Tenku Bakudanyaki — Richmond’s Answer to Vancouver’s Japadog?

Tenku Bakudanyaki had moved to #140-12831 Clarke Pl, Richmond; updated on 3rd May 2010. See video below for the new location.

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I don’t know.

I think over the past year, Metro Vancouver had just discovered Japanese cuisine beyond just sushi and maki.  It had been the rage these days to be seen having Ramen instead of wonton noodles.  No more sushi too — that is so passe.  You must tell everyone you are going to a Izakaya.  Beer?  Drink sake instead.

Even the humble hotdog too had a renaissance of sorts.  All thanks to Japadog with its amazingly long lines for a taste of the Japanese hot dog.  Where Vancouver has its Japadog, Richmond, not to be left out, now has …

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… Bakudan Yaki.  Oh yeah, Richmond cannot be left out of this craze for Japanese food.

Tenku Bakudanyaki is operated on a virtually empty parking lot on the intersection of Gilbert and Elmbridge Way.  This is a quiet stretch in Richmond and quite out of the way to most people.
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Yet over the past few weeks, word of this new Japanese food truck had spread far and wide like wild fire.

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Bakudan Yaki is basically fritters made into a ball and then topped with an assortment of sauces and seasonings.  The above is their Original Bakudan Yaki.  I don’t know what the brownish topping is but it tasted like okonomiyaki sauce.  It is also topped with Japanese mayo and bonito flakes.

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G-Men Ramen on Sexsmith Road, Richmond

Updated: 15th Dec 2014; This restaurant has relocated to G-Men Ramen Izakaya@Nanchuu.

For so long we had only known of one Ramen shop in Richmond — Ajisen Ramen. When we heard that the venerable Gyoza King is opening a Ramen shop in Richmond, that place bubbled to the top of our to-visit place.

We know that both Arkensen and Nanzaro will like ramen. They devour MSG-laden instant noodles so much that we buy instant noodles by the box (30 packets!). They can easily finish 2 packets even after having a full dinner. So, Ramen will be up their alley.

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G-Men Ramen is located in the Continental strip mall on Sexsmith and Cambie. It is on a corner shoplot which used to be a pho place.

We were there at about 11:15AM thinking that they would have opened by then as with most restaurants in Richmond. At that time, there were already three parties waiting for it to open. The sign outside said they open at 11:30AM but it was not until 11:45AM before they open the doors. At that time, I counted 15 people already waiting for it to open.

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Frankly, I think they did not use their brains at all. Even if they are not ready (and late!), they could at least have opened the doors to the customers and let them have a seat and explain they need more time. The customers would have understood. So, some of the customers were fuming mad … a hungry customer is an angry customer. Simple as that … the staff need adult supervision. LOL!

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Their menu is simple … just two pages with big prints. Of course, the main items are Ramen. There are four types of ramens costing between $8.00 and $8.50. Extra toppings and noodles are anywhere between 50 cents to $3.

Even though we were the fourth party shown the table, it actually took a long while before we got the ramen. I was expecting it to be served very fast since I reckon that it’s just pouring prepared soup into the bowl.

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Arkensen ordered the first item on the menu. The first item on most menus are the specialty item. It is the authentic Tonkotsu (“pork bone”) Ramen with its distinctive cloudy broth. The broth is simply the most flavourful and richer compared to the other ramens we ordered.

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Soul Robata and Izakaya on Alexandra Road, Richmond

Suanne and I met up with Kenneth for dinner. It had been a while since we last met but over the years I had been in touch with him over Facebook. Kenneth is an avid photog and I got my interest in photography from him. The reason I am using Canon (and not Nikon) is because of him.

Kenneth had been to Barcelona a few years ago and after all these years, I still remembered the stunning pictures he took from his trip. Since Suanne and I will be vacationing in Spain this summer, I wanted to meet up and learn more about Spain. Also, I had just gotten a brand new lens and wanted to learn from the master himself since he had a similar model.

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Kenneth and his wife shares a lot in common with us. They travel a lot and makes a trip to Japan at least once a year. They are going again this year and planning to dine at a Michelin 3-star restaurant (expensive!).

