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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
The waitress came by several times asking if we are ready to order.
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.
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 …
… and Chawanmushi.
And the Chawanmushi is … pretty good too. It is steamed egg with prawns.
I like that because not many places give you this as part of the meal combo.
I ordered the “Special Assorted Combo B” which is $16. It included the miso soup, the edamame and the chawanmushi above.
Two pieces of Chicken Karage and Salad. The chicken was good … nicely deep fried and full of flavour.
More … it also included:
- Salmon Nigiri (1 pc)
- Tuna Nigiri (1 pc)
- Salmon Sashimi (2 pcs), and
- Tuna Sashimi (2 pcs)
They are not exactly the best we had but salmon is salmon and tuna is tuna. At least they are big.
These was supposed to me mine. Arkensen and Nanzaro thinks it’s theirs. They swept the whole plate clean and left one small piece of tuna for me … the one that was “contanimated” by wasabi.
The mystery of the purplish rice. I just have to know WHY!
The waitress told us that the color came from cabbage juice, and NOT coloring. Now you know. Have you come across purplish rice like this before?
And to roundup my $16 combo set, I get to choose a special roll.
I randomly chose one of their specialty roll … and got this thing called the Rocky Mountain Roll.
OMG, I was not sure if I like that. The sushi rice is purplish and it is topped with cheese sauce.
Here is the ingredients: Immitation Crab Meat, cucumber, Avocado, top with Special Cheese Sauce & Parmesan Cheese, Wrapped in Special Sauce and Tempura Flake.
I tried to get Arkensen and Nanzaro to help me because the roll is so big but they said “no thanks, dad”.
I tried to reason with them …
“You like sushi right?” … “Yeah”
“You like cheese right?” … “Yeah”
“But why not sushi with cheese?” … “Because”.
The sushi is sweetish. Suanne said that this is a “dessert roll” … that’s what it is.
Since I could not trade this with the boys, I know someone who would trade with me.
“Honey, you like dessert, don’t you?”
Suanne is a sweet wife.
Nanzaro ordered the Stanley Park Roll which is $8.
The same purplish sushi rice with a wild combination of colors. It is constructed out of Special Deep Fried Red Snapper, Crab Meat, Cucumber with Mixed Red Snapper & Wrapped Tobiko Special Spicy Sauce.
So what do you think? Pretty interesting isn’t it?
There are so much stuff in this that you can hardly see the form of the roll. I was telling Suanne that we might just eat it with a spoon like a plate of rice. 🙂
What a mess. I told Nanzaro to use the spoon and he said that no one uses a spoon for sushi. He wanted to use his hands as he always does.
The rice wasn’t particularly sticky enough to hold the form. So he was practically eating out of his palm. I was not aware he was making such a mess, until he asked mum “wanna trade?”
Suanne is a good mum.
Nanzaro said he did not like it because of the strong wasabi flavour in it. To me it was nice but he just hates wasabi.
Arkensen also ordered a specialty roll. He went with the Okonomi Special House Roll with is $9.
It is made of Immi Crab Meat, Cucumber, Avocado with Bacon, spicy Tuna (Salmon), Tempura Flake and Special Sauce & Aonori.
The interesting thing is that it is deep fried. It is spicy and pretty interesting.
Suanne’s order is the $12 OkonomiYaki and Tempura.
Other than the tempura above, her $12 order also included the miso soup, edamame and chanwanmushi.
The star of Suanne’s order is the Okonomi-Yaki which is known as Japapnese style pancake or pizza. You can get a choice of Seafood, Meat or Vegetables in any combination.
The Okonomiyaki was OK. Nothing spectacular. We had better ones home made to tell the truth.
Overall, the food was so-so. The food was also interesting. That’s about it.
But I think this place may be interesting enough for some people to make a visit. I think too that there are some westernized sushis (like my cheese roll) that will appeal to non-Japanese.
Well, we had a good time … having a place to sit back, relax and chat after the meal. The chat that day was about this new PS3 controller called PlayStation Move. They are trying to convinced mum and dad how this is the coolest thing since Wii. But that thing is $100! The only way that we will let them buy it is to show us some good grades.
Yeah, they said that sometimes we spend $100 on a meal and the food just goes through the “plumbing” and poop out in hours … while the controller can last for a longer time.
I think I can’t keep up debating them any more.
Oh there are desserts too that goes with the Okonomi’s Complete Meal. We had the banana tempura and ice-cream tempura.
It is good value. They are cheap for all the food we get for sure.
If you are only interested in the food, you might not like this place.
If you are interested in the novelty, you just might enjoy this place.
Thanks a lot Tyler for bringing to our attention of this place.
Mon-Sat: 11:30am – 9:30pm
Sun & Holiday: 12:00pm – 8:30pm
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Wow, really interesting! I hope that they succeed just based on the gumption to stand out from the many non-Japanese sushi places! I will try to check it out if I am ever near by!
It’s red-neck sushi! Would never have expected this in the Vancouver area.
Your kids are hilarious; keeping you on your toes. You must have lots of fun discussions with them.
Hi Liz: LOL! I had never heard of the term red-neck sushi before but in some ways the description may be correct. Ben
Killing two birds with one stone: Have them save money by learning how to cook a few family meals themselves (after all, nice Suanne won’t ALWAYS be there to do it for them). When they can document the savings, they get the controller.
Then say it is their job to fix dinner once a week now that they know how! Of course, there will be games to purchase that use the new controller, and the xbox kinect is coming out soon…
Hi etranger: You know how to deal with teenagers, I am sure. I am not sure if that will work on my boys though. 🙂 Ben
That purple rice scares me (a little). The boys are so grown up looking!!
“The boys are so grown up looking! !”
Check this out …………
He he he … thanks for digging up the link LotusRapper. Yeah, the boys were much cuter when they were younger. Who knows … if I am “lucky”, I will be a granddad within the next few years. LOL! It is weird reading the old blog. Things certainly had changed since we started 4.5 years ago. Ahh … the posts were shorter and much simpler. Those were the days. Ben
LOL, be careful what you wish for, Ben ! Grandparents get asked to do a lot of free babysitting, think of all the great chowdowns you’ll miss !
Wow the sushi looks soooo….. different! thanks for introducing this place, i never would have known this would existed if not for your blog. I love sushi and when I saw the cheese= yummy. Definetly going to try it!
Yeah I agree….your boys looks so grown up now, time sure flies,haha