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Richmond Sushi – AYCE Sushi


Richmond Sushi’s been around for ages. I remember coming here back in high school for one of my first all I could eat experiences. Back then for AYCE, there was “Little Tokyo”, and this. In so far as I can remember anyway.

Modest interior. Confused looking woman included.

Now here’s a place that does a few things differently.

  • A choice of 3 different all you can eat menus. Each with their own selection of dishes, and price points.
    The most affordable being $18.95, which contains a very plain assortment of dishes you find at any AYCE place, with about 50 different choices.
    The Delux edition is $21.95, which DOUBLES the number of menu choices, but still nothing special on the menu.
    The Super Delux option is a whopping $28.95, with 50 sushi/sashimi items, some of which you don’t normally find on a regular AYCE menu elsewhere. Yet still, I don’t trust these types of restaurants to ever make quality stuff. Most people would probably pick the Delux option with its large selection, and at only $3 more than the most basic menu.Pics of the menus for comparison:

    Oh btw, a dish of lemon is $0.25 and Ginger is $0.50. (they only give you free wasabi…and bad wasabi at that)

  • The waiters use PDAs to take your order. If you take a while to order, you might even get your order brought to your table before the waiter leaves.
  • The small portions leave less room for waste. Everything on the menu, when you order, is by the piece. When you order 2 fried scallops, you only get 2, not 2 orders of 3 pieces or what not. I can see this helping them cut down on waste, but would require a different approach to food preparation in the kitchen to achieve. Possibly pre-making all of their menu items and leaving them out all day…hm….

A shot of the small dishes brought to our table:

Cones and sushi (overstuffed with avocado)

The food came fairly fast, with the place being full and crowds lining up at the door. My favorite remains the Seafood Motoyaki. Its just tuna baked in Mayo, but it satisfies like fried chicken and beer.

How come AYCD (All you can drink) never caught on in Canada?

All you can eat restaurants, when they were first introduced, come off as “Hey look at us, we’re gonna let you eat all you want for a fixed price. How can you lose? We’re gluttons for punishment, suckers really. Come and take advantage of us!”. But obviously it is a highly profitable business, or we would not see so many of them around. You can find one AYCE type of joint at almost every one of the 50 or so shopping plazas in Richmond. Its like taking candy from a baby when you open one of these in Richmond where 99% of the populace is underweight Asians who never super size their combos. Unless you’re her.

Serving another country’s food badly in bulk is not a respectable thing to do, and make it seem like a good idea for the Japanese to protect their food as much as they protect their nationality.

But who am I to judge…I only had the basic menu.

Food: 3/10
Value: 5/10
Rant to Review ratio in this post: 8/10
Likelihood of return: 1/10

P.S. They add $1 to all menu prices on Fridays and weekends.

[map]

Now its time for the first edition of
The.Caf.Sux TRIVIA
(because we read wikipedia so much):
Wasabi at restaruants, especially at AYCE, is but an imitation, a mixture of horseradish and mustard with food coloring. The real deal is $125 a pound, and a highly flavourful spice. Chefs put it between the fish and rice in Sushi to protect its flavour from evaporating. It also has bacterial growth inhibiting properties, part of the reason why its commonly served with seafood.

Richmond Sushi on Urbanspoon

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Tomokazu – AYCE Sushi

TomokazuWhen you go for sushi, you usually expect the best quality. When you go for AYCE (all you can eat) sushi, your expectations aren’t quite as high.

With this in mind, we visited Tomokazu on 20-1128 West Broadway, Vancouver.

We arrived at ~6:30pm, well before the cheaper late-night AYCE kicks in. The regular AYCE menu, although pricier, has more options and generally tastes fresher. Think of the late-night AYCE menu as the restaurant’s last-ditch effort to clear out their food before closing.

With the price of admission set at over $20 per person for the regular AYCE, you better eat a lot to get your money’s worth.

Tomokazu

Thankfully, Tomokazu offers many options on their AYCE menu.
There are many varieties of sashimi, sushi, and rolls. If you aren’t a fan of raw fish, there are many cooked options as well: teriyaki meats, tempura, gyoza, salads, fried tofu, etc. You can even get beef tataki (raw beef).

