All You Can Eat Lite Dinner at Ninkazu, Richmond

I asked Arkensen and Nanzaro what they would like to eat before I visit Ben in Beijing again. Both of them wanted to go Ninkazu for the all you can eat.

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This time, we went for the lite dinner for $20.95 per person. For starters, I had miso soup and goma-ae while Arkensen had Ebi Sunomono.

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The boys mostly interested in shasimi; only tuna and salmon available in the lite dinner option. If you go for the deluxe, there are more choices. The boys had a second order of the sashimi.

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The boys also tried the Tuna and beef tataki.

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Some spicy and teriyaki shasimi. I quite like the teriyaki version despite I’m not a fan of shasimi. (more…)

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Himalaya Restaurant on No. 5 Road, Richmond

Arkensen and Nanzaro wanted Indian food on a weekend dine out. Arkensen even volunteered to drive us to the restaurant.

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We went to Himalaya Restaurant at No. 5 Road and Cambie.

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We came for the All You Can Eat Buffet which is $12 per person. Himalaya Restaurant also sells a wide range of Indian sweets. This restaurant seats about 70.

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If all you can eat is not your forte, you can order from the menu too. You can click on the menu to have a larger view.

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I have never seen so much Indian sweets being offered on the buffet tables before.

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Gulap Jamun is the most common Indian sweets offered in most All You Can Eat Indian buffet.

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Above are some of the items offered on the buffet tables which include meat curries, vegetarian dishes, tidbits, etc. You can click on the photos to have a larger view. (more…)

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Late Night Supper at Ninkazu, Richmond

Ben has not eaten at Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant before although it is our boys favourite place to eat. So, on a Saturday night, Ben decided to try their late night all you can eat since we only had lunch that day.

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When we arrived around 9:30PM, there was a crowd of people in side the front entrance and some were outside the door. We should have make a reservation first. We noticed that most of the diners at the late night supper are youngsters.

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We noticed a price increase notice pasted on the front entrance. I did a check of their website earlier that day but it was still with the old pricing. I guess they have not update their website yet.

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We waited for 30 minutes before we got a table.

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The late night menu has a few items more than the lunch menu which is $3 cheaper. One of the item is sashimi which is limited to 3 pieces for each category (only two i.e. salmon and tuna) per person. The pieces are small and thin. (more…)

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New Concept Hot Pot: Three Soup Hot Pot for Soup Lovers

We had been having a lot of hot pots these days. Too many. I am saying that because every time we had hot pots, we ended up regretting it because most hot pots we go to are All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) restaurants.

There seems to be a lot of new hot pot places opening these days. I wonder if there is a reason to it. I do wonder if it is because it is simple to operate and at the same time they bring in more sales per customer compared to other Chinese restaurants. Each hot pot AYCE meal will easily cost $25-$30 per person after you factor in everything as opposed to $10-$15 elsewhere.

JS and TS alerted us to this new hot pot restaurant called New Concept Hot Pot a month or two ago when there were two hot pot restaurants opened at about the same time in Richmond … and right about the same neighborhood too. We ended up going to the other one – Boiling Point which serves stinky-stinky tofu hot pot.

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We forgot about this place after until Buddha Girl pointed out to us that this hot pot place has a THREE soup hot pot.

Yup, the only motivation for us to come to New Concept Hot Pot was only because they have THREE soup hot pot. We are not aware of any hot pot restaurants in Vancouver that has three soup pots.

The New Concept Hot Pot is located on New Westminster Highway in Richmond. They are in the small strip mall with a double story building just east of No 3 Road. It is just next door to Alleluia Cafe.

Talking about Alleluia Cafe. We had once blogged about it before (here) but it was long time ago. Five years ago as a matter of fact! We wanted to come back because it is certainly one of the better HK Style Cafes. What I wanted to come back for is their bottomless milk tea! I heard they refill milk tea. I need to prepare myself before I go because I know what bottomless milk tea does to my sleep rhythm.

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For a hot pot restaurant, New Concept is small. They only seat 20 people at one time.

We went early at about 6:00 PM. No reservation is required at that time but it is chancy. By 7:00 PM, there was already a wait of 20 minutes for a table and we saw that they were turning people away shortly after. So to be on the safe side, it is best to make a reservation before hand.

Most of their customers speak Mandarin. Maybe it is just me. Do you find that even within the Chinese community, the Mandarin speaking and Cantonese speaking customers do generally congregate to certain restaurant? I know this is a confusing question. LOL! For instance, I go to the Golden Szechuan Restaurant and I see mostly Mainland China customer (from the tone of Mandarin). In Corner 23, it is mostly Taiwanese. In HK Style Cafe, it is mostly Cantonese speakers. Oh … don’t bother to answer me … ignore it, I just asked that question because I can sense some flames coming my way. 🙂

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First time I saw restaurants serving sunflower seeds as a (free) snack. Do you like this? Admittedly I like it … but I will not be caught seen in public eating this. It is too feminine. Guys eat this only at home watching TV. For girls, it is cute seen eating this.

[ Please don’t flame me. I am just trying to provoke a reaction from you. 🙂 ]

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Their AYCE is $18 per person. This is excluding:

  • the soup
  • the condiments
  • the drinks
  • the taxes
  • the tips

Every hot pot places will advertise the AYCE price but if you add up everything, it will come up to at least $25 and close to $30. So if you don’t have a healthy money tree at your backyard, it is good to do your homework or you will feel the pinch when it comes to pay.

The above is their order form. It is not big. We had seen much bigger ones. It seems like they are still expanding the menu because they hand write the new choices on it. We don’t know what these new ones are as it is all in Chinese only.

We paid attention to the “Our Specials” section at the bottom left (click on image above if you want to enlarge it). There are four items on it and naturally we ticked all four.

