Bento Sushi – UBC

During a trip to Boston a few weeks ago, I was walking through the Toronto airport looking for something to eat. One of the spots that I passed by was Bento Sushi. They are a fast food sushi place that’s apparently got a number of locations throughout North America. While I didn’t visit the spot at the aforementioned Toronto airport, there is another Bento Sushi that’s located at UBC, right next to the Sauder Building. I decided to check the joint out recently. The menu they have seem to be more limited: they have noodles, rice bowls, and of course, various sushi rolls. I got their Rice Bowl with Grilled Chicken and Pork Gyoza.

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Bento Sushi

Rice Bowl with Grilled Chicken ($8.99):

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Rice Bowl with Grilled Chicken

2.5/5
They have several varieties of rice bowls; I had their grilled chicken variety. I’m pretty sure that the food was already premade and reheated in the microwave. The chicken appeared to be white meat and was covered in a teriyaki sauce. It was fairly tender, and I did actually enjoy the teriyaki sauce; however, it just isn’t the same as freshly grilled, skin-on chicken. The rice was fairly good though.

Pork Gyoza ($4.99):


2/5
Again, the gyozas were premade and reheated in the microwave. The skin was, of course, not crispy and somewhat gummy in places. I wasn’t a big fan of the pork filling either, which had a pretty strong garlic taste.

I’m generally not particularly picky when it comes to fast food, but I really didn’t enjoy my visit to Bento Sushi. The food was just passable, and the prices weren’t really much cheaper than an actual restaurant with made-to-order fare. I honestly cannot recommend this spot to anyone: quite frankly, I think that McDonalds is a better choice.

Summary:
Food: 2.5/5
Price: 2.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 2.5/5
Recommendations: N/A
Bento Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Marulilu Cafe

While I’m typically not the biggest fan of sushi, I do really like Japanese-Western style cafes. Recently, I had the opportunity to check out Marulilu Cafe, which is located on Broadway, right across from the skytrain station. They have a very large menu of various Japanese fare as well as Western food. You order at the front counter and they bring the food to your table. I had their Breakfast Plate C.

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Menu

Breakfast Plate C w/Waffle ($11.99):

3.5/5
This comes with 2 small waffles, 2 eggs, 2 hashbrowns, and your choice of either bacon, ham or sausage; I had the sausage. The waffles were served with syrup and whipped cream. I did find them to be a little too dry and dense for my liking. The eggs and sausage were standard. I really enjoyed the hashbrowns though, which were very crispy.

I’m very glad to have checked out Marulilu Cafe. While the food didn’t blow me away, it was still very good, and very reasonably priced. Even though there wasn’t really much service per se, the staff was also very friendly. I definitely recommend checking this place out. Just be warned: seating is limited, so you might need to wait if you go at peak hours.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Breakfast Plates
Marulilu Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kisokoma

I’m not a sushi eater. However, I do still enjoy Japanese food like karaage and teriyaki. I was actually having a craving for the latter dish recently, so I decided to visit Kisokoma. This is a small Japanese joint located on Broadway, not far from the Vancouver General Hospital. They have quite a large menu of the fare that you’d typically expect from such a joint, including sashimi, sushi, and cooked food to suit all tastes. I had their Chicken Teriyaki and Deep-Fried Gyoza.

Chicken Teriyaki ($8.95):


3/5
This comes with a small bowl of rice and miso soup. The chicken itself was, by virtue of white meat, quite tender and juicy, and had a nice crispy skin. I personally would have liked the teriyaki sauce to be a tad sweeter, but it was still flavourful. I did find the meat to be a little lacking. I quite enjoyed the rice too, which had a nice chewy texture. The portion wasn’t very large, but for $9, it is fair.

Deep-Fried Gyoza ($3.95):


3/5
This was filled with a pork and vegetable filling. The skin outside had a pretty nice crispy texture. The filling was tender and juicy; I did find it to be a bit too bland, however.

I wasn’t blown away by the food from Kisokoma, but it was still fair. The prices are very affordable. While I wasn’t blown away by the joint, I think that it’s still decent enough to warrant a visit.

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 5/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: N/A
Kisokoma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sakura Cafe

Sakura Cafe is a small Japanese/Asian-style cafe located on Burrard, just a short distance from Broadway. They have a menu of various breakfast and lunch items, as well as a large variety of drinks. I had a Matcha Latte and Breakfast B, which consists of pancakes, eggs, and sausage.

