Sushi Garden on Kingsway, Metrotown.

There are quite a number of sushi houses lining Kingsway near the Metrotown area like you won’t believe. Let me see those I can recall some of the popular ones at the top of my head … Oyama, Tomoya, Kura, Isami, Yako, Asakusa and of course …

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… Sushi Garden. Among all the Sushi houses here, it appears that Sushi Garden is the most popular.

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As popular as it is, I don’t normally go to Sushi even though it is a short walk from my office. The reason is the crowd. It is very busy during lunchtime. To get a table you are advised to get there at least 15 minutes before noon.

That was what I did. By noon, all the tables will have been taken. On the day I went to Sushi Garden it was also raining quite heavily and yet it was full at noon.

They are popular because of the value and their sushis are quite decent too. What sucks about Sushi Garden to me is their service. I understand that they are busy and the waitresses have their hands full keeping things together but they do have an aloof mannerism that it is bordering on rudeness … at least that is how I felt when I was there. Mind you, I was there so early and they had the time to properly serve me. Instead, they were standing by the bar chatting with the chefs. I had to signal them that I am ready to order (I had put my menu down for minutes already). It seems like my waitress was unhappy that I interrupted her chat!

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I decided on the item that has the most variety of sushis (and also the most expensive). The Deluxe Assorted Sushi is $16 and consists of 10 different type of sushis. It also has a couple of small tuna and salmon rolls “on the side” so to speak.

One thing I noticed all the time is that they serves their sushis on wooden platforms. Never been to Japan before myself, I assume that it is … (more…)

Continue ReadingSushi Garden on Kingsway, Metrotown.

Koi Sushi on Westminster Hwy, Richmond

Updated on 17th June 2010: This restaurant has been replaced by Happy Sushi.

There is one thing we know that our boys would always like — sushi. They don’t really care about the quality at all. All they want is quantity. The more the better.

When I suggested that we check out the new All You Can Eat sushi restaurant, they were delighted. But there is a problem … Suanne just don’t like Sushi and raw fish. She will go along as long as his boys enjoys their food.

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We went to Koi Sushi which is just next door to the ever popular Shanghai River. Specifically, it is on Westminster Highway just west of No 3 Road. We recently knew of this place because they had ads on the local city papers announcing their grand opening.

We remembered that this place used to be called the Shota Japanese Cuisine.

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The interior was clean and decor was well coordinated. The chairs was comfortable and it was certainly spacious. Not many AYCE sushi places are like this. We were quite impressed.

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Service wise, it was slow. It took a while for our hot tea and menu to come … and even that we had to flag the waitress down.

Koi Sushi’s AYCE Lunch is $11. It is $1 extra for Friday through Sunday.

Koi’s AYCE menu selection is large and spread over two pages. Unlike a lot of other Sushi AYCE, Koi has Robata too. Needless to say, Suanne was really happy to see that.

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The above was what we ordered … lots of sushis for the boys and lots of Robatas for Suanne. We thought we would order this as our first order and then order some more afterwards. Nope … it turned out that is too much food.

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Their sashimi is $2 extra. I really don’t know how this all works out but regardless, the sashimi is small. I don’t think we had seen sashimis cut this small before.

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It is kind of hard to judge their servings. For instance, we had no idea that this one order of the Teriyaki Chicken came with … (more…)

Continue ReadingKoi Sushi on Westminster Hwy, Richmond

Toshi Sushi on East 16th Ave and Main, Vancouver

When Suanne and I first started blogging almost 4 years ago, I remember there were about five food blogs. Today there are so many that I had no time to read all of them, let alone get to know each one personally even though I would love to do that.

Among all the food bloggers, in our eyes there is one who had managed to do something that no other food bloggers had ever done (and will very probably never achieve) … and that is to land an interview on the morning news on TV. You probably know him … Matt of VancouverSlop.com.

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Matt and I met over dinner last week after work. Our choice of location is Toshi Sushi which is one of the most popular Japanese sushi restaurant in Vancouver.

Toshi Sushi, located on East 16th Ave just west of Main, opens only for dinner. Their dinner hours starts at 5PM.

So we decided to meet at 15 minutes before they open their doors to get a table. Even at that time, there were already a line despite it raining and there were hardly any cover from the elements. Yeah, we waited in the rain.

