Friday, December 12, 2014

Sushi Itshoni

One restaurant I avoid in Burquitlam is Sushi Itshoni. I remember coming here a few years ago and the poor quality food along with the unfriendly staff, did not make a good experience. Moreover, I remember seeing the staff reusing the shredded daikon garnishes which I find appalling. I even made sure to pour soy sauce over the daikon so at least the garnishes on my table would not be reused!

So why the revisit? A friend of mine wanted to try something new in the area and it was not her first time asking. She has asked me at least ten times to come here over the last year and I was thinking fine, hope you learn your lesson...

When we arrived, the atmosphere was a lot more welcoming compared to my first visit a few years back. The restaurant has a very simple interior and does not look cluttered. There are a few booth seats along with tables in the centre, and the seating arrangements are not cramped. Furthermore, the owners and staff are friendly.

Sushi Itshoni is a Korean restaurant that offers both Korean as well as Japanese cuisine. I was hesitant on ordering sashimi due to my negative former experience and that the prices are higher. For example, even the "basic" nigiri such as salmon ($2.90) and tuna ($2.90) are higher priced.

The banchan consists of kimchi, bean sprouts and pickled vegetables. First up, the kimchi tastes very fresh and has a rich spiciness. The spiciness has a nice settled flavour and is not just a generic spicy taste. Following, the bean sprouts are very generic and could have been more fresh but there is a light taste of sesame oil. As for the pickled vegetables, the selection includes pickle, carrot and daikon.

Rating: 2.5/5.
We were presented with a complimentary dish of smelt tempura. The batter is a touch thick and tastes soft rather than crisp. But regardless, the smelt tastes moist and not dry.

HAMACHI ($3.50) AND TORO ($2.90).
Rating: 3.5/5.
Thank goodness the nigiri does not disappoint! The hamachi tastes very fresh and exhibits that rich deep burgundy color. As for the toro, the sashimi tastes fresh, buttery and fatty. Pair the fresh sashimi with perfectly cooked rice and a nice formation, results in great nigiri. The rice tastes soft with a good vinegar ratio and you can taste each grain.

Rating: 3.5/5.
The miso soup is included with an order of a bento box. There is a rich miso flavour along with a bit of tofu, green onion and seaweed. The soup tastes neither bland nor salty too.

Rating: 3/5.
The bento box includes california roll, deep fried dumpling, beef teriyaki, tempura, orange and salad. The california roll is light on the mayonnaise and the avocado tastes fresh. As for the deep fried dumpling, the skin is soggy and there is not much filling. The dumplings consists of mostly cabbage and vermicelli. The tempura however, has a light crisp batter (despite preferring the flaky kind more) and the selection incudes pumpkin, prawn, and potato. The ingredients taste moist and not overcooked.

Continuing along, the main attraction of the bento box is the beef teriyaki and a skewer. The beef tastes tender and the teriyaki sauce is fairly rich. The flavour is neither bland nor salty and there is a good consistency. Moreover, the bean sprouts have a rich char from the flatbed grill. As for the skewer, it consists of chicken and onion. The chicken tastes tender, the onion is caramelized, there is a nice char, and a tasty brush of teriyaki sauce.

Rating: 3.5/5.
Sushi Itshoni is the only Korean restaurant I have been to that serves the whole mackerel! The price is pretty much the same as other restaurants' and most restaurants serve only half the fish. The meat tastes moist and there is a nice smokiness from the skin.

Rating: 3.5/5.
The soup arrived boiling hot and bubbling like many Korean stews. There is a strong tofu and soy bean paste flavour, but does not taste salty. Most of the time I find soybean paste stews fairly salty. The soup also includes some medium sized tofu.

Rating: 2.5/5.
Unfortunately the gamjatang does not taste spicy, but there is lots of flavour from the spices and noticeably the perilla seeds. There is also a rich broth and a thickened consistency, despite the lack of flavour from the bones. Considering Toe Dam Korean is located in the same plaza as Sushi Itshoni, that restaurant does serve a better gamjatang. But regardless, there is a good amount of meat which tastes tender and the stew includes a whole russet potato rather than nuggets.

TOTAL: $71.05 + TIP $10.95 = $82.00.
Throughout our dinner, it seemed odd that the owners and staff were attentive as well as friendly. When I ordered hot water, one of the waitresses came back after a while and mentioned it may take long because the water has to be boiled. In addition, the owner even checked up on us. I found the welcoming atmosphere overall oddly suspicious and asked the owner if the restaurant is under a new ownership, which she responded yes. Moreover, she did not give a one word answer and walk away (which honestly has happened), but further mentioned Sushi Itshoni has been under a new ownership since June. She seemed to really want us to enjoy the smelt tempura too! As for the food, some of the dishes are better than others and there is no need to worry about the restaurant reusing garnishes anymore!

- Fresh sushi
- Friendly owners and staff

- Gamjatang is average
- Japanese items are higher priced

- New owners and management since June 2014
- Not sure why we have to pay at the counter if paying with cash

Food: 3/5
Service: 3.5/5

Sushi Itshoni on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Missvancouverpiggy!
    I've been lurking around your blog quite frequently for some time now. It's one of my favorite food blogs because I think my taste in food is similar to yours, and you post quite often! Which makes me you eat out very often and post in "real-time" or have you been taking photos of food for some time before blogging and are using restaurant visits from pre-blog times?
    Because it seems like you post >20 times/month on average and Sept 2013 even has 41 posts! Although no complaints because I enjoy them :D

    1. Thanks for your kind words Jessica! The posts on my blog are in "real time", give or take a few days. And I dine out on a daily basis but occasionally more than once a day. Before I started blogging, I actually rarely used to take photos of food too! Since we have similar tastes, would love for you to e-mail me some recommendations :)

  2. The nigiri is indeed so expensive but after reading your review it looks like it might be worth a try!

    1. Yeah, their sushi is worth a try but there are many Japanese restaurants that offer the same quality of food for the same price (at a nicer atmosphere too!) or lower prices such as Sushi & in Burquitlam.



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