March 26, 2010 | | Comments 33

Yakko Sushi on Kingsway Near Metrotown, Burnaby

We had a great time in Portland. It was just a short 5-day spring break and was virtually unplanned. We just booked the hotel room without deciding on the actual itinerary and all. We wanted to check out the Portland food carts and came away having a different view having seen them. Most of them are just so-so ho-hum sort of operations — and dirty too, if I dare say. Instead, I found the variety of ethnic food a discovery.

When we got home on Wednesday, the PC would not boot! Believe it or not, we have 2 PCs and 2 notebooks at home. It had to happen to the main PC which we do our work … the beefiest of the lot with TBs of harddisk. That PC had been problematic for the past year with blown sink cooler, power supply and replaced the hard disk twice. This time we are not going to go through the hassle of fixing it. That two year old PC is telling us it wants to retire.

So, I went to get a new notebook yesterday … a beefier notebook with 8GB memory and 64-bit operating system. Oh boy, Photoshop ran very fast on the notebook. I am a happy camper now. I will spend the next few days transferring the hundreds of gigs of pix and get things back in order again before I get back to regular blogging.

Oh I digressed.

I had blogged about Yakko Sushi before. That was two years ago and I still remember that visit. We went there right after completing the Vancouver Sun Run.

This time I was there with LotusRapper. He is the most prolific commenter on chowtimes and had been following the site for four years. Suanne and I consider him to be a loyal supporter.

LotusRapper was raving about Yakko Sushi for a while. Yakko Sushi is located on Kingsway and across the street from Metrotown.

Yakko Sushi is small and cramp. The tables are mostly partitioned with tall wooden walls. Those partitions is the most telling thing that this is a Korean owned restaurant. I see these sort of partitions a lot in Korean restaurants. I guess Koreans like to eat in privacy.

Service is fast and polite. Come to think of it, Korean (and Japanese) waitresses are soft-spoken whereas Chinese waitresses are not usually like that.

They served us Miso Soup … for free! I like that.

Can you see what is “wrong” with the picture above? The Miso Soup came with a spoon in it. The Japanese would drink the soup right out of the bowl without using the soup spoon. As a custom, the Chinese would usually not encourage drinking directly from the bowl. I guess Koreans are like the Chinese too.

I remember when I was young, my mum used to chastise me for drinking soup directly from the bowl even when we are at home. So, I grew up feeling that it is uncivilized doing that … that is until when I started going to authentic Japanese restaurants and felt pretty cool slurping the soup directly from the bowl.

The menu though is Japanese. I find that the menu is pretty standard — even unimaginative. Not that it is wrong or something like that. I am saying this because I came expecting some really different, out of the ordinary food. LotusRapper set my expectations too high. LOL!

The menu is just what you will find in most Japanese restaurant but their prices are pretty … good.

My choice was the one I thought would be most different. The Donburi is $8-$9 depending on the meat used.

It came in a sizzling hot stone bowl and smell really good when it was served. The stone bowl is reinforced with a metal band which I guess helps the stone bowl from cracking from multiple use. The stone bowl was HOT. As careful as I exercised moving the bowl around, I found out how hot it really was.

The whole dish is dryish and I do find that rice is sticky. I understand that Japanese prefer the starchier short grain rice but it is my preference to have the rice fluffy.

What I got was the Unagi version which is $9. There were a lot of Unagis in the bowl.

LotusRapper had the Lunch Special Box. Guess how much that cost?

Is $7 cheap? How about $6? What if I say it is $5.99? I thought it was very cheap for what you get.

If you scroll up on this post back to the menu, it is the item on the right.

I did not ask what LotusRapper had to say about his choice. I knew he would comment, so why ask right? LOL!

Anyway, it was a productive lunch in that I managed to get another excellent volunteer to the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine project. Oh … I am getting so excited about the 8GTCC project. Much of everything is in place already. We just need to cross the t’s and dots the i’s and we are set for execution. If all things fall in place, we might even have a TV station covering the event!! April 10th is the date. Stay tuned.

Yakko Sushi Express on Urbanspoon

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  1. Marike says:

    So how was the Unagi donburi? Was it tasty? SO this place is good value for standard Japanese fare made by Koreans?

    Hmm, my family never discouraged us from drinking straight from the bowl. Maybe it depends on the family?

    Looking forward to 8GTCC! Any hints on the cuisine for the first meetup? ^_^

    • Ben says:

      Hi Marike: The Unagi Donuri was OK. There is really nothing that makes this Donburi any different from other places. And really, there is nothing one can make Donburi bad. You know what I am trying to say? The first 8GTCC event has a tentative date of 10-April. We should be able to confirm the date sometime next week after we had visited the restaurant to do a final scoping and polished up the write-up. We will make a proper announcements once we have everything firmed up. Hope to have you there at the event!
      Ben

  2. LotusRapper says:

    Ooops, sorry if I had set your expectations too high on Yakko, Ben. I mentioned before that Yakko is good value for the money (“best $5.99 lunch box in Metrotown area …..”), however they don’t win points for having any creative, exotic dishes.

