Sigh, finally a break from Shanghainese! I am getting over the fact of no longer rushing to visit the last 4 Shanghai cuisine restaurants anymore. My first choice for dinner tonight was En Japanese because it has been a few months since my last visit, BUT THEY ARE CLOSED! Apparently a new restaurant Takumi replaced them. I wonder if they are possibly the same owners from the West Van location? Anyways, my second choice was Shizen Ya.
There is free parking available at the back (only 4 spots I think) and the restaurant is a bit small. It seems like most people grab take out or eat a couple of dishes and do their own thing.
THE OCEAN QUARTET SALAD, T.S.T SASHIMI, TOFU AND VEGETABLE MISO SOUP, MANGO CALIFORNIA ROLL, SAKURA BLOSSOM ROLL AND TIGER PRAWN TEMPURA.
The first dish is the OCEAN QUARTET SALAD CONSISTING OF SOCKEYE SALMON, TUNA, SPOT PRAWN, AND FRESH CRAB ON SPRING MIX SALAD WITH HOMEMADE MISO DRESSING ($10.95). The spring mix salad is fresh and there are no brown or soggy pieces. There is a good amount of crab pieces along with slices of avocado, green pepper and white onions. I personally would have preferred red onions or even sweet onions over white onions. For the crab pieces, they are real but packaged (nothing wrong with that, just saying). The sashimi pieces are at room temperature and I do not recall seeing any spot prawns.. I did see a baby shrimp which was probably a frozen spot prawn, but I honestly do not think it was (I know a restaurant wouldn't lie, just saying). For the miso dressing, it is flavourful and a bit salty.
The second dish is the ORGANIC TOFU AND VEGETABLE MISO SOUP ($2.50). The miso soup has a good amount of tofu, seaweed, green onions and carrots, which is nice for those who like extra vegetables, but bad for those who want a clear miso soup. The miso has a subtle taste and is a bit salty, but not too salty.
The third dish is the WHOLE WHEAT TIGER PRAWN TEMPURA ($8.95). The prawns are lightly battered and despite it being whole wheat (and not the Panko flaky batter), they make it work. The whole wheat batter does not seem to be an issue regarding the lack of taste and the prawns are not over deep fried. The prawns have a nice snap to them and are pretty good. I definatley recommend these just because they are whole wheat.
The fourth dish is the T.S.T SASHIMI CONSISTING OF 5 TUNA, 5 WILD SOCKEYE SALMON AND 3 TORO SASHIMI PIECES ($19.95). The sashimi pieces are fresh and nicely cut as well, but they are quite warm at room temperature. They should turn their cooler higher.
The fifth dish is the FRESH MANGO CALIFORNIA ROLL, MANGO ON FRESH CRAB, AVOCADO, CUCUMBER, SPRING MIX SALAD ROLLED WITH BROWN SUSHI RICE WITH HOMEMADE SWEET SAUCE ($11.95). The mango sushi roll is tasty as well as sweet because they add a glaze to the mango pieces. I would have preferred the natural mango slices itself with the sauce, and feel like adding the glaze to the mango pieces is unnecessary. The sushi roll is nicely made without being too loose or tight and you can taste the crab meat, the sauce is not overpowering at all.
The last dish is the SAKURA BLOSSOM ROLL, FRESH CRAB, SPICY ALBACORE TUNA, CUCUMBER AND AVOCADO ROLLED WITH BROWN SUSHI RICE, WRAPPED WITH WILD SOCKEYE SALMON AND CREAM MAPLE DRESSING ($12.95). The rice seems to be undercooked (maybe I could not tell from the mango roll since it was really sweet?) and you can taste the powder inside the rice. The presentation could have been nicer without missing pieces of salmon but it is not a big deal. I like how they add a couple pieces of spring mix salad in the middle, compared to a usual piece of sushi that would be in the middle at other restaurants. Other than the presentation, the blossom roll is average, nothing bad or special. I basically like any brown rice sushi since I used to make them at home before restaurants started offering them. I guess I should say there is a good amount of crab, tuna, cucumber and avocado. I mean, it is what it is and there are no complaints (except the undercooked rice) or raves. If anything, there was no spiciness or a barely there spice to the spicy tuna. Also, despite the menu saying there is maple dressing, the roll is not sweet at all (which I prefer) but I cannot really taste the maple.
Shizen Ya is more of a lunch restaurant to me rather than dinner because the menu is quite limited to rolls, sashimi, salads and teriyaki, which explains why many people grab take out from here, plus the restaurant is pretty small (max capacity less than 26?). The rolls are light, refreshing and good for any brown rice sushi fans. I assume the main point is they provide healthier options while being tasty and not bland. I also assumed that they would have fresh juice available since the restaurant seems to emphasize fresh and organic ingredients all over the menu, but they only have organic juice from concentrate (with added preservatives). Onto the service... who even cares about service? Not many do, but I do.
The restaurant is quite empty with three waitresses and seems more western friendly as waitresses ask every table how the dishes are, actually they ask how every single dish is. Well, no one asked us or cleared our plates. There are waitresses doing nothing (which is perfectly fine) but please clear empty plates. They did clear them at the end, which is good I guess.. but that is because we wanted the bill. Other then that, one of the waitresses kind of annoyed me. There was a dirty straw left on our table before we switched to a larger table and she put the straw in our drink. Umm.. I do not even think Chinese restaurants do that. Meh, good news is that they are more western friendly and I guess we need more restaurants like that.
Note: Only sockeye salmon is available if that is an issue (it is healthier than atlantic btw!). If the restaurant emphasizes freshness, shouldn't the sashimi at least be in the proper temperature?