Vancouver is known for its plethora of cheap sushi restaurants. I’ll be honest, some of them put me off due to their grungy look or their suspiciously low prices but I’m now a convert!

My father brought me one quiet day to Kin Sushi in West Vancouver to pick up some takeaway for our dinner. The tiny shop does have eat-in facilities though they’re very very basic. Most people come and get their order to go. While you can get lots of special rolls, we ordered their more basic combos – each of these was about $6 (with miso soup!). Here was a California roll, tempura yam (sweet potato) roll and tuna maki.

Combo B

This was a spicy combo – spicy salmon roll, spicy tuna roll and spicy dynamite (tempura prawn) roll. Of course, it’s not actually very spicy – there’s just a reddish sauce with a tingly heat mixed into the rolls.

Spicy Combo

I was surprised by how tasty they are – they’re already about 20 times better than the sushi one gets at the major chains in the UK (I’m looking at you, Itsu and Wasabi).

Kin Sushi
1760 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC V7V 1J1
Canada

Kin Sushi on Urbanspoon

The next week, I met up with one of my best friends, her husband and her daughter for dinner and they brought me to Sushi Town on Marine in North Vancouver. This restaurant was absolutely packed on a Saturday night and there was a 30 minute wait for a table for four.

And yes, the prices were amazing for what you get. This was a Double Dragon roll (about $8) – unagi on the inside and unagi on top too. Lots of eel!

Double Dragon Roll

We had the spicy tuna and salmon sashimi (about $9) with the spicy sauce on the side (rather than have it all mixed in – it can overwhelm the fish) and the portion size that arrived was extremely generous.

Spicy Tuna and Salmon Sashimi

My friends’ normal order always included the Awesome roll (approx $7) – it’s like a California roll but it’s topped with seared salmon, masago (flying fish roe), spring onions and bonito flakes and then the whole thing is drizzled with teriyaki sauce and spicy mayonnaise. It’s totally and awesomely over the top.

Awesome Roll

When the tonkatsu (about $8) arrived, I asked my friends whether they asked for one order or two. Yes, this is just one order. Two moist thin tonkatsu cutlets served with rice and salad – it’s big!

Tonkatsu

A single order of agedashi tofu (approx $4) was a large bowl of tofu cubes! The tofu wasn’t as silky as I like it but it’s still a solid dish.

Agedashi Tofu

Sushi Town
1227 Marine Dr.
North Vancouver, BC V7P 1T3
Canada

Sushi Town on Urbanspoon

Of course it’s not the finest sushi you can find in the city but for bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong at these restaurants. In general, I’m not a fan of the tuna served here (not sure what type it is) and I prefer the salmon. The fish is fresh, their sushi is tasty and creative (North American rolls are crazy and crazy good) and it’s all certainly a bargain. It definitely scratched my sushi itch.

It was our first night in Nagoya – my first night in Japan really! We had arrived early in the morning after a long flight from Frankfurt and after a post-lunch wander about, we all took naps and awoke quite refreshed and ready for dinner. From our hotel in quiet Fushimi, we strolled east to the Sakae district, full of restaurants and entertainment. We were heading to the ground floor of Oasis 21 (you can’t miss its gigantic oval glass roof), under the shadow of the Nagoya TV Tower, where we’d been directed by our concierge when we asked for kaiten-zushi – conveyor belt sushi. We wanted sushi, we wanted good stuff but we also wanted a bit of fun.

Nagoya TV Tower

We eventually found Nigiri No Tokube by my repeatedly asking “kaiten-zushi?” and then following the direction indicated by the random answerer. It worked!

We chose to sit at the counter rather than at a table and a spot cleared for us within 10 minutes. The first thing we noticed was the double decker conveyor belt arranging with the top deck for sushi plates and the bottom for clean empty tea cups. We helped ourselves to disposable chopsticks, green tea powder and hot water, wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger all arranged on the counter. Dishes could be picked up from the conveyor belt or ordered off the menu.