Tomokazu

We ordered a bit of everything. Everything tasted good. The sashimi and sushi were fresh, the tempura was crispy, and the cooked meats were tasty. Although nothing was outstanding, Tomokazu is certainly one of the better Japanese AYCE places in town.

The biggest challenge of AYCE Sushi is deciding when to call it quits.
Do you quit when you’re full? Or do you stuff yourself until the restaurant kicks you out after the 2-hour AYCE time-limit (which is seldom enforced btw)? To complicate things, restaurants usually charge for unfinished sushi; you don’t want to over-order and then have to find creative places to hide unfinished pieces of raw fish (inside the teapot works well..)

I’ve created the graph below to illustrate the different stages of a night of AYCE sushi.

AYCE - Quality vs. Quantity Graph

Note that there is an inverse relationship between the taste of the food and how full you are: the more you eat, the worse it’ll taste.

On this night, we played it smart and didn’t progress far beyond the “i’m full” threshold. Thus, we left Tomokazu both full and satisfied.

7 out of 10 (above average by AYCE Sushi standards)

Tomokazu Japanese on Urbanspoon

Posh – Stylish Sukiyaki

PoshThe variety of Japanese food here in Vancouver continues to amaze me. We have sushi restaurants, trendy izakayas, cozy ramen bars, and even places specializing in donburi and udon. Clearly, sushi is Japanese food but Japanese food is not just sushi.

With Posh, let’s add sukiyaki to the list. Posh describes itself as “The First Exclusive Sukiyaki Restaurant in North America”.

Sukiyaki is all about the meat, baby. Thinly sliced meat that you cook yourself in a bubbling pot of water, soy sauce, sugar, and mirin to be more specific. Posh serves it up all-you-can-eat style.

PoshHere’s how it works. Sit down at your table and you’ll find a large pot atop a portable stove in the center. The server will give you a small menu listing a few types of meats, veggies, tofu, and noodles that you can order. Using the provided pencil, you then specify on the menu how much of each you want. You can order as much as you want, as many times as you want. It’s a process that AYCE Sushi fans are all too familiar with.

Don’t hold back. We saw other tables with 20+ orders of meat, stacked several feet high (ahh, to be a food-starved teenager again…).

Posh

Cooking the ingredients in the hot pot is not only delicious, but also loads of fun. Hot pot tastes best when shared amongst a group of friends. With sukiyaki, it’s fine to eat straight from the pot. Dip the meat and other goodies in a bowl of raw egg if you want to up the authenticity.

IMG_1023

PoshThe food is good. The value is great – a flat fee of $13.88. The service is fine. And the environment is pretty nice. These pictures are from the original Richmond location. Posh has since opened 2 other locations on West Broadway and Kingsway, so they must be doing something right.

You can tell that they’re targeting the younger crowds. They have their funky logo plastered on all their diningware. The environment is low-lit and cool. And their website is super slick.

I can’t see myself going here every week, but I’ll definitely return whenever I crave meat. Recommended!

Posh Sukiyaki Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Isami Sushi – casual Japanese food done well

isami sushi - exterior A bit of disclaimer: these pictures do no justice to the quality of food served at this fine establishment. On Kingsway in front of Metrotown in Burnaby, there are about four billion Japanese restaurants that appear to be competing fiercely with each other on having the most generic sushi menu served in gut popping proportions, while charging prices that make you think

isami sushi - rice wine steamed mussels“hm, not bad for a boatload of fish, and the taste totally meets my expectations. I sure am getting great value out of this meal…yet its not AYCE… how is that possible?”
Meanwhile as you look over at the open kitchen and see an assembly line of young buckling sushi chefs rolling away like they were making doves out of clay, a lineup at the door extending to the sidewalk, and slowly it all begins to make sense.

isami sushi - beef tatakiisami sushiisami sushi - spider roll

Venture a bit further down, and you’ll find Isami Sushi, a quaint little place with a distinct Japanese feel, and the staff is actually Japanese.
In case you couldn’t tell, or just weren’t paying attention, the ratio of restaurants serving Japanese food to restaurants serving Japanese food owned by Japanese people in Vancouver has grown to 1024 to 1 this year. True fact.