So with all the badgering (LOL!) I had from chowtimes reader about my constant trips to cheap sushi joints, I decided to meet up at a Izakaya. Moreover with Kenneth’s experience with Japanese food, I won’t go wrong. This is like killing THREE birds with one stone … lens, Barcelona and Izakaya. Perfect.

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The Soul Robata and Izakaya restaurant must be new. I had never noticed this place before. Had I not eaten at the new Cattle Cafe (located just next door), I would not have known.

Somehow, I think there is an explosion of Izakaya restaurants in Metro Vancouver. Do you reckon? It is like a in thing these days to dine at an Izakaya and do find that people are thumbing their noses (snobs! LOL!) to cheap sushi joints.

Soul has daily specials from Mondays to Thursdays. I can’t recall which day but one of the days’ special is 50 cents oysters. I gotta check that out one of these days.

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Kenneth came late and without Christina — baby problems apparently. While waiting we ordered a Japanese beer — Sapporo Premium. This is $8.50 for a large bottle. It is light bodied and had a mild bitterness. Not big alcohol drinkers ourselves, this is perfect at 5% alcohol content … even Suanne thinks it is good.

Soul has an extensive Sake menu. Ooooo … expensive! Some of them costs something like $150. I stayed away from that … my taste is not THAT refined.

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Service was excellent. The wait staff who waited on us was very helpful and genuine and tolerated all my dumb questions. These are some of the things that makes it a great start to a meal.

You know, I think Soul is a Chinese owned restaurant because I thought I heard them speaking in Cantonese. That and the fact that they did not yell as loudly as in the authentic Japanese Izakaya joints. 🙂

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We had to get their special of the day. It is simply called the Marinated Hamachi which costs $4.95 on Saturdays. On other days, this is $9. Taste wise, there is a hint of sharp spiciness and served with “Soul Special Sauce” … not sure what that sauce is. It is really a small serving with only 4 pieces of Hamachis. Delicious.

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They call their Okonomiyaki the Homemade Japanese Pizza with Seafood. I would call it a pancake more than it is a pizza. The size of this is like a medium pizza with 6 slices. We like the base which is crunchy and crispy. According to Kenneth who had been many times to the home of the Okonomiyaki (Osaka), he finds the quality of this quite close to those he had in Osaka. This is $11.

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Continue ReadingSoul Robata and Izakaya on Alexandra Road, Richmond

Party Tray from Jumbo Sushi

Alright, this will come across to you like a test post. It is. There are a few things I wanted to test out and wanted to see how it goes.

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For some reason, I felt that the past winter had been particular long and drabby and cold. Nothing exciting happened during the past few months. But the winter is finally over … yah!

Actually it was still cold but at least the sun is out with a vengeance. So, I dragged a very reluctant Suanne out (the boys were OK) to have sushi takeout lunch at the park. I am wicked, I know.

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Banzai Sushi House on Westminster Highway, Richmond

We raved about our find at Jumbo Sushi just a couple of weeks ago. It was not because Jumbo Sushi is good or anything like that. It was because they serve HUGE JUMBO sized sushi for cheap. It was just perfect for my boys who can devour sushis like there is no tomorrow.

It WAS.

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Jumbo Sushi WAS the boys favourite for just two weeks. The family favourite is now the Banzai Sushi House (thanks to the recommendation of Vanessa, again).

Banzai Sushi is located on Westminster Highway in the strip mall across from the Richmond Public Market. It is actually just next door to Tsim Chai Noodles. For some reason, I had never taken notice of Banzai Sushi before … strange.

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The picture above is somewhat misleading. We were the first customer as soon as they open at 11AM. Shortly after, it was all packed — certainly a very popular place and to think that I thought there were no sushi places of note in Richmond.

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Nanzaro ordered the Tuna and Salmon Sashimi. This is just over $9.25.

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But they are HUGE … everyone of them. It was mind boggling seeing sashimi pieces these big. Nanzaro was absolutely delighted with his bowl and tried his best not to smirk at his older brother’s selection. It was not often that Nanzaro beats Arkensen in anything.

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Just look at the size of it one more time. It is just this thing alone that I am sure we will be making repeat trips to Banzai Sushi. Size DOES matter.