Double Decker Conveyor Belt

The sushi options ranged from the classic to the very modern (with lots of toppings) and we tried a bit of everything. One major highlight was this broiled prawn nigiri. I think the prawns had been drizzled with a bit of Japanese mayonnaise before being torched and the overall flavour was of a delicious deep smokey prawn.

Broiled Prawn Nigiri

From the special autumn menu we spotted a sardine tempura nigiri and sure enough we soon saw it come whizzing down the belt at us. These non-traditional little morsels were so good we ended up grabbing another plate.

Sardine Tempura Nigiri

From the menu again, we ordered some of our favourite classics: both unagi (freshwater eel) and anago (saltwater conger eel). Each was at the top end of the price range (380 yen each), which is still cheaper than the equivalent here in London. The unagi (on the left) was the more familiar with its charcoal grilled silkiness and thick sweet eel sauce; it’s relatively easy to find in London. The anago though was totally different (not necessarily better but just different) and even more silky (if that’s possible). What a great way to compare the two.

Unagi and Anago

And back to the novel nigiri we went. A little less exciting was this salmon nigiri with mayo and thinly sliced onions.

Salmon with Mayo and Onions

More exciting was this torched salmon nigiri with a creamy sesame sauce and fried shredded leeks. There really was something for everyone at Nigiri No Tokube.

Salmon with Sesame Sauce and Fried Leeks

I finished my meal with an order of a limited edition chawanmushi that was also being advertised for autumn. There were chestnuts, mushrooms, slices of fishcakes and other goodies hidden within the gloriously silky savoury egg custard.

The Autumn Chawanmushi

We all ate quite a bit that night (a lot more was consumed than just what you see above!) and the bill for each of us worked out somewhere between £10 and £20. Plates ranged from 120 to about 500 yen (when we went, it was 150 yen to the pound sterling) which I think is about the going rate for this quality of kaiten-zushi place (main menu here and here). Japan was certainly treating us well.

Nigiri No Tokube
Oasis 21
Sakae, Nagoya
Japan

Yashin Sushi is tucked away in the most unlikely of places – behind the Tesco Metro on High Street Kensington. A few blog posts alerted me to its existence (it only opened last month) and its blow torched sushi and I was keen to try it out, especially with its close proximity to my workplace. Two weeks ago, I met Rahul and Marco there for lunch and we sat at the sushi bar (in addition, they have one large table upstairs and a number of smaller ones downstairs with the bar) with great views of all that was going on sushi-wise. The sushi bar on the ground floor is, of course, the place to sit as you can see the sushi chefs at work and all the blow torch action in the middle. A neon sign above the chefs announces that the sushi comes Without Soy Sauce; it and wasabi are already added to the sushi by the chefs.

Blowtorching

Fish at the Sushi Bar

From the lunch menu, we all opted for the £30 Omakase Eight: eight pieces of nigiri and the roll of the day. Of all the lunch sets available, this one sat somewhere in the middle of the price range. First, a large teacup of miso soup with mushrooms started us off nicely, taking the chill out of our bones.

Miso Soup with Mushrooms

A salad with what I think was an onion dressing and garlic chips followed and that was quite delicious with plenty of dressing and chips to keep one entertained (how entertaining are plain leaves otherwise?).

Salad with Onion Dressing

The roll of the day turned out to be gorgonzola marinated tuna rolls. I’m sorry, but what?! The name alone had us silent in shock; my Italian friend raised a skeptical looking eyebrow. I watched as he put one roll in his mouth and began to chew very very slowly. He smiled! With that encouragement, I stuffed one of the massive maki rolls in my mouth too – the gorgonzola wasn’t overwhelming but it was certainly there, giving a bit of funkiness to the tuna mixture.