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Toshi Sushi is very popular. It is so popular that they do not think twice about imposing rules on their customers. They discourage groups larger than six … can you believe any restaurant saying that? It seems like they are so popular that they do not have to think twice about offending a customer because there are more than they can handle anyway.

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Since Matt and I were second in line that night, we did not have to wait for a table. But for those who could not get a table in the first sitting, you place your name on the name list and wait patiently. I have read that waits could be an hour, or more.

One particular “NO EXCUSES!” (in caps and exclamation mark) rule that you need to observe is that EVERYONE in your party MUST be present before they seat you. There was one particular review I read that someone put in 4 person to the party. When they were called, one person in the party were running late. So the party of three got seated and when the waitress found that there were only three, the waitress asked them to vacate the table and threw them back to the bottom of the list … and that is despite the customer offering to order for FOUR people. Can you imagine that?

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These kind of stories makes a legend of a restaurant. That reminds of the famous Soup Nazi scenes from Seinfeld.

So be warned OK? When they said “NO EXECUSES!”, they mean it. It’s in black and white … caps and exclamation mark.

Play by the rules and you will be alright.

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Toshi Sushi is really small. That’s why they find it hard to accommodate parties larger than six because it is just impossible to time an opening for that number of people. Their name of the game is to turn the tables as fast as possible so that they can fill as many stomachs as possible.

With all these legendary stuff in mind, I thought that service would be horrendous. It was not. Our waitress was pleasant, patient and helpful with the questions we had for her.

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Since Matt had dined at Toshi before and knows this restaurant very well, I left most of the ordering to him. We started off with two rolls.

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You will not find the above roll on their menu. Only a regular like Matt would know of its existence.

This is simply called the Box Roll. It has salmon, prawns, scallop, mayo and lemon. It is the lemon that gives this a very different flavor. It is pretty good and you should try ordering this.

I asked our waitress why this is not on the menu. She told me that … (more…)

Continue ReadingToshi Sushi on East 16th Ave and Main, Vancouver

Miku Restaurant on West Hastings, Vancouver

Suanne and I are getting into the groove of going out for a nice dinner to start off the weekend. Just the two of us.

So when it was Remembrance Day on Wednesday last week, we made the excuse to also dine out the day before. After all, it felt like a weekend, albeit a short one.
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We went to Miku because we heard so much about their unique version of sushi. Having never been here before and guided by the reviews we read, we went there with a perception of exclusiveness and authentic Japanese culinary experience. After all, they are located at a part of downtown that we thought is an expensive area to operate a restaurant.

Miku is located on West Hastings just west of Burrard. It is just a street away from the new Vancouver Convention Center.

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As usual, we were at Miku early at 5PM. They were at the midst of setting up for the evening. We were greeted by the restaurant manager, Erica, who turned out to be our perfect host for the evening. We were given a choice of seated at the bar or the tables. We opted for the tables simply because we felt kind of odd eating in front of the chef, especially when we want to take pictures. On hindsight, it would have been much better seated at the bar because that was where the action is.

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Miku is modern and certainly upscale. The service was impeccable.

While their menu is not overly large (it was a 3-pager only), the menu was rather overwhelming to us as a lot of them are in Japanese names. I am sure you know the feeling when you have menus you simply have no idea what they are. I must say that our waiter was really good and patient with our questions and help us navigate the menu.

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I got something Japanese for the drink. This is called the Nakano Brewery Ume Shu ($8 for a glass). I like this … it is a well-balanced complex Japanese plum wine. Even Suanne likes it too. It does not reek of alcohol and is light. The only thing is that the ice dilutes it pretty fast so it is best taken early on.

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We started the night with two orders of sushis. The above is their signature Miku Roll ($15). This roll has salmon, uni (sea urchin), snow crab and cucumber and rolled with tobiko.

While this does not look particularly pretty, it is amazing. What makes this different from others is the way it is prepared …

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… Aburi-style. Erica explained to us that the Aburi technique of searing is copyrighted. When I saw that they were making this, I asked if it is OK if I take a picture of them making this at the bar. I scampered over and took the picture above.