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Arkensen selected from the Maki Combo B. This is $9 and consists of five types of half rolls.

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Ebisu on Robson, Vancouver

You might have guessed by now. We are eating out more in downtown than we used to.

We eat out in Richmond most of the time but of late Suanne and I have more time on our own since the boys have more activities of their own too. I am not sure if it’s good or bad because it also means one thing … that in a few short years, our boys will be more on their own and before we know it, they’ll be moving out of the nest.

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We went to Ebisu on Robson. Apparently, Ebisu has several outlets. We know of one in Richmond but had never been there before. We were actually there on the recommendation of someone who knows the General Manager of this outlet. Suanne and I thought it would be great to check out a place where we get to learn and not just dine at the place.

This particular one is located at the intersection of Robson and Bute.

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We went there very early at 5PM and were met by Deon. Being curious, we enjoyed the fact that we get to learn more about Ebisu from Deon who spent a lot of time telling us about this two year old restaurant.

Apparently Ebisu is an offshoot of the 40-year old Kamei Royale, one of the earliest traditional Japanese restaurant in Vancouver. Today, many of the chefs in some of the more popular Japanese restaurants have their root in Kamei Royale. Unlike Kamei Royale, Ebisu serves contemporary and fusion Japanese food.

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You all probably know I appreciate little things in a restaurant. When we were seated, we were handed HOT (disposable) towels. To me, this shows that they think of every minutest of details.

Talking about hot towels, this one I use to wipe my face … it feels good. But … you know in some Chinese restaurants, they also hand you hot towels but not the disposable ones (like this type in Ebisu). Do you use it to wipe your hands only? I had always wanted to use those to wipe my face because it feels so good but have never done it (in public!) because it makes me look like I am uncultured! LOL!

I have seen people using the towels to wipe their hands, face … and NECK!

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I love their menus. Lots of big pictures and lots of variety. They are promoting their Happy Hour menu with a lot of good deals. They only started the Happy Hour menu about 4 weeks ago.

I remember we took an awfully long time to choose what we wanted that the waitress came by three times asking if we were ready to place our order. We finally made our choices with the help of Deon. We like this because we can ask as many dumb questions we wanted to make sure we know exactly what we are ordering.

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We asked Deon what is the one thing on the menu he is most proud of. Without hesitation, he said the drinks particularly the one he calls the Golden Balls. He also told me that every single drink on the menu is his own creation — we were quite impressed.

What we like most of the menu is that they print the alcohol content on each drink. That makes it easy for people like Suanne and I who does not take much alcohol to choose our drinks.

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I got the Golden Balls which is Orchid Lychee Liquer, Peach Schnapps and Apple Juice. It was a very nice drink and I can see why Deon says that it is their most popular drink. They use fresh lychees to make this (i.e. not canned lychees).

Suanne had the Virgin Lime Margarita which is $3.75. It was sourish with a hint of bitterness. We like the glowy snow whiteness of the drink — like it’s radioactive or something.

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Since the oysters were just 99 cents, we ordered just three to try. Deon was raving that their oysters are very popular, always fresh and never kept more than 48 hours. He also said that at 99 cents, Ebisu has perhaps the cheapest oysters. Some places charges like $20 for six pieces alone.

Suanne is squirmish over raw stuff and hates the sliminess of oysters. It came in a large ice bowl and was surprised that they even have four different types of sauces. The sauces are vinegar, Tabasco, chili sauce and other one we could not quite figure out. It is an unique chili sauce with a little bitterness in it.

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However, the oysters are pretty small. Maybe that is why it’s just 99 cents. We enjoyed it. I said we because Suanne mustered enough courage to try one. The sauces were great. I wanted to order more but felt kind of silly to ask for “three more please”.

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We had some “action” food, or “interactive” food, if I may. It is called the Inferno which comes with either Hamachi (yellow tail) or Saba (mackerel). We got the Hamachi one ($9.90). They torched it in front of us. Seated by the window in broad daylight, there was not much of an action here. I would love to take a picture of this in darker settings with the blue flames blasting the hamachi.