Omakase Eight (with roll of the day)

Onto the nigiri! Counterclockwise from the top right (because that’s the way it was all introduced to us!): yellowtail with sliced jalapeño, prawn with foie gras, sea bream with rice cracker, tuna, sea bass, fatty tuna, razor clam, and salmon with ponzu (?) jelly. Now, I don’t profess to be a sushi expert but it’s very clear that the fish and seafood are all of excellent quality and freshness so I won’t dwell on that; instead, I was surprised by the different and very unique toppings they chose to pair with them. The prawn and foie gras was quite the stunner; the slivers of blowtorched fatty liver just perfumed your mouth when you ate it. The razor clam (no topping) was another that truly surprised me, being extremely tender and flavourful. Surprisingly, my favourite may have been the yellowtail with the jalapeño, the chili a wonderful fruity complement to the fish. The only slight dud was the salmon with the tart jelly; the amount of jelly on top overpowered the fish and next time, I’d knock off about half of the topping. I do have to say that I’m not fond of their huge wedges of pickled ginger; the fibres got all caught in my teeth when I bit into them.

Omakase Eight (with roll of the day)

I returned with Blai a week later for lunch again. This time, it was his turn to try the Omakase Eight, which that day contained a few different pieces of nigiri to what we had the previous week. (The roll of the day was again the gorgonzola one – I suppose there’s a rota for the week.) He loved it all.

I wanted to try one of the more budget sets and so went with the Salmon set (£12.50) – five pieces of salmon nigiri (two were blow torched), all with a different topping (also served with the miso soup and the salad). As the restaurant was quite empty that day, we got our plates of sushi very quickly and so the blow torched pieces were still warm: they are wonderful when served immediately! (Previously, there was quite a wait as the chefs assembled a number of plates at a time and any textural difference due to the blowtorching was lost.) The nigiri were all excellent with my favourite toppings being the jalapeño and the garlicky ones.

Salmon Set

The roll accompanying my set was a spicy salmon inside-out roll which was perfectly pleasant even if it wasn’t spicy in the least.

As I thought it wouldn’t be enough food, I ordered a Soft shell crab roll (£5.90) from the dinner menu (also available at lunch time though these orders may take longer). Of course, it turned out that the salmon set is perfectly enough for lunch and this just took us over the top to belly discomfort. However, I cannot resist soft shell crab rolls and this one was pretty good – lots of the deep fried crab and flying fish roe, just the way I like it.

Soft Shell Roll

Despite feeling ridiculously full, Blai immediately perked up when he saw the dessert menu – only four different ice creams or sorbets were listed. There’s always room for ice cream! We shared the Shiso leaf sorbet (£4.90), which came with a small cupful of fruit salad. It’s certainly not a conventional flavour but the citrusy-herbalness of the sorbet was delicious and I loved its almost chewy texture.

Shiso Sorbet

This is definitely going to be my place to visit for lunch on a weekday when I feel like I need a treat! Not an everyday lunch for sure (I’d be broke!) but for the occasional treat, it’s just perfect. The dinner menu is longer and features a few small dishes (but the main thing is the sushi here) and as I mentioned before, is available at lunch time; they have a homemade tofu dish that I hope to try next time. Yashin may not be a traditional sushi joint but I like it!

Yashin Sushi
1A Argyll Road
(off High Street Kensington, behind the Tesco Metro)
London W8 7DB

Yashin Sushi on Urbanspoon

Thanks to a recommendation from Don, we headed to Sushi Yasuda for lunch one day. Reviews online seem to indicate that it’s quite difficult to get a reservation there but I managed to book a place for two at the counter for lunch on a Thursday only a week beforehand. I chose for us to sit at the sushi counter – and I highly recommend the same for you if you visit! We were the second group there for lunch and were seated in front of the first sushi chef of a row of them.

