Okonomi Sushi on Columbia and 4th Street, New Westminster

We get quite a number of restaurant recommendations via email. You all probably know that already.

Just so you know too, we are careful about recommendations especially when it came from people we do not know. Who knows right? It could be someone related to a restaurant trying to get us to visit and write about the restaurant. We have to be careful because increasingly, we get feedback that people visiting places after they are featured on chowtimes.

Well, we do check all the reviews available of the recommended restaurant on the internet. We tend to ignore any reviews done by one-off reviewers and trust reviews by people who had contributed a lot of reviews.

So when Tyler sent us an email out of the blue telling us about Okonomi Sushi, the first thing I did was to check Dinehere.ca. I did not quite like the reviews … many 1-off reviews with 5-star ratings and the only review highly-credible review (Bonka with 373 reviews on dinehere!) rated Okonomi with an average score.

But we went nevertheless.

And we found Okonomi as “interesting” as Tyler described it. This is surely not the traditional sushi house everyone is familiar with.

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From the outside, many people will probably not aware that there is a sushi house. All you see is a small 2 feet tall sandwich board that says Sushi Okonomi, which people may at a glance thinks it says “Economy Sushi”. They have a small round lighted sign but it is mounted so high on the wall that many people would have probably missed that too.

It is located just outside the Columbia Skytrain station. Getting off the station onto 4th Street, it is just to your right.

So what is so different with Okonomi Sushi. Let me sum it up with a few words … wine glasses, sofas, classical music, purple sushi, kneeling waitresses, cheap prices, large portions.

In short, I think this restaurant will invite scorn from the sushi purists. I also think this restaurant is a fun place for those in search for out of the ordinary experiences — the good and the bad. LOL!

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Walking in, the first thing that struck us is the musty smell. It wasn’t bad but it is noticeable especially having walked in from the street. It is like walking into an old building (which this is an OLD building). It must be the carpet.

The place is spacious. I am not sure what this place used to be. It doesn’t seem like it is configured to be a restaurant. Maybe it is a hotel lobby or something. But it sure is spacious and the tables sparsely arranged.

The music … it is very loud and it is classical. Strange, I thought but it sets the mood. Decorations are tacky … paper lanterns, paper umbrellas and paper fans. Take away these paper decors, yeah … it does look like it’s just a hotel lobby.

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We asked to be seated at the sofa. It is not really conducive for dining but it’s fun to do this for a change. The sofa is just too low and too deep. It is nice to be able to sit back for a chat after the meal … that’s what this is good for.

I thought the table was too small for the sofa. The length was shorter than the length of the sofa. It make me think that they might have tried to mix and match whatever is available to them.

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Window seat too … overlooking the Columbia Street and getting a glimpse of the Fraser River.

To think that New West used to be the capital of British Columbia, today it is one of the more depressed cities in Metro Vancouver.

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You ask for water, you get it served in wine glasses. Nice.

Service is very nice and polite but understaffed. There was just two waitresses working the entire floor. What stunned me was when they came by the tables, they kneel. Maybe it’s because the tables and sofa are lower than normal and they did not want to “tower” over the customer.

Ah … remember this post I made the past few days? (updated 27th Oct 2014; link to post does not exist anymore)  … About how waitresses get more tips if they briefly touch the customer or kneel next to the table? You reckon they read chowtimes? LOL!

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The waitress came by several times asking if we are ready to order.

“Not yet”

Their menu is huge with 200 items or so. It is interesting and we needed time to sort out what we need to order … you know, regulate what Arkensen and Nanzaro order so that we don’t all end up with California rolls.

First question I asked: “Are you Japanese?”

“No, Koreans”, the waitress smiled. Sweet smile, I must say. Pretty smile, I must add.

Second question: “Are you newly opened?”

“Four months only”.

I thought it was pretty good considering the number of customers they already have. I want to add that the vast majority of their customers are Caucasians. Makes me think this is a westernized sushi house. I am just calling this out because I know some readers are sushi purists (snobs? LOL!) and this is something they want to know.

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The Okonomi Complete Meals is the section which we focused on. They are set meals costing between $12 to $16 mostly. They are pretty good selection (see the second image of the menu from the left).

The Okonomi’s Complete Meals comes with edamame and miso soup …

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… and Chawanmushi.

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And the Chawanmushi is … (more…)

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