Matcha Latte ($4.35):

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Matcha Latte

4/5
The latte had a great fragrance from the matcha. It was smooth and creamy, and had a wonderful, slightly bitter flavour.

Breakfast B ($7.99):

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Breakfast B

3.5/5
This consisted of two pancakes, two scrambled eggs, and turkey sausage. The pancakes were relatively light and fluffy. The eggs were quite fluffy and creamy. The sausage was flavourful, and had a nice spice to it.

I enjoyed my visit to Sakura Cafe. The food was solid; the prices were also very reasonable. The service was minimal, but the staff was very friendly. All in all, this is a joint that I’d definitely recommend checking out. They do have quite a limited number of seats however, so catch them at a less busy time or have your food to go.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Matcha Latte, Breakfast B
Sakura Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Guu Otokomae

Eating out with other people has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage (in addition to having the company of your friends, of course) is that you get to order more dishes without raising any questions from the staff. The disadvantage is that I’ve got less say over which dishes to order. Such is the case when I visited Guu Otokomae with a couple of my friends over the weekend. This is one of several establishments of the Guu franchise, a popular Japanese Izakaya in Vancouver. We went there during lunch time. In addition to tapas, they offer lunch sets (I cannot remember the exact prices for them, but they’re around $10). After much debate, my friends decided share two lunchsets (“Curry Chicken” and “Grilled Mackerel”) and some tapas (Negitoro Garlic, Spicy Calamari, and Chicken Kara-Age), the latter two of which I pushed for since I do love fried food.

Negitoro Garlic ($8.90):

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Negitoro Garlic

N/A
This consisted of chopped tuna and avocado and is served with garlic baguette. I wasn’t able to eat the tuna since I’m allergic to avocado, but I did have a slice of the baguette, which was crispy and buttery.

Spicy Calamari ($8.90):

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Spicy Calamari

4/5
This was deep fried squid served in a spicy tomato sauce. The tomato sauce had a great flavour, being tangy with just a slight bit of heat. The squid was a bit soggy from the sauce, but that didn’t bother me much.

Chicken Kara-Age ($8.90):

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Chicken Kara-Age

3.5/5
This consisted of pieces of boneless deep-fried chicken, and is served with hot & sour onion sauce and garlic mayo. The chicken was dark meat, and was thus tender and juicy, with a great crispy coating. The meat was a bit underseasoned and bland on its own, but did taste good with the garlic mayo.

“Curry Chicken” Lunch Special (around $10):

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“Curry Chicken” Lunch Special

3.5/5
This consisted of grilled chicken with curry sauce, rice, and salad. The chicken was dark meat, and was thus quite tender and juicy, although underseasoned and bland. The curry was thick and had a nice bit of heat, but I did find it to be a bit too salty.

“Grilled Mackerel” Lunch Special (around $10):


2.5/5
This came with a side of rice and miso soup. The mackerel was tender and well-seasoned. Unfortunately, it did have a rather unpleasant, fishy scent, which turned me off.

In spite of my general reluctance to eat out with others, I had a very good time with my friends at Guu. The food, while not outstanding, is still quite good and the prices are reasonable. The service is also friendly. This is a great place to visit with a couple of buddies to share some tapas.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Spicy Calamari, Chicken Kara-age
Guu Otokomae Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Only Cafe

After my visit to Cafe Lokal for some food, I headed over to The Only Cafe, which was located just a few doors down. They are an Asian/Japanese-style cafe located in Kits, on 4th Avenue. In addition to serving up various drinks, both hot and cold, they have various sandwiches and baked goods. I had a Matcha Latte, Japanese Cheesecake, and Matcha Pound Cake.

Matcha Latte ($4.75):


4/5
The latte was actually not sweet at all, but was slightly bitter with a creamy texture. It had a pretty good matcha flavour, which was quite impressive seeing that most matcha-flavoured drinks tend to be a little weak.

Japanese Cheesecake ($4):


3/5
The cake was more light and yogurt like compared to NY cheesecake. The filling was creamy and tangy, but a bit lacking in flavour and gummy in some areas. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the crust beneath, which was a bit grainy.