We had seared sushis before. This is is different in that they had a bigger torch and seared with a charcoal which gives out crackles as it is seared. The charcoal is supposed to give it a smokey flavour while the searing serves to liquify the oil in the ingredients. It looked fancier but am not sure if the charcoal really makes a difference.

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Two things we love about the Miku Roll … you see the fatty looking thingy topping the roll above? I thought it was some fatty meat or something until we asked our waiter who said it was their very own Miku Sauce. It was great and was curious what exactly it is made of. When we got the chance, we asked Erica who said that it’s a secret recipe that she is not privy to that info. Maybe she did not know? LOL!

The other thing that is amazing here is the tobiko (flying fish roe) which was seared making it really crunchy. We had a great time popping all the tobiko which scattered inside our mouth. Nice!

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Our second sushi is called the Premium Aburi Sushi and described as the Chef’s Selection of Assorted Aburi Sushi. With a name like that you cannot go wrong right?

There are a total of 7 pieces of sushis in this $18 offering. Each of the sushis were paired with … (more…)

Continue ReadingMiku Restaurant on West Hastings, Vancouver

Guu in Aberdeen, Richmond

It’s getting tougher to look for a new cake place for cake meet with Polly. I got a couple of places to check out but only found out that they are open late in the afternoon which does not suit our timing. It was also a rainy day and we ended up in Aberdeen Center in Richmond. At least the car park is covered and there is plenty of parking spaces. That’s why we ended up our cake meet at Guu in Aberdeen.

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Guu in Aberdeen opens for lunch at 11:30am. That is still ok with us. Since we were there at about 11:00 am, we had some time to do some groceries shopping before our lunch. Polly likes to do her groceries shopping on Friday as most groceries places are packed with people in the weekends. As for me, I like to do my groceries shopping at the beginning of the week as I seldom cook during weekends.

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Guu is a Izakaya type of Japanese restaurant.  All the servers will greet you the moment you enter and leave the restaurant.  They are full of enthusiasm.  I like their high spirit.  The only other Asian restaurant that practice such greetings are Taiwanese restaurant.  However, they are more subtle.

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Polly likes Guu’s cup and condiment holders, especially the cup with the fish imprints.  Chinese restaurants usually have toothpicks at the counter but in Guu, they actually have them on the table.  What a nice touch.

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We ordered two items to share.  The first item was called the Guuu’d Box.  It’s on the lunch special menu.  This bento box costs (more…)

Continue ReadingGuu in Aberdeen, Richmond

Shabusen Yakiniku House on Granville and West 14th, Vancouver

Updated: 4th April 2011: This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

The last time we had Japanese AYCE (all-you-can-eat) was 7 months ago. That was when we went to E-Bei.

As much as Nanzaro and Arkensen love Japanese sushi, the reason why we had not gone to one more often is because Suanne just doesn’t like raw fish, period.

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But Shabusen Yakiniku House is different. It is both a Japanese AYCE and a Korean BBQ AYCE.

There are two Shabusens in Vancouver. There is one in downtown Vancouver. We went to the other one on Granville.

In case you don’t know, the word Yakiniku means grilled meat in Japanese.

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For an AYCE, Shabusen looks a lot posh and better than all the other AYCEs we had been to. The whole place is bright with lots of ceiling high windows and skylights. It was actually a beautiful day eating here despite the it being rainy the whole morning. The Fall colors looked so good at this time of the year.

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Every table had a gas grill in the center. That is for the Korean BBQ. See the bottle above? That is the BBQ sauce but really, we hardly need to use that because the meat were already very well marinated.

Service was kind of slow here. The waiters and waitresses seems to walk around with their eyes peeled to the ground all the time. It is as if they are afraid that if they get eye contact with the customer, they will have to do more work or something. It was so hard to get their attention when we wanted something from them.

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The AYCE is $13 for weekdays and $13.50 for weekends. Dinner is is $22.

The selection at a glance looks a lot smaller than places like Kingsway Sushi and E-Bei. The above was our first round order where we max out our order of Sashimis.

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We left these 32 pieces to the boys. These alone kept them very happy.

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For Suanne and I, we were quite contended with the Korean BBQ. There are three choices … chicken, beef and pork.

In our greed, we ordered a total of EIGHT plates of BBQ meat. That was way too much and we had a difficult time finishing all of them. We did not feel good about wasting food.