    You know Kura and Tomoya are much much better in that regard :-)

    Actually Marike, I’ve had bad unagi, where they actually taste fishy and mushy in texture to the point I don’t even want to know how old are they or where they come from.

    Japanese don rice is sticky(ier) because the rice is of the japonica variety which is short-grained with a low amylosic index. Amylose is the starch that makes long-grained rice light and fluffy.

    • LotusRapper says:

      I didn’t mean the bad unagi came from Yakko. But from past experience, sushi restaurants run by non-Japanese (Banzai, Samurai, the “Kishu chain”) tend to have the worst unagis.

    • Ben says:

      Yeah, LotusRapper. I must say that Yakko is great value for money for sure. The food is pretty good too. Ben

      • Marike says:

        Yeah, the Kishu chains and Samurai/Banzai don’t have the best unagi. Also T&T too!

        I’ve always thought the same rice was used in donburi and sushi, is that right? And if so, it would have to be a stickier variety to hold together in sushi. Side note, I once tried to make congee using basmati rice (very loose and non-sticky)…did NOT work at all.

        • LotusRapper says:

          For sushi, cooked short-grain rice is mixed with a vinegar concoction of rice vinegar, salt and sugar (forget proportions). This mixture is eventually folded into the sushi rice before being used for sushi making.

          I’ve read there’s an extremely rigorous process for a proper traditional sushi chef to go through in their training before becoming “certified”. As a sushi apprentice, even the art of making the perfect rice may take several years.

          Interesting clip:

          http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Make-Sushi-Rice-1498

  3. Definitely ultra cheap! My local restaurant that serves lunch boxes like that could made it cost 10 dollars. You guys are lucky!

    I like the idea of the steam with the tea cup in the photo above.

  4. Nancy says:

    How about a dinner menu? Pretty similar? I was just in the area last night and pondered about it too as I walked past. Thanks for the post!

    • Ben says:

      Hi Nancy:
      I just found the menu of Yakko Sushi online.
      Check it out here: http://www.yakkosushi.ca/menu/
      The menu looks the same when I was there for lunch and so yeah, I think the dinner menu and lunch menu are the same.
      Ben

      • LotusRapper says:

        Ben,

        The link is to the “original” Yakko which still operates inside Station Square (between bus loop and the Future Shop), as indicated by the address:

        “#135E-6200 McKay Avenue Station Square at the Foot of Metrotown Skytrain”

        The first time I went to the said Yakko on Kingsway after their renovation and asked the server about the relation between the two, they said the two stores are associated by the owners but operate independently, and now each have different menus and prices.

        IMHO, the Station Square one is quite subpar and has been for years.

  5. Peter says:

    Ben: If you are serious about storage something like this could be networked to your computer http://usingwindowshomeserver.com/2009/05/24/in-depth-review-of-the-acer-aspire-easystore-h340-windows-home-server/

    • Ben says:

      Hi Peter:
      Whoa … that was serious stuff and sounded really expensive! But yeah, that’s the way to go eventually. I ended up with just getting another WD Book with USB3. Thanks for the recommendation!
      Ben

  6. Lee says:

    Try SushiGarden, like a block down.

  7. Eric says:

    I eat lunch here every Wednesday! I always have their lunch box and it gets me very full. Here’s my take on it:

    Miso soup: There are some cubes of tofu, some seaweed bits and of course miso soup. It’s always warm/hot, but I never finish it because I’ve never really a fan of them. Too salty.

    Salad: Lettuce, thin carrot slices, and caesar salad dressing (my best guess). They put too much sauce on it, so I always ask for little sauce now. It’s okay, nothing exciting.

    Chicken Wing Karage: 1 deep fried chicken wing and small drumlet. Not too much batter, always hot, seasoned perfectly. It’s not too salty or bland which is great.

    Sashimi: I always take the salmon sashimi choice. There are 3 large pieces of sashimi. Pretty good for the value. There was a small piece of bone though once. I didn’t choke/die/chipped a tooth so it’s all good.

    Tempura: 2 pieces of prawn, 2 pieces of yam and 1 piece of zucchini. Too much batter, but they are perfectly fried. Not overcooked at all and always hot.

    Beef Teriyaki: very large portons. Beef, of course, and some beans I forget the name at the bottom. Too much sauce, making it a bit too salty for my taste. It would go well with more rice.

    Rice: nothing spectacular. It’s rice. I’ll take it easy on it. Not undercooked. Wished there was more to eat the teriyaki with.

    Service: there’s one Japanese girl at lunch time so service is sorta hectic during the busy times (I only come here at lunch so I don’t know if they have more staff at different hours). She tries her best to get to everyone as quickly as possible, asks me every time how I like everything, refills tea pretty frequently and is polite.

