Friday night I felt like eating sushi so le GF and I decided to try out Sushi Nanaimo. I had great expectations heading in because of all the rave reviews and 93% rating on Urbanspoon. However, at the same time I was a bit skeptical, since, judging by all the reviews, it seemed like they were just another sushi restaurant that focused on large portions for a decent price. In Vancouver there is a large market for these sushi restaurants, demonstrated by the success of places like Sushi Garden (I still eat there because of the good value) and Samurai (eughh…don’t even get me started…so gross), but I feel like the quality of the sushi suffers.
Anyways, this place gets pretty busy after 6:00, but GF was already in the area and got there before me. Although there were a lot of people waiting, she was seated within 10 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that this restaurant seemed to be mostly Japanese-run, given the abundance of Korean and Chinese-run sushi joints in Vancouver. Looking through the menu, I noticed that it was oddly similar to the one at Sushi Garden. When I checked online later, I found that they were almost identical; even most of the prices were the same (click links to see the proof). Well, that was weird. Moving on…GF doesn’t like raw fish so she ordered udon, but I ordered a variety of sushi so I could make a fair assessment of their sushi in general. GF’s tempura udon (I didn’t try any but she liked it) arrived quite quickly but my sushi took awhile to come; they must have been backed up with all the restaurant and take-out orders.
In order to sample a lot of nigiri, I got the DX Assorted Sushi ($16.95), which came with tako (octopus), salmon, tuna, ebi (cooked prawn), ika (squid), amaebi (sweet prawn), hokkigai (surf clam), chopped scallop, masago (flying fish roe), hamachi (yellowtail), unagi (eel) and tuna and salmon rolls. The nigiri were quite large (Sushi Garden size) and they all tasted fine. However, I didn’t find the quality to be extraordinary in any way. There was also too much rice (I didn’t eat it all) which makes it hard to eat. Traditionally, nigiri should be able to be eaten in one bite, but these would take at least two. The fish was not super fresh or anything and didn’t set itself apart from the sushi at Sushi Garden.
I also wanted to try one special roll, so I ordered the Awesome Roll ($6.95), which is a california roll topped with salmon then baked and topped with your choice of fried shoestring yam and potato or bonito flakes, finished off with a soy-based sauce and chili mayo (I think). I got it topped with the fried yam and potato. I thought that this was just okay, so it didn’t live up to its name. I’m not a big fan of california rolls and all the sauce and fried yam/potato made it difficult to taste the salmon. This was really big though, and with all the other sushi I was quite full after barely finishing everything.
Overall, the sushi was all decent but nothing was super awesome and it didn’t really live up to the hype (always seems to be the case). This is a good place for cheap, big sushi and I would be fine eating here again or ordering take-out, but this isn’t the place to go if you want high-quality, ultra-fresh sushi.
Food: 3 out of 5
Service: 2.5 out of 5
Ambiance: 2.5 out of 5
Value: 3.5 out of 5
My Rating: 3 out of 5
(0 = I would rather die, 0.5 = torturous, 1 = terrible, 1.5 = bad, 2 = no good, 2.5 = very average, 3 = above average, 3.5 = good good, 4 = very good, 4.5 = near perfect, 5 = I can die in peace)