The bottom level
When my boyfriend and I came tonight, we were greeted by numerous employees yelling at us like any other tapas restaurant. The first thing I noticed is that the menu is limited in sashimi and sushi options since they are more tapas orientated. The second thing I noticed is that the lighting at our table was really dark since we were closer to bar, and it was quite loud. If I knew the seating upstairs was available, I would have definitely chose to go there. We came around 9:40pm and they close at 10:30pm (Monday), so I assumed it was closed. After looking at the menu, my immediate reaction was that the owner basically combined a bunch of popular dishes, and put them all in one restaurant taking advantage of Vancouver's tapas trend.
The lobster miso chowder, lobster and seafood miso soup, baru sashimi, steamed mussels, kamei baru original curry, hawaiian coke, bonsai beef, cajun tuna tacos and mango avocado roll.
The hawaiian coke ($3.50). Coconut syrup is added to the coke and tones down the fizziness. I did not even know it was coconut and could not taste it (I hate coconut), so I enjoyed the drink.
My lobster miso chowder consisting of lobster, clam and miso chowder ($9.50). The chowder is very creamy and rich. The lobster pieces has a nice snap and the clams are good as well. I usually get the lobster miso at Kamei Royale because I never thought the chowder would be good, but it is really good. The chowder is actually better than a lot of west coast restaurants (my boyfriend asked me if it is better than Forages', of course not, but it could be comparable... even though it is not really fair since Forage would be 10x better. But then it is good that Kamei Barus' is even an option to be compared). I definitely recommend the lobster and seafood chowder.
My boyfriend's lobster and seafood miso soup consisting of lobster, prawn, and salmon in soy bean based soup ($9.50). I originally wanted to get this to be on the safe side, but I thought we should get one of each and compare. His miso is rrich and tasty with a blend of seafood (clams, mussels and lobster). The miso is not overpowering and cooked just right. I think they made a mistake though because the lobster and seafood miso is supposed to have prawns and salmon instead of clams and mussel (I did not even get a mussel in mine lol). Another thing I enjoyed in a weird way is how the miso bits did not cloud up on the surface, even though it is usually looks like that. I wonder if it is because they used less miso? Or if they mixed it really well?
The rest of our dishes came out so fast and all at once, so it kind of sucked because I felt rushed to eat it all as soon as possible. I have this tendency to eat faster if the table is over filled (to get dishes out of the way) and I always think the dishes will get cold or warm fast.
This photo makes it look so good! The sauce, the mango, the avocado, it is pretty good. I would have preferred if they had an ahi tuna option, but it was still good.
The baru sashimi consisting of mackerel, yellowtail, salmon, tuna and oyster, two pieces each ($19.95). All the sashimi is fresh as well as the oysters, and the sashimi is cut perfectly on a diagonal.
The steamed mussels with white wine sauce 1/2lb ($8.95). You can choose from saffron cream or soy sauce and butter sauce, and add baguette ($1.95) as well. My boyfriend was first to try the mussels and loved them, he said these are fresh unlike the Poor Italian Ristorantes'. I found the mussels to be perfect, fresh and not over cooked. The sauce is mild with a light hint of wine. I really enjoy them and the tomatoes are so yummy. I think I actually liked the tomatoes more than the mussels, they are really juicy. The mussels are also perfectly rinsed so there is absolutely no seafood taste that even some fine dining restaurants cannot get rid of!f
The bonsai beef, cilantro topped on seared slice of beef with citrus soy sauce ($11.95). The first thing I noticed is that the beef sashimi is very similar to Phnom Penhs', and the only differences would be that the beef slices are cut thicker, and the soy sauce is toned down by the citrus so the taste is not 100% pure soy sauce and black vinegar. I enjoy the beef sashimi.
The mango avocado roll, avocado wrapped with rice and topped with mango ($6.50). The only rolls available are the most popular speciality rolls from other locations and I already eat too much of those, so I chose a plain and simple roll. The roll is average as I expected, and that is why I chose it. One of the problems with the roll is how thin the mango is, I prefer it when they cut it a tiny bit thicker like the other locations. Another problem is that the rice is not wrapped tight enough, so my the sushi fell apart. I lost 4 pieces on the table :(
Our last dish is the baru wine curry rice, "using over 30 spices, Kamei Baru's original curry takes 3 days to create a new sensation that can't be found elsewhere," chicken ($11.50). We both found the curry to taste very.. light, and there is not enough curry taste. It did not taste special to be honest and we had only a couple of bites. The rice is not over cooked or dry which is good. Meh, I would pass unless you like light curry (nothing wrong with that). I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was in a curry mood since I like either a really light taste or really heavy taste. Oh yeah, you can see a fallen piece of my sushi :(
Overall my only complain is the sushi roll which was wrapped loosely because I lost almost half to the table. Other then that, it kind of annoyed me when all the dishes came at once. I guess I am traumatized from being disappointed at some of the last few restaurants I went to, so I was thinking in my head the sashimi would get warm or the mussels would get cold if I did not eat fast enough. Oh, and the curry.. it seems really intense and hyped up with the way they describe it on the menu, I hope they can make it more memorable, unique or tasty in the future. But a definite must order is the lobster seafood miso or chowder! And the bonsai beef, and the mussels! The steamed mussels were actually pretty popular tonight.
Service wise, it could have been better. Our table was already filled with food and we desperately needed many of our dishes to be cleared for more space. But meh, no complaints because the food was good. And everyone did say bye since it is a tapas restaurant.
In the end, I would recommend Kamei Royale for a more quiet dinner time as well as for their sushi/sashimi dishes, and Kamei Baru if you want to drink and come for tapas. I would definitely come back because the food is good.