    Overall: great place to eat lunch, seeing as I come here every Wednesday!

    I should probably try another place soon, but the price is very appealing. Any suggestions for restaurants in the Metrotown area? Not really into food courts, so inside Metrotown is off limits.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Eric:
      Two sushi places I like a lot within the Kingsway/Metrotown area is the Tomoya (see http://bit.ly/dCgRWX) and Asakusa (http://bit.ly/958Xhd). There is also the ever busy Sushi Garden too. Crystal Mall has lots of good restaurants too.
      Ben

    • LotusRapper says:

      I might have sat in the booth next to you once a while, Eric !

      Your description is bang on.

      I toggle between Yakko and Asakusa on the other side of Sussex, only because I like Asakusa’s tonkatsu better.

      BTW, the server at Yakko is Korean I believe, as are all their staff.

      What other types of restos in the MT area are you interested in ?

    • LotusRapper says:

      The beef/chicken teriyaki in the bento box isn’t bad, yes a bit too much sauce and I often ask them to ease off on the sauce cuz it is a wee bit salty (but I’ve had much worse elsewhere). The beansprouts at the bottom is kind of a filler, but at least balances out the veggie side of things ;-)

      I actually quite like their Cali rolls.

  8. Eric says:

    After going here for a good 2 months, I have some new comments about the food and also the restaurant itself:

    Beef teriyaki and salad: Because the sauce on both items is too much, I’ve ended up asking for no dressing for the salad and just mix the salad into the beef teriyaki. I personally don’t like salads so much, so by this way I can enjoy the vegetables.

    Cali roll: they were pretty good. I liked the black sesame seeds on top.

    Unaju: this is unagi on sushi rice. It was very good, plenty of unagi. If I’m not so hungry at lunch time, the portion size would be perfect.

    The restaurant itself is what a lot of my friends call “a hole in the wall”. I wish they would redecorate the front a bit to make it more appealing.

    During lunch, it can get pretty busy. The younger waitress is better than the older one because even though it’s busy, she takes the time to ask you how it’s going and give you more tea.

    • LotusRapper says:

      I haven’t been to Yakko since my last time there a couple of months ago ! Work has been super busy. When I do go away for lunch I’ve been driving out to farther venues like The One, Weng Shing, Sunflower Cafe etc.

      • LotusRapper says:

        I meant “Wen Xin” (on Rumble east of Royal Oak)

        • Ben says:

          Hi LotusRapper: Oh, you like Wei Xin? I tried it before but did not think much of it. It is Northern cuisine. Maybe we ordered the wrong food. BTW, did you see how busy the new Cattle Cafe on Kingsway is? There were lines waiting for a table for two days in a row already. Ben

          • LotusRapper says:

            Hi Ben,

            I know from chatting briefly with Wen Xin’s boss lady/owner that they are new owners, and IIRC they’ve been there for about a year(?). She says they’re northerners. Maybe I got lucky and ordered all the right things (ja jiang mein, braised pork belly w. preserved vegetables on rice, mapo tofu on rice) and were all executed well. I had the JJM just recently during the heatwave and it really hit the spot for me (noodles served cold and separate from the meat sauce).

            Problem is, their menu is diluted with some Taiwanese and Cantonese fare, as if trying to please all palates. BUT their S&W pork is darned good if you ask me.

            Did you go with Karl of TFL ? Haven’t dived into the northern dim sum yet, kind of hard when eating for one, Maybe you, Karl, Eric and I can do lunch there again ?

            • Ben says:

              No, I did not go with Karl. Karl for some reason fell off the face of the planet. :-) I went with my workmates. We can do lunch there anytime … just let me know when. Ben

        • Eric says:

          Sounds like a great idea. Ben has my e-mail so just name a time :)

          • Ben says:

            Eric, LotusRapper: Do we have a date? Has to be next week, lunch time. There are a few places we can go. Just came back from lunch at this new Korean restaurant next door to Akasuka (akusaka? akasuku? whatever) and it is pretty good. Had spicy noodles. A lot of customers … all Koreans. Ben

          • Eric says:

            Lunch next week sounds great. How does Monday sound? Can’t do Tuesday or Thursday. Sorry, I’m not really into Korean food, or Vietnamese and Thai… Anything else I’m good for.

            I know that you mentioned Cattle Cafe, have you been there? I’ve looked at the menu and it looks alright. What other suggestions do you have?

            • Ben says:

              I tried Cattle Cafe a few days ago. They are OK, we can do that if you want. It is quite stuffy in there and especially on a hot summer day. There is often a line-up for tables at lunch time, so we might need to be there early. Will follow-up offline. Ben

    • LotusRapper says:

      Glad you’re still liking them, Eric.

  9. [...] is the one called the Yakko Sushi Express on Kingsway which I had blogged about here. The Yakko Sushi Express restaurant is the bigger [...]

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