Highly rated and low on the lineups, we gave Isami’s menu a spin with great pleasure.

We sampled a few of their sushi items, which were skillfully prepared, along with an appetizer of beef tataki and steamed mussels in some rice wine broth. Their dynamite roll was Dy-Na-Mite, and their spider roll had a huge crab leg sticking out and gave that roll more “spider” than it knows what to do with.

These guys don’t serve up big portions, but i figure its the opportunity cost in man hours used in rolling the goods that warrants the price of admission rather than the size of the generic frozen atlantic salmon being rolled.
The place is adequately staffed with a 4 person wait staff to take your order with attentiveness, and 2 senior looking sushi chefs at the helm. After 6 menu items, the bill came to less than $40, and we left full but not stuffed, and completely satisfied with the dining experience.
Food: 8.5/10
Ambience: 6/10
Crab Leg-to-Spider Roll Sushi Size Ratio: 1.5-1
Like sushi? Learn about this sacred food through the power of the intarnets:
All true. I swear it.

Isami Sushi on Urbanspoon

Kingford Seafood Restaurant – Quality Dim Sum

Dim Sum in Vancouver is about as blatantly available as AYCE sushi. While the lowest denominator for AYCE can give people plenty of cause for agitation, dim sum places usually know their self worth, and price accordingly.
At the low end you can find sub $2 per item hole in the wall joints where you get a dishes that barely do justice to their name; shrimp dumplings smaller than a wonton, over steamed rice noodles with less than a dusting of meat and green onions, deep fried miscellany, teapots with cracked spouts…all things that make you wonder if you really should have left your house for.
I don’t know what’s at the upper end, and its probably a price I can’t afford, but this weekend we headed over to Kingford Seafood Restaurant on No.3 road, where you can feed your crack ha gau 虾饺(If that looks funny its cause its Chinese…simplified Chinese…for efficiency you know.) habit for $4 a dish. These plump fatties were very much worth their price tag:
Ha Gau Shrimp Dumplings Kingford Seafood
Its sister dish, the Scallop dumpling, is just about the same thing, but includes a slice of scallop. Though very similar to the Shrimp dumplings, I find it easier to tell if a restaurant uses fresh ingredients from the scallop than the shrimp. This one passes with flying colors.
Scallop Dumplings Kingford Seafood
I usually like to order a couple of my regular dishes at Dim Sum, and my girlfriend has her own set of favorites, so we end up settling on a slightly different ensemble each time.
The Chinese donut wrapped in rice noodle had the perfect blend of mush and chew. We were supplied with a few dipping sauces that went great with this:
Kingford Seafood
My all time favorite dish, the one I use as the ruler for measuring quality of Dim Sum – Chicken Feet. Here the fowl claws (hehe) are doused with a slightly spicy black bean sauce, and cooked perfectly so the skin falls off the bones with ease. Perfect.
Kingford Seafood
A dish quickly becoming one of my favourites – Shrimp battered eggplant (I made that name up) . Generously proportioned, and delicious to boot.
Kingford Seafood
Turnip cake. I’ve had some damn fine home made turnip cake before, and this comes very close. None of that mashed potato stuff you might lurking elsewhere.
Kingford Seafood
Wrapped bamboo shoot rolls with crab meat shavings (I made that name up too). Its nice that we get to see some real crab meat on a dish from time to time.
Kingford Seafood
Kingford Seafood

I haven’t had the urge to rant all post long! and for good reason. At a price of about $35 for 2 people(we took some food to go, so ideally 5 dishes would’ve been enough), this lunch was a fantastic dining experience.

Food: 8/10
Value: 8.5/10
Service: Existent. (Really.)
If this blog had a “this cafeteria doesn’t suck” award, I’d award it to this place.

Kingford Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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