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For once, I was the one who did all the cooking. Oh yeah, believe it or not [giving myself a pat on the back].

BBQ is a guy thing for some reason. Suanne was happy to let me do all the work while she enjoys my cooking.

Well, I must say that I did quite well. The meat was super … (more…)

Continue ReadingShabusen Yakiniku House on Granville and West 14th, Vancouver

Samurai Sushi House on Cambie Near 41st, Vancouver

This is one place we expect our boys would love. They like sushi — the more the better.

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When I suggested we go to Samurai Sushi for lunch, they were happy. They knew that Samurai is the sister restaurant to the Banzai Sushi House in Richmond. Their claim to notoriety is their ridiculously large rolls.

No serious.

If you have never seen their rolls, I am sure you will laugh when you see it for the first time. Their biggest is what they call the House Roll. It is so big that you can’t even pick it up with your hands without it breaking apart.

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We did not expect the place to be so small. There is some seats along the bar and about 2-3 tables. That’s all. Banzai in Richmond is a lot bigger. Here, they have a lot of take out business.

Their picture menu is pasted along the wall.

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The above are pages from Samurai Sushi’s take out menu.

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We got seated on the sushi bar and get to see three chefs at working making the sushi … and the ridiculously large House Roll below to see how massive they are.

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I so wanted to take a picture of the chefs at work but they have such a serious look on their face their I thought I better not. I wanted to show you the rolls that they had already made. You will be surprised how many they already made ready to go. There must be over a hundred rolls neatly stacked all over the place.

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My choice was the $9.75 Mixed Combo. It consists of 2 tuna, 2 salmon and 2 ebi sushi.

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The salmon … (more…)

Continue ReadingSamurai Sushi House on Cambie Near 41st, Vancouver

Cafe de Waraku in Richmond

It was one of the nights that Ben was craving for dessert and there being not many choices, we went to Excellence Tofu and Snacks at Hazelbridge.   I wish there are more dessert places in Richmond which serves hot dessert soups.  After dessert, we peeped into this new cafe beside the Excellence Tofu to look at the menu displayed outside the glass panels.  I did not pay much attention as my first glance is that this place serves Japanese style pasta.  But it was Nanzaro who pointed out to me that Cafe de Waraku also serves cheesecakes.

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So, I brought Polly to Cafe de Waraku for our cake meet.  We were there just past 12:00 noon and the place is still pretty quiet.

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We were told that the cafe has opened for about 5 months only.  It has simple decorations with a few colourful art pieces on the wall.  It is clean and neat.

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We like their menu which has colourful pictures.  It makes selection much easier.  The menu highlights that their items has no msg added and low in sodium.  Good for those health conscious people.

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Since it’s already noon, we ordered one of their lunch special pasta to try.   The pasta comes in three type of flavorings, i.e. Japanese stir fried in original flavour, in cream sauce and in tomato sauce.  We picked one in original flavour with eel and egg.  This costs $7.99.  The noodle is simple and tasty.  We totally enjoyed this pasta.

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The lunch special comes with a free drink.   So, I opted for a coffee, thinking that it will be just dripped coffee.  To my surprise, the coffee is pretty good and it even has some crema on it. (more…)

Continue ReadingCafe de Waraku in Richmond

Kintaro Tonkotsu Ramen on Denman, Vancouver

Suanne and I went downtown to cover an event a couple of weeks ago.  Since the event was late beyond our normal dinner time and does not really serve food, we decided to just go check out the place which Rey was raving about.

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Many would claim that Kintaro’s Ramen is the best in Vancouver.  If I recall correctly, Rey even said that Kintaro has the best Ramen outside of Japan … something like that … something like wow, you just gotta try it!

We had seen lines outside the small restaurant before and it was something that put us off trying Kintaro.  This time we were there at 5:30PM, just before dinner rush hour.  There were tables available at that time.  However, by 6PM there were already people patiently waiting outside the restaurant for a table.

Despite its popularity, the restaurant is unbelievably small and if I could add, spartan.  I guess it is the charm of a place like this.  It is its simplicity that adds to the charm.  In Kintaro, it is all about Ramen, and about Ramen.  I always believe that a setup like Kintaro is best left as it is … i.e. they should not change a proven formula by expanding this place or remove the long lines!  LOL!

