Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sushi Giwa

Formerly know as Domenico's Italian along Hastings Street in North Burnaby, is now a newly renovated Korean operated Japanese restaurant. Does North Burnaby need another Japanese restaurant? Well, yes and no. Despite that there are plenty of Japanese restaurants (good, average and bad) in the area, how many are worth revisiting that is not based on convenience?

When we pulled up to the front, I loved the balloon arch along with the balloon flowers! This is definitely something different compared to the usual bouquets of flower that are left outside during restaurant grand openings. As for the interior, there are booth seating arrangements along the walls and the restaurant does not look cramped. In addition, there are a couple of faux trees. From what I remember, the Sushi Mori franchise restaurants were the first to have faux trees.

CRISPY MACKEREL, "Crispy flat fish with rice, served with salad and miso soup" ($9.99).
Rating: 2.5/5.
Since Sushi Giwa is Korean operated, the restaurant offers one page of Korean cuisine dishes. When the mackerel arrived, I was disappointed that the fish is deep fried rather than grilled, despite that the menu shows a grilled mackerel and that most of the time it is grilled. The fish is lightly battered and has a light crispiness, while also exhibiting moist and flaky meat.

Rating: 4/5.
The soft shell crab is practically perfect. There is a very light batter along with a soft crisp exterior, and tastes juicy. Juicy, not moist. Moreover, the soft shell crab is also cut into manageable pieces which makes it easier to eat. The tempura is on the saltier side though and tastes noticeably very salty.

MISO SOUP ($1.25).
Rating: 2.5/5.
The miso soup is included with the crispy mackerel, but we had to request for it because the staff forgot. Served at a luke warm temperature, there is a light miso flavour without tasting salty. The soup does not include tofu though.

Rating: 3.5/5.
The menu states that toro is included in the deluxe assorted sashimi but after inquiring, the staff mentioned it is up to the sushi chef. The selection includes atlantic salmon, tuna, sockeye, saba, hokkigai, hamachi, tako and baby amaebi. Beginning with the salmon, the atlantic tastes fresh and buttery while the sockeye has a nice lean flavour. Moving along, the proper lower body portion of the tuna is served so the slices have that rich sashimi flavour. The tuna also tastes fresh and not mushy.

Following, the hokkigai has a nice soft chewy snap and the tako does not taste too chewy. As for the hamachi, the sashimi is as fresh as it can get. The hamachi tastes fresh, slightly buttery, and has that rich dark burgundy color. Continuing along, the saba tastes very juicy and therefore has a stronger salty as well as pickled flavour which could have been cut with some green onion/ginger. Last up, the baby amaebi tastes fresh and have a mild butteriness. We would have preferred toro like stated on the menu though.

SPICY CREAMY SCALLOP AND REAL CRAB, "Grilled scallop and real crab grilled" ($11.50).
Rating: 2/5.
Curious to see how this appetizer is prepared, we decided to give it a try. When we inquired about the appetizer, the waitress brought over the manager who described the dish as "two large scallops with small scallops around and real crab meat". So… this is not what we visioned.

Essentially, there are two medium sized scallops cut in halves, a few baby scallops, flakes of crab meat, and caramelized onion as well as spinach topped with a lot of cheddar cheese. Both the medium and baby scallops are overcooked, tasting very rubbery, dry and stiff. As for the cheddar, there is also a mix of cayenne or jalapeño which provides a hint of spiciness but the portion is too overwhelming. There is no flavour from the crab meat and the ingredients taste oily rather than like a cheesy goodness.

SALMON ($1.20), TORO ($1.35), TUNA ($1.20), HAMACHI ($2.00) AND UNI ($2.50).
Rating: 2.5/5 (Excluding the sashimi, 1.5/5).
The formation of the nigiri is very tight so the rice tastes really stiff and overwhelms the flavour of the sashimi, which we had to have separately and leave the rice behind. Starting with the salmon, the sashimi tastes fresh and buttery. Following, the toro is as fresh as the sashimi can get and has a nice pink hue. I do not like how the sashimi is overstretched though because it does not look appealing. When I was going to make an Instagram video to show how fresh the toro was, the second nigiri fell apart and the stretched sashimi filet was dangling LOL.

Following, the tuna tastes fresh and the proper cut is served. Next, the nigiri filet for the hamachi is very thin. The sushi chefs' knife was most likely not sharp enough too because he stopped cutting half way through which resulted in a rip, but he decided to continue anyway. Regardless, the hamachi tastes fresh despite that no broken sushi should be ever served. Sushi by Yuji is still the only other restaurant that has served broken sushi. Last up, the uni tastes fresh and very creamy. There is also a subtle sweetness and the rice does not taste as stiff compared to the other nigiri. The rice has a good balance of vinegar and is at a nice room temperature too.

TOTAL: $68.80 + TIP $9.20 = $78.00.

Sushi Giwa overall serves fresh sashimi, but there can be improvements in the nigiri as well as the cheddar scallop motoyaki. The prices are reasonable and affordable though. As for the staff, the waitresses are inexperienced and it took a while to order despite the empty looking restaurant. In addition, our change seemed to be forgotten by one of the waitresses until we inquired. We waited fifteen minutes for the change too while none of the staff bothered to clear our plates.

- Good prices
- Fresh sashimi
- Newly renovated restaurant

- Nigiri can improve
- Inexperienced waitresses

- Sushi Yoi offers a touch cheaper prices and the restaurant has a great "three item combo" value which includes six pieces of nigiri
- Sushi UOmo offers larger (but appetizing) portions for the same price as Sushi Giwa

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 2.5/5

Sushi Giwa on Urbanspoon


  1. LOL the Instagram video was hilarious! Too bad they still didn't fix the stiff sushi rice problem ... mine was unchewable =(

    1. It's okay, I heard Kazu Japanese may be the real thing in North Burnaby! Can't wait to see what we think of it.

  2. any grand opening specials?

    1. Nope, but the balloons might still be up! Lol



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