We chose to go with the sushi pre fixe menu ($22.50), which came with a soup or salad to start. This would give us five pieces of nigiri sushi and two maki sushi rolls all from a particular list. Each menu item had its own list. There is also the option to order by the piece or even to have an omakase meal, but we wished to walk out of there with our wallets intact. When we had made our selections (ticking off boxes on a little piece of paper), our counter space was set as such:

The Setup at the Sushi Counter

That leaf is a Hawaiian ti leaf and is where our sushi would be placed by the chef in front of us.

My lunch came with either a soup or salad and I chose the latter. What arrived was this small bowl of greens, beans and tomatoes with crispy, dried baby jako sardine. If you’re familiar with Malaysian food, you’ll know what I mean when I say they’re like smaller fried ikan bilis!

Salad

My five pieces of nigiri were the following: Spanish mackerel, freshwater eel, striped bass, egg custard, egg. I was very curious about the egg versus egg custard and the chef brought both out for me to see, explaining that while the egg custard is common in Japan, it’s less common outside it, and that Japanese people above a certain age tend to be very very picky about their egg sushi and then he suggested that I try both. So I ticked them both off on my sheet.

I was trying not to take photos and instead just sit back and enjoy but I couldn’t help it when such beautiful pieces were placed before me! This was my egg nigiri (huge and so the chef sliced it into two for me) and the freshwater eel. No other photos of the nigiri but a little soy sauce is already painted onto each perfectly sized piece and so it’s all ready to pop into your mouth.

Egg and Eel Nigiri Sushi

This was the best sushi I’ve ever had (ok, so I haven’t travelled to Japan yet). Honestly, the rice was the best part, still warm and so well seasoned. The fish was extremely fresh and the eel soft and flavourful. And the two eggs? The egg custard had been cooked with fish stock and other various ingredients and was smooth and almost creamy and utterly delicious and the egg was, apart from being a massive slab, slightly sweet omelette and was delightful upon the rice.

For my maki rolls, I chose tuna and salmon skin. When these were being made, the chef’s knife slicing them into pieces made wonderful crunching sounds thanks to the amazingly crisp nori.

Maki Sushi

The nori did turn out to be incredibly crisp and a wonderful contrast to the rice inside. The tuna was a white tuna and again was soft and fresh and the salmon skin was freshly fried and also quite crisp and salty. Delicious with a little dab of their homemade soy sauce.

While we were eating our sushi, our chef would chat with us and give us information about the sushi we were eating as well as about other pieces that were being made for the people around us. This was in stark contrast to the other sushi chefs who seemed to be the strong silent types made sushi for their customers at the counter but also for those seated at the tables. After his talking about it, we were seduced by a large box of sea urchin roe that was brought out for uni nigiri for a woman next to us. And so, to end our lunch, we each chose a piece of uni nigiri ($5) from the a la carte menu. It was topped with large flakes of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Again, fresh and salty and its texture was silky and sigh… it was a good ending.

Oh, and our sushi chef? He turned out to be Chef Yasuda himself.

The Man Himself

Sushi Yasuda
204 E. 43rd Street
New York, NY

Sushi Yasuda on Urbanspoon

And what good memories they were! I expressed to my best friend that I had never had all-you-can-eat sushi in Vancouver before and immediately, she sought to fix that. One night, we headed to Kisha Poppo on Davie that has an AYCE menu and we went prepared (read: empty stomachs). All the fish was very fresh and came in generous portions and the sushi was noticeably lighter on rice than at other places I’ve been. It’s not just sushi either as there are various tempura and bbq items on the menu and even ice cream for dessert. We ordered, and got through, a lot of food and here are the highlights.

Maki Sushi

Beef Tataki

Seafood Motoyaki

Hand Rolls

Sashimi Platter

OK, those of you in the UK will just about faint when I tell you the price – $18.95 per person. That’s less than £10! What a deal!

The rest of my photos from that dinner at on my Flickr photosteam.

Kisha Poppo
1143 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC
Canada

There’s another branch in Richmond, BC.