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I absolutely had no idea what they were all shouting about throughout the time we were there.  They shouted the moment we walked in … each time a customer walks out or make an order.

Service was polite.  They were polite and patient when they took our orders even though we had so many questions on their menu.  I guess it was OK then because there were not so many customers.  When the lines starts to form, they were politely coming around very fast the moment we put down a chopstick asking if we are done.  I understand that they wanted to turn the tables as fast as they can.  They did it politely and we understand.  Kintaro is not a place where you would dine … I say spending 45 minutes here is stretching it a bit too long during peak hours.  It’s order-eat-pay-go here.

The Red Pepper Mix above (called Shichimi Togarashi) is a common Japanese spice mix used for soups and noodles.  It’s a mix of 7 kinds of ingredients.

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Kintaro’s menu is a simple 1-pager.  We opted for the one that stated “Kintaro’s BEST!”.  It is the Miso Ramen ($8).

At the time of ordering here, you need to decide on the richness of the broth (rich, medium or light) and either you wanted fat or lean pork.  We asked for RICH broth and FAT pork.

Kintaro’s menu says that their soup is flavored with a blend of soy bean pastes from 4 different Japanese regions and twelve spices.  Whatever it is, the soup was very flavorful.  The broth was way too rich which somehow made us feel full.  We should have asked for medium instead.  You could ask for additional toppings ranging from $1-$2 but we did not bother with that.

There were 2 big slices of rather thick pork with mouth-watering marblings.  This was like the ultimate in pork … goodness-delicious melt-in-your-mouth type.  It was way better than the rather comparatively pitiful ones we had at G-Men — no comparison really. (more…)

Continue ReadingKintaro Tonkotsu Ramen on Denman, Vancouver

Free Dessert from Ebisu Robson and Broadway!

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Hello Vancouver.

Update 31-Aug-2009: Please note that this offer has lapsed and no longer available at Ebisu.

Read on because there is a summer treat for you … courtesy of Ebisu on Robson and Chowtimes.com.  It is going to be quite a treat, so you may want to pay a little bit more attention to this post!  🙂

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Suanne and I dined at Ebisu about a month ago.  We had a great time and we blogged about it here.

A couple of Thursdays ago, Ebisu on Robson launched their new menu with the introduction of a few pretty interesting and new dishes.  At the same time, they had also prepared the Spring/Summer specials.

Suanne and I were back at Ebisu to sample the new items on the day of the launch.  More importantly, we were there to work on a three-way-win plan.  Ebisu gets to introduce their new menu on chowtimes … and at the same time Chowtimes gets to inject some fun (and value) to our readers.  Most important of all, chowtimes readers gets a free dessert.

Like these …

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You may get any of these items above as a treat from Ebisu and Chowtimes.  Oh, wanted to be clear that this is available only in Ebisu on Robson and Ebisu on Broadway.  I’ll share with you the details further down this post because I wanted to show you what Suanne and I became a “guinea pig” for you Vancouverites.  He he he ….

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Deon, Ebisu on Robsons General Manager, hosted us.  We started off one of their new sushi rolls.  The one we tried was the Ninja Kicker (above).  This roll is targeted for those sushi lovers who craves for a little bit more spiciness in their roll (hence the name).

Suanne and I loves this roll a lot.  It is certainly a departure from the normal sushi rolls and is perfect in many ways.  If you like a kick to your rolls, I am quite certain you will love this.

Suanne and I learned a lot from Deon.  It was interesting how they developed their new menu.  The Ninja Kicker has all the elements of a good creation.  It is pleasing to the eye with a good balance of colors.  It has a combination of contrasting texture. The prawn tempura adds crunch to the texture.

This one has an element of surprise in the taste department.

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The secret to the Ninja Kicker is the sauce.  All Deon would say is that they started this from a base … the humble Thai-style Sriricha hot sauce.  The sauce is darker than Sriricha sauce, that much I know.  It has a level of sweetness and with a strong flavour.  The spiciness leaves a lingering heat in the mouth.

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Tuna Tataki is one of the more popular Japanese dishes.  On the surface this looks kind of normal … (more…)

Continue ReadingFree Dessert from Ebisu Robson and Broadway!