Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ginza Sushi

Since I was meeting a friend around West Plateau in Coquitlam, we decided to venture out to Port Coquitlam for Japanese. Neither of us had high expectations considering the area, but some of the photos (whole slices of uni are served rather than loose pieces) from Sushi Bar Shyun did not look bad. Actually, I meant the photos from Asahi Japanese but somehow kept thinking of Sushi Bar Shyun. When arriving at Sushi Bar Shuyn, we did not know the restaurant is closed on Mondays and the both of us agreed to try out a random, Ginza Sushi.

Ginza Sushi is located in a small plaza between a Chinese restaurant Rainbow Butterfly and Dominos Pizza, along with a Starbucks drive thru. Walking in, there is a hallway to the dining room where we waited for a bit until a friendly as well as polite waiter seated us. 

The restaurant appears to be a small Korean operated family business and the staff is very friendly as well as welcoming (why is it never the same for Korean cuisine restaurants?!). There are a few booth seating arrangements, tables in the centre, and even a private section at the back of the restaurant for large parties. After ordering, we asked if we could move to a larger table because the amount of food was a bit too much for a two person table, and the waiter was more than happy to.

Ginza Sushi offers assorted sashimi along with a deluxe option and when we inquired about the difference, it was the same selection but different portion. So, we went for the assorted and when asking about the selection, the waiter was proud to mention the restaurant receives fresh shipments of fish daily and only the freshest will be selected. Having said that, we were curious to see what the selection included.

When the assorted sashimi arrived, it seemed a bit different than what the both of us were expecting. Tako and hokkigai is always available as well as packaged, and no restaurant needs daily shipments of them. 

However, the tako is properly rinsed despite the slightly thick slices, which resulted in a more than usual chewiness. After finishing the two, we went for the toro which unfortunately tastes very dry and not fresh at all. The toro is not from the day of and has no flavour whatsoever, forget even a slight fattiness. Following, we went for the tuna which tastes average, and is the middle portion of the fish. Last up, the salmon tastes the freshest since it is probably the most popular choice of sashimi here. The salmon has a nice butteriness and made us regret not going for separate orders of sashimi.

As we were ordering, we asked if the batter for the soft shell crab is the same as tempura and the waiter said of course. But, it is not and is this soft shell crab or hockey pucks?

These are rock hard as well as extremely crunchy, and the worst I ever had. Who wants to eat a hockey puck? Furthermore, where are the legs? This is a very common mistake that amateur cooks make. You have to hold all the legs and slowly dip the body first into the fryer, followed by the legs. In addition, the soft shell crab should be removed from the package and battered with the legs spread out. Not, remove the package, batter and chuck into the fryer. As for the side, it comes with a fresh iceberg salad with what appears to be drizzled mango syrup (which we did not try).

Fortunately, the assorted tempura is a lot better than the soft shell crab. The batter is very light as well as crispy, and everything is perfectly fried. The prawns are a good size (not too small) and have a nice snap. Furthermore, the vegetables taste moist and the tempura is actually quite good. Asides from the perfect tempura, the sauce tastes very flavourful as well.

Negitoro rolls used to be a favourite of mine when I was a child, until many restaurants started using scraps of tuna for them. By scraps, I mean after removing the sashimi portion along with the end pieces, they scrape the leftover meat for negitoro rolls. Blech. Well, with "tuna belly" stated on the menu, Ginza Sushi must actually use toro so it was a safe choice for me. The negitoro roll has that nice refreshing taste from the green onion and the restaurant does use toro (despite a very small amount). But unfortunately similar to the sashimi, the toro is not very fresh and lacks that fattiness. Nevertheless, the negitoro roll was a great filler.

TAMAGO ($1.00), AMAEBI ($1.80), SABA ($1.25) AND TORO NIGIRI ($1.00).

When dropping off the nigiri, the waiter mentioned the kitchen fried up the heads which can be eaten. I thought this was very nice of him considering that some people may not know. In addition, the heads are stuck with rice onto the plate to prevent them from falling. The amaebi have a nice natural sweetness and we had the masago separately to prevent spoiling the soft crunchiness of the sashimi. As for the tamago, very generic. Following, the saba has a nice pickled flavour and is topped with a bit of green onion to help cut that natural as well as pleasant fishiness.

Earlier on when looking at the menu, we noticed the prices for toro nigiri are very cheap and we went for a couple each. Also, the description on the menu beside the toro was, "Go Fast!!". Perhaps occasionally, Ginza Sushi sells out fast due to the extremely cheap price? Well, I wish that was the case because that would mean freshness. However, similar to the sashimi earlier on, the toro does not taste fresh. The toro by no means tastes fishy, it is just dry and lacks that rich fatty flavour. As for the rice throughout dinner, there could have been a stronger hint of sushi vinegar. However, the formation is perfect and the rice does not taste dried out.

When the nabeyaki arrived, the waiter mentioned a couple of times the bowl is very hot and to be careful not to touch it. The nabeyaki includes a prawn tempura along with pieces of moist as well as battered chicken (dark meat) which are pan fried rather than deep fried, an egg and vegetables such as broccoli and white mushroom. As for the soup base, the color is very dark and the broth tastes fairly sweet. There is no light sea salt seaweed dashi natural flavour and to be blunt, the nabeyaki is very hard to eat and is a failed dish.

As for the udon, the noodles are nicely cooked and have a pleasant chewiness. But, the broth is the most important to me when having nabeyaki udon. We ended up packing the udon because we did not want to leave it at the restaurant, in case we were asked if anything is wrong with it. Asides from the broth, I would have preferred grilled chicken rather than batter although this is just a personal preference.

The japche tastes slightly sweet and the noodles are perfectly cooked. Furthermore, there are a few slices of tender tasting beef. If anything, the japche is a bit too oily and there is a wet pool of oil at the bottom. However, better oil than water! The japche is actually not bad and is better than some I have had at a Korean restaurant.

As if the japche was not kind enough, the restaurant also offered every table a side of blueberries along with the bill, as well as candy.

TOTAL: $58.35 + TIP $8.65 = $67.00.

Overall, the waiter was friendly, polite and very welcoming. In regards to the food, the only issues would be the toro, soft shell crab along with the nabeyaki udon and the highlight is definitely the tempura which has a more than reasonable price. Actually the prices at Ginza Sushi are very reasonable and if I lived near Port Coquitlam, I may give the restaurant another chance on a busier day because perhaps the sashimi may be more fresh. Plus, I really love a restaurant that welcomes their clientele and goes an extra step further. If anything, none of the speciality rolls appealed to us because most of them include cream cheese or unagi, and perhaps the rolls are Ginza Sushi's speciality which we missed out on.

- Tempura is great (3.5/5)
- Very reasonable prices
- Clean restaurant
- Friendly staff and people that care

- Toro is not fresh (although it is properly sliced in a long narrow formation)
- Soft shell crab (0/5)
- Nabeyaki udon (0.5/5)

- Tuna tataki with fried garlic looked pretty good, we should have tried that
- The friendly staff was a big part of our experience because there is nothing worse than below average to mediocre food along with rude service
- I recommend ordering separate orders of sashimi instead of the assorted or deluxe because the value does not seem as good as a la carte

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 3.5/5

Ginza Sushi on Urbanspoon

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