Matcha Pound Cake (around $4-5):


3.5/5
The cake was a bit hard, but still tasty and had a mildly sweet flavour. The matcha flavour was a bit weak, but that is kind of expected from most matcha-flavoured desserts.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of their cheesecake from The Only Cafe, I enjoyed the pound cake and was impressed by their latte. The staff was friendly and the prices were fair. This is definitely worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Matcha Latte, Matcha Pound Cake
The Only Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jiu Jiang Japanese Restaurant

Sushi is just one of the things that everyone loves that I just can’t stand. I don’t like the taste of raw fish at all, and while I do enjoy California rolls, unfortunately I have discovered that I’m allergic to avocadoes (and avocado rolls without avocado isn’t really worth it imho). Fortunately, there’s still a good menu of other food at Japanese restaurants that I do like and can still enjoy: teriyaki, karaage, takoyaki, ramen, etc. Lately, I’ve been craving for some fried Japanese fare, and decided to check out Jiu Jiang. They are a small but tidy Japanese (although the name is Chinese, and at least a few of the staff speak Mandarin) shop located in Kerrisdale, near 41st Avenue. They have a pretty good menu consisting of popular Japanese dishes, both cooked and sushi/sashimi. I had their Takoyaki, Chicken Karaage, and Chicken Teriyaki & Egg Fried Rice.

Takoyaki ($5.25):

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Close up of Takoyaki

3.5/5
The takoyaki had a crispy exterior and was soft and creamy on the inside. I didn’t really get that much ocotopus inside, but that was fine since I don’t really care that much for octopus.

Chicken Karaage ($7.25):

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Close up of Chicken Karaage

4/5
This was actually more similar to the Taiwanese-style chicken vs. the Japanese style. I was quite impressed by the chicken: the pieces were large, tender and juicy. It was well-seasoned and flavourful, and had a great crispy exterior.

Chicken Teriyaki & Egg Fried Rice ($10.95):


3.5/5
This consisted of fried rice that’s topped with chicken teriyaki. I was a bit disappointed by the chicken to be honest: I found it to be a little anemic and lacking in grilled flavour, and also lacking in teriyaki sauce, although the meat was still seasoned. I really enjoyed their fried rice however, which was very well cooked and well-seasoned/flavourful. It came with a bowl of miso soup, which was just standard.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Jiu Jiang. Their food was tasty and very reasonably priced. The service, while not the most personable, was quite attentive and polite. I’d definitely recommend checking this spot out, even if you’re a weirdo like me that doesn’t like sushi.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Chicken Karaage, Egg Fried Rice
Jiu Jiang Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tatsu Japanese Bistro

To keep this one short, my mom’s birthday has arrived and she specifically told me that she wanted to eat sushi rolls, the fancy kind with seafood and avocado (which I’m actually allergic to, but who cares, I’m not a huge fan of sushi anyways). Being a completely home-bound recluse who doesn’t go more than 5 blocks out of the house, I had to resort to ordering takeout. I decided to try out Tatsu Japanese Bistro, which is a Japanese place located on Commercial Drive. I ordered three of their special sushi rolls: Prosciutto, Bull’s, and Lobster. I also got some food for myself, including their Kushiyaki Platter, Teriyaki Chicken, and Loco Moco.

Kushiyaki Platter, 6 pcs ($13.95):

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Kushiyaki Platter, 6 pcs

3.5/5
This came with two skewers each of chicken, shrimp, and bacon scallop. My favourite was actually the chicken, which was tender, juicy, and very flavourful. The shrimp was a bit on the bland side. The bacon had a nice smoky flavour, although the scallop was (as expected), quite small.

Teriyaki Chicken ($9.95):

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Teriyaki Chicken

3.5/5
I was a bit disappointed to see that the chicken didn’t come with any skin. The meat was still tasty however, being tender and juicy, with a nice smoky grilled flavour. It was a tad on the bland side however

Loco Moco ($9.95):

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Loco Moco

3.5/5
This consisted of either a beef or pork patty (I picked pork) on rice, and is served with rice, a fried egg, veggies, and sauce. The patty was quite tender and juicy, and had a nice flavour. The egg was slightly runny in the middle. I did find the sauce to be a tad tangy however.

Prosciutto Special Roll ($11.50):

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Prosciutto, Lobster, and Bull’s Special Roll

N/A
This came with mango, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese and prosciutto. I didn’t have this since I’m allergic to avocado; my mom quite enjoyed it though (she loves prosciutto).