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Jumbo Sushi on No 3 Road, Richmond

We just stumble onto a sushi place which will be a family favourite for sometime to come. We had been to Jumbo Sushi twice already. The first time, we did not even bother to bring along the camera as we did not think much about this place. The following week we re-visited Jumbo Sushi armed with the camera because we felt this will be worth writing about.

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Jumbo Sushi is located on No 3 Road across the road from Richmond Center. It is at the small strip mall between Cook Road and Park Road.

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Jumbo Sushi is pretty much a hole-in-the-wall. There is nothing to talk about in terms of decor. The furniture are IKEA — even the plastic cups are from IKEA. The only thing other than the word sushi here that attempts to make this like a sushi restaurant is limited to the small banner with Japanese words and a couple of lanterns. The people are Chinese for sure as they speaks perfect Cantonese.

Deciding what each of us wanted was not easy because there were so many choices and options with specials. They have pictures of their offerings pasted all over the wall.

To the purists, Jumbo Sushi will be the kind shunned as a wannabe Japanese restaurant.

But … it is the kind of place our boys love. Suanne and I like it too.

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Jumbo Sushi is named that way because they make JUMBO sushis. We love this place because it is value for money. Our growing boys do not care for top grade salmon sashimi for their sushi. They just want LOTs of sushi … and bigger is better.

In short, Jumbo Sushi is value for money for reasonable quality. They also have quite a number of unique sushi creations worth discovering.

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We had a few specialty sushi to share. The one above is called the Supreme Mango Roll which costs $4.75. In it, they have avocado, crab meat, mango and then topped off with more mango and roe. The roll, like all their other rolls are very big. It is so big that you could not eat this with just one bite.

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Does any of you knowledgeable about roes? Are these salmon roe? Tell me more about this because I know so little of them.

Anyway, although the roe are big, they tasted kind of fishy. Is it because it is not fresh or does roe supposed to taste like that?

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The Hawaiian Beef Roll is one that Suanne will eat because it is cooked. Suanne has still not come to grip with eating uncooked food.

The Hawaiian Beef Roll had beef and pineapple with teriyaki sauce. This is good … and only $3.50.

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Nan Chuu Japanese Izakaya on Alexandra Road, Richmond

Suanne and I decided to start eating up. Let’s see … over the past three years of food blogging, we had blogged a total of 19 Japanese dine outs. Most of it was AYCEs (all-you-can-eat), ramen, bento boxes and sushi platters. The most gourmet places was Daimasu which I had every other comment lambasting me for even saying that it was great. Oh yeah, we also went to Tenhaci and I also got lambasted for saying that I hit the can several times after the meal. LOL!

So, here you go … Izakaya. Oooooo … Suanne and Ben’s is eating up. Ooooo … gourmet Japanese!

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We initially wanted to go to Manzo Izakaya but found that it was closed on Monday. Looking across the street on Alexandra, there is Seto which I heard rave reviews of. But then I also heard of the review that says it costs $60 for a meal for two in Seto. That kind of rules Seto out.

It just so happen that there is another Izakaya just a few doors away. We peeked into the place and it looked OK and pretty authentic Japanese.

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Nan Chuu is authentic alright. Everyone speaks Japanese here and when the wait staff came by to speak to us her accent is clearly Japanese.

You know what I like about this place. When we walked in, everyone (and I mean) everyone yelled something. I guess it was to greet us but we never quite know if it was meant for us.

The booth we were seated in was very narrow … and dark too if I may add. Also, Suanne observed that it was loud … loud music and all. I gather that this is quite common in an Izakaya … with the word Izakaya meaning a Sake Shop.

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We were given two menus … a fancy wood cover menu and another hand drawn Today’s Special. The waitress was very helpful trying to explain what they have but it was all over our head. So, after mulling for a good few minutes we decided on three items.

We had absolutely no idea what we were ordering and told the waitress that. She smiled and said “yes” politely. I don’t think she got half of what we said.

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The first one was the Tuna Yukke with Seaweed under Nori Wrap. They had this as special for $5.50 before 7PM. Since they highly recommended this we said yes even though we had no idea what it looked like nor did we know what Yukke was.

When it was brought to our table, it was later explained to us that the sauce is Yukke.

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