Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Temaki Sushi

Temaki Sushi is a Chinese and Vietnamese operated Japanese cuisine restaurant, but I had high expectations walking in. You see, I was trying to find a follower on my Instagram and stumbled upon @temakisushii. His cute garnishes of carrot pagodas drew my attention and I could not believe the restaurant is located in Vancouver! I have not seen many chefs in Vancouver make cute garnishes including at higher end Japanese restaurants, so I decided that Temaki Sushi warranted a visit.

We were at the front for a bit and despite some of the waitstaff staring at us, we were not helped until later. The first question a waiter asked was, "do you have reservations?". Upon hearing this, I squealed in my head and believed that Temaki Sushi could be one of the best Japanese restaurants and perhaps a busy one which requires reservations all the time. The restaurant has a few suitable seating arrangements for larger parties and the dining area is not too cramped.

After seating, the menus and tea were impatiently placed on the table but the service warmed up after we started ordering. There were around five waitstaff at the front and during busier times, everyone made their way around refilling drinks. The staff were also friendly.

KAKI MISO, "Fresh kusshi oysters baked with spinach, mushroom and motoyaki sauce" ($6.50).
Rating: 2.5/5.
Temaki Sushi offers fresh oysters instead of canned, which is always a plus. The sauce has a light flavour and does not taste overwhelmingly rich, but the oyster tastes dry. The spinach and mushroom do not have much impact either compared to other restaurants'.

Throughout our dinner, the food expedition was great. We were seated at a two person table and the small table size was not an issue because only a couple of dishes arrived at once, which is very appreciated!

Rating: 1.5/5.
The selection of deluxe sashimi includes toro, hamachi, amaebi, sockeye salmon, tako, hokkigai, tuna tataki and four pieces of salmon toro. Since when is salmon toro "deluxe"? Salmon toro is reserved for rolls, spicy salmon or seafood udon, but some restaurants offer nigiri options for those who request. Despite not liking salmon toro however, the sashimi tastes slightly warm and the slices are very small. The slices are literally half the length of my pinkie.

As for the toro, we asked if the toro was fresh and made sure to mention that we have had dry toro before and wanted to confirmed again if the sashimi was fresh. The waitress confirmed and mentioned the toro is always fresh, but this is not the case. The toro sashimi tastes dry and lacks that rich buttery fattiness. Next, the waitress also mentioned "the hamachi just flew in" when we were ordering, but again this is not the case. The hamachi does not taste fresh, the oxidized portion appears to be removed, and I cannot help but feel tricked. There is a hint of a hamachi flavour and the sashimi has not "gone bad", but is neither fresh.

Continuing along, the sockeye salmon has that natural lean flavour and tastes average. Following, the tako is sliced nice and thin so the pieces do not taste too chewy. As for the hokkigai, there is a mild lime flavour due to the garnish and the excess water was not squeezed out which resulted in a watery flavour. Coming close to the end is the tuna tataki, which is evenly seared and tastes fresh. The tataki is a proper sashimi cut which exhibits more flavour and is topped with fried garlic chips along with a touch of green onion. Saving the best for last is the amaebi. The large butterflied amaebi tastes fresh and has that natural sweetness. Furthermore, the heads are fried and the edible portion is slightly exposed so there is no digging required (which many restaurants do not do, yay!).

UNI SASHIMI ($12.99).
Rating: 3/5.
The uni sashimi includes four pieces and tastes fresh (as packaged can get). The sashimi also includes seaweed which unfortunately tastes soft, borderline being almost soggy. Furthermore, the pricing is strange because an order of uni sashimi costs $12.99 and includes 4 pieces. However, an order of nigiri is $3.00. Why does sashimi cost $1.00 more if it is the same portion as nigiri? Moreover, there is no rice included too!

Rating: 2.5/5.
The deep fried prawns are skewered and as the name suggests, the shell is very soft. The prawns are dry and taste stiff however, but the seasoning is not heavy on the salt.

HAMACHI ($2.95), SALMON ($1.75), TUNA ($1.75) AND TORO ($2.00).
Rating: 2/5.
Beginning with the hamachi, the nigiri is a disappointment like the deluxe assorted sashimi. Our waitress asked if we wanted the "regular" hamachi or "belly" and we mentioned the regular, which is not the case. The hamachi lacks in flavour since it is not fresh and is missing the back portion. Following, the salmon lacks that butteriness but is neither an end piece nor as warm as the salmon toro. As for the tuna, the sashimi consists of the perfect upper body portion cut and tastes fresh. However, the toro is not good. The toro does not taste fresh and is fairly dry.

AMAEBI ($3.50) || Rating: 3.5/5
TAMAGO ($1.50) || Rating: 3/5
Moving towards the better orders of nigiri, the large amaebi tastes sweet and fresh. Last up, the housemade tamago tastes soft and has a controlled level of sweetness. There is more color than I usually prefer, but how many restaurants really make their own tamago! As for the rice throughout the nigiri, it is well cooked and has a good balance of vinegar. The formation was squeezed slightly too hard however.

NABEYAKI UDON, "Beef, chicken, tempura and egg" ($10.99).
Rating: 1/5.
The nabeyaki udon includes tender slices of beef, over deep fried chicken which tastes dry and exhibits a very crunchy skin, broccoli, carrot, and an egg. The broth tastes one dimensional and is very sweet. In addition, the broth was not hot enough and the yolk did not have a chance to even slightly cook. As for the tempura, the prawns are heavily battered and are not the flaky variation.

TOTAL: $90.70 + TIP $10.30 = $101.00.

Temaki Sushi overall was disappointing because of the aforementioned issues. Honestly, I really had high expectations. We even joked about going to Kisokoma instead of Temaki Sushi as a cheap but good quality sushi fix! Little did we know we should have… But with that being said, I may consider revisiting in the future because I tagged @temakisushii on an Instagram photo (which I have only done once with Bao Bei and never received a response) and he acknowledged my comment while also mentioning he will try in further improving.

- Good food expedite
- Cute garnishes on Instagram
- Great lighting, my photos look so good!

- Misinforming waitress
- Hamachi, toro and salmon belly were not fresh
- Poor selection and quality regarding the deluxe sashimi
- Lack of service when the restaurant died down

- One of the few restaurants with in-house tamago
- Looking through photos on Instagram and Temaki Sushi's geotag, why is the selection of assorted sashimi better than the deluxe?

Food: 2/5
Service: 2.5/5

Temaki Sushi on Urbanspoon

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