Bull’s Special Roll ($11.95):
N/A
This came with ebi tempura, teriyaki beef, crab, cucumber, lettuce, and tempura crisps. I actually wanted to try this roll, but unfortunately it does come also with avocado (though not listed in the description). But my mom really enjoyed it; this was actually her favourite of the three rolls.

Lobster Special Roll ($15.95):
N/A
This came with barbecue lobster meat, asparagus, avocado and cucumber. Again, I wasn’t able to try this roll, but this was actually my mom’s least favourite of the three. The lobster meat that they give you is apparently from the claw, which most people don’t like.

Although I haven’t visited Tatsu, the food that I had received from delivery was quite solid. Their prices were also fairly reasonable. All in all, a decent place for some Japanese fare.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Kushiyaki Platter, Bull’s Special Roll
Tatsu Japanese Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe de L’Orangerie

So I’ve learned a new word today: orangerie. Apparently, back in the day, when oranges are apparently a luxurious commodity, rich people who had nothing better to spend their money on, decided to create rooms dedicated to the storage of oranges.

Cafe de L’Orangerie, however, did not appear to have anything to do with storing oranges. Rather, they are a cute cafe in Marpole serving up a menu consisting of Japanese and Japanese-Western fusion food. I had their Appetizer Chicken Nanban, Croquette, and Spaghetti Carbonara (with Hamburger Steak).

Appetizer Chicken Nanban ($8):


3/5
This consisted of a chicken filet that has been deep fried and is coated in a sweet and sour glaze, and is served with a side of tartar sauce. The chicken itself is white meat, and as such, it’s quite tender and juicy. It was also quite flavourful. However, I did find there to be way too much skin/batter and too little meat; moreover much of the skin was not crispy, but rather soggy and chewy.

Croquette, 2 pc ($6):


3.5/5
The exterior was quite crunchy and crispy. The filling consisted mostly of rice and potato with bits of edamame and ground pork mingled within. It is served with a sauce; I did find the sauce to be a bit too salty however, with the filling being flavourful enough on its own.

Spaghetti Carbonara + Hamburger Steak ($12 + $4):


3.5/5
The spaghetti was tender, while still maintaining some texture, and is tossed in a cream sauce that contained bacon and mushrooms, and was quite savoury and flavourful on its own. The hamburger steak was tender and juicy, albeit a tad bland. I was pleasantly surprised by the portion, which I found to be quite generous for the price.

Although the food at Cafe de L’Orangerie didn’t exactly blow me away, I did still quite enjoy all their food. The prices were very reasonable, especially since they provide quite generous portions. The service was also good: the food came quickly and the staff was quite friendly and attentive. This is definitely worth a visit.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Croquette, Spaghetti Carbonara
Cafe de l'Orangerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

I love instant ramen. By far my favourite is that Korean brand Nongshim both for their great spicy flavour and their thick, bouncy noodles. I used to stock up boxes of their ramen. I’ve easily consumed over a thousand bags of ramen in my life.

As much as I enjoy instant ramen however, I’ve actually never been to be Japanese ramen shop. It’s not that I’ve got anything against non-instant, artisanal, “authentic” (a word that I personally don’t believe in) ramen, I’ve just never gotten around to it. Wanting to change this, I decided to visit the Broadway location of Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (they have a 2nd location on Robson). I’ve had their Miso Cha-shu Ramen, which I upgraded to a large size for an additional $1.

Miso Cha-shu Ramen ($13.80 + $1 for Large):

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Large Miso Cha-shu Ramen


4/5
The bowl was filled with ramen noodles and broth that’s topped with cha-shu pork and vegetables (woodear mushrooms, green onions and bamboo shoots). The noodles had a great bouncy texture. I loved the broth, which was rich without being oily and very savoury, and had a nice fragrance from ground sesame. There were five generous pieces of pork, which although a bit chewy, was still reasonably tender and had a good ratio between lean meat and fat. While I did find the cha-shu to be a bit bland on its own, it tasted fine when eaten with the noodles and broth. Even though the bowl didn’t look particularly big, the rich broth and generous amount of noodles made it quite filling.

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I had to get all of that delicious broth

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. Yes, you may shell out much more than the $1 you do for instant ramen, but the taste and quality does make up for it. The staff are quite friendly and attentive, and frequently call to each other in Japanese. The place does get busy however; being a single diner I was able to get a seat by the bar quite easily, but the tables do get full, so be prepared for a wait if you’re going in a group. All in all, I was quite impressed by this restaurant, and I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Ramen (duh!)
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato