallop was quite good with a buttery texture and tasty mayo mix.  The sushi rice was decent, being chewy with not too much moisture.  Would've liked a bit more seasoning though.

Also had the Spicy Sashimi and it featured fairly large chunks of fish.  Texture was fine and the sauce was sweet and slightly spicy.  We ordered a selection of Sushi Cones that consisted of the Spicy Salmon Cone, Spicy Tuna Cone, Negitoro Cone, Chopped Scallop Cone, Spicy Chopped Scallop Cone, California Cone, Yam Tempura Cone and Dynamite Cone.  Since we had to take pictures, the nori had softened up. To be fair, they were still crispy when they arrived.  I thought there was a good amount of ingredient-to-rice ratio in these and they were worth ordering.  I particularly enjoyed the scallop cones as well as the spicy cones.  These had the most moisture and flavour.

Onto the Maki Sushi portion of our meal, we got everything and as you can see, they were constructed decently, especially for AYCE. I'm not going into each individual roll, but the highlights included the really large BC Roll with lots of ripe and creamy avocado and salmon skin (with lots of meat on it).  Shockingly, I also enjoyed the Veggie Roll with lots of crunchy beet, daikon and carrot.  All of the other rolls were decent with a fairly thin layer of rice (so they weren't trying to stuff us full of rice).

Onto some cooked food (other than the appies), we had the Teriyaki Beef, Teriyaki Chicken and Teriyaki Tofu.  Again, nothing out-of-the-ordinary here with the beef being in thin slices and drizzled with some teriyaki sauce.  I did appreciate that it wasn't doused with too much.  The beef was decently tender.  I found the chicken to be more moist and juicy (which is usually the case) while the tofu was stiff like the other items we had earlier.

Our final set of dishes were the carbs including the Tempura Udon, Veggie Yaki Soba, Chicken Yakisoba and Beef Yakisoba.  I thought the yakisoba were all quite good with chewy noodles and not being overdressed with sauce.  The udon was pretty typical and was non-offensive.  In general, the AYCE at Sushi Bella is serviceable and decent in quality.  Naturally, you need to have reasonable expectations (which means you know that it won't be comparable to the best in town).  Considering it is $32.99 for weekdays and $34.99 on weekends for lunch, this is fair pricing.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- With reasonable expectations, the food quality is actually decent
- Good selection, especially for a lunch AYCE
- They didn't overload the sushi with rice

The Bad:
- Sashimi was sliced strangely (probably due to the fact they weren't the prime cuts)
- Without reasonable expectations, your experience might be different  


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