Saturday, July 11, 2009

Delicious cafe

Location - heading east on the 23, turn right at the Bowling center sign. The restaurant is on the left-hand side, before you get to the Sports/bowling center and Kitakaisen
Hours: approx 11:30-1:30 lunch, 6p- dinner, unsure which day closed
This new cafe has garnered lots of positive press recently. I was suspicious it may not live up to the hype on the basis of its sign, which proclaims "Let's try Japanese cuisine" (or something to that effect). A sushi (ie flamboyant rolled sushi) restaurant that tries so hard to cater to gaijin has already got one strike against it.
We decided to try it anyway. The interior has an unfortunate diner quality, with plastic booths and misapplied plastic frosting on the windows. There is large English menu on the wall, which is slightly different to the English menu brought to the table. At lunch, you order off the standard menu, and get a soup and salad with your sushi selection. Prices for rolls are 600-1300Y. We tried the deep fried California roll and the special of the day, which was a variety of Dragon roll. Sadly, both were almost inedible. The California roll had was filled with the cheapest and most dreadful fake crab stick, an overabundant helping of cream cheese, and underripe avocado, surrounded by excessively sweet rice, mushi nori, then seared on the outside to no apparent culinary advantage. Only slightly better was the dragon roll, which was pretty but simply not worth the calories. The inner part of the roll was a tempura shrimp, which seemed to have no flavour at all. This was surrounded by a large quantity of the over-sweet sushi rice and nori. On the top, outside of the roll, was a small and bland piece of maguro. All this was topped with way too much mayonnaise, another sweet sauce, orange roe, and flecks of tempura batter. There was almost no fresh fish flavour to the roll at all - instead it was just sugar, rice, and mayonnaise - three things I would not want to mix up in a bowl and eat. The accompanying ginger soup was mediocre, and the salad was your typical lettuce/cabbage but drowning in proprietary Japanese dressing.
It saddens me to write such a poor review of a local small business. Perhaps the owner will find success with his restaurant by giving the gaijin what they want - fat and sugar, with a small amount of fish thrown in for appearances. But if you are craving rolls, head elsewhere. We haven't been to Sushi Zen for a while, but last time we went the food quality was far superior.