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The condiments are $1 each. It’s quite OK at that price. I would be happy if it is 50 cents only. I can’t remember where now, but a recent hot pot place I went to was only 50 cents.

Oh wait … it is FREE in the Mongolian Hot Pot.

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I just like brand new tableware. Hey question … where do you go to buy these types of tableware? They are thicker, whiter and better quality than the ones we see in Asian grocery stores. We had been using the same Corning Ware ones for umpteen years already. I think it’s time to get new ones.

Here we go … to get myself physically prepared, I loosened my belt by one notch.

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Tada! The THREE soup hot pot.

This one costs … (more…)

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Spicy Legend on Kingsway and Joyce, Vancouver

Updated: 22nd Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.

It was another cold rainy day last week and that means only one thing to us when it comes to deciding what to eat for dinner.

I have a feeling that we are going to do a number of hot pot posts this next few months. With the snow already on the North Shore Mountains it constantly reminded me that this is going to be a long cold winter. Long term forecasts shows that there will be wet snow next week.

I am just bracing myself.

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Suanne and I had been meaning to visit the Spicy Legend for sometime already. So when the weather presented the opportunity, we drove to Kingsway and Joyce where the restaurant is.

Spicy Legend is a Sichuan Hot Pot restaurant. It is all you can eat at $19 per person. Soups and others extra of course, like the other places. All AYCE place will easily set you back $25 to $30 after accounting for everything. They are almost all the same price-wise. So don’t be taken in by the $18 or $19 per person signs outside the restaurant.

The only way you will only pay $18/$19 is if love raw meat and you dunk the meat into lukewarm glass of water. I think they will provide you a glass of hot water if you ask nicely.

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I had always wanted to go to Spicy Legend when they were a Mickey Mouse restaurant a few doors away (see above). I first found out about this place when the 8GTCC gang went looking for dinner. This old place was really small. I think it will sit about 12 people max with four tables only.

I had never seen any hot pot restaurants so small before but it sure was very busy then. You have to have a reservation back then.

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So they moved a few doors away. It is now a much much bigger place. Now, they can fit 50 – 70 people at least.

They open at 5:30 PM. So Suanne and I decided to go at 6:00 PM thinking that it would be just OK since the restaurant is much bigger.

Guess what.

The first thing we came through the door was the question “Do you have a reservation?”.

Their first sitting was already full! They explain that normally they can fit in walk-in customers but that day being a public holiday and the start to a long weekend, they are fully booked for the 1st sitting. She said that if we want she have a few tables left for the 8PM slot.

Not wanting to go elsewhere and quite determined to have hot pot that day, we decided to take that slot and went to do something else around Metrotown.

We came back at 15 mins before 8:00 PM and the place was packed. Despite us having that 8:00 PM reservation, we had to wait till 8:30 PM before we were finally given a table!!

It was a true test of our patience. LOL!

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You may click on the images above to enlarge it.

It is $19 per person. Soup base, sauces and condiments are extra. There is a 2 hour time limit which is more than enough time for us.

The soup base choices is complex. It comes in three sizes depending on the number of people you have. Then there is the spicy or non-spicy or a combination of both. They also have two fancier ones called Tea Plant Mushroom Soup Base and Black-bone Chicken Soup Base. In a place like this, you want the SPICY one.

Unlike other places, they ask you to specify how you want the spicy soup base. Listen to this … you have to specify the combination of SPICINESS and NUMBNESS on the scale of “big, medium or small”. Suanne and I debated on this for sometime. I wanted “big” on both spiciness and numbness but sanity prevailed. We went with “medium” on both spiciness and numbness.

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The burner they use is a built in electronic table burner. There are no naked flames and so we did not see one of those special purpose sprinkler pipes hanging from the ceiling here.

The burners are not very effective. It takes 2-3 minutes to bring the pot to boil unlike other places where it is powerful enough to boil the soup instantly.

Their tables are mobile which is something we had not seen before. They can fit a few tables together for bigger parties.

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As in most (not all) hot pot restaurants, the sauces and condiments are extra.

We wanted to order garlic ($1), cilantro (50 cents) and sesame paste ($1.50) but because of the way the order form were arranged, we got the fresh chili ($1) instead of the garlic. We decided to keep it.

It was a generous portion that they gave us. Other places were barely half of this. So we were pretty glad about it.

Suanne got the sesame paste (brownish sauce in picture above) because she learned from iSpicy that it is the best sauce with non-spicy soup base. For your info, the sesame oil is best with spicy soup base.

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We also ordered a jug of soy milk which is $5 and good for 3-4 glasses.

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The food came served on a side tray. I like that because I hate cluttered tables.

Yeah, our goal is have lots of beef and lamb and so we asked for extra servings. They gave us lots. Made us happy. 🙂

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We got mixed soup, spicy and non-spicy. The spicy soup does not … (more…)

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iSpicy Sichuan Hot Pot on Kingsway, Vancouver

Updated 23rd Oct 2014: This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

It was cold. It was damp.

And we were hungry as we drove along Kingsway looking for a place to eat. It was past 2PM already and we only had a cup of coffee and shared a bagel between us since morning. We were telling ourselves that half of the restaurants would probably be closed for the mid day.

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I caught a glimpse of the “All You Can Eat  $17.95” sign outside the restaurant and said Suanne maybe we should just try this place. It’s not in our list of restaurants to-try but I fancy hot pot. It was after all a cold day. Nothing but a Sichuan Hot Pot to spice things up.

iSpicy is an odd name. It sounded more like an internet cafe than a traditional hot pot restaurant. We went in and we were warmly welcomed. The owner and his wife barely speaks English. We are OK because we don’t need to know a lot of Chinese when it comes to AYCE and hot pot.

But as it turned out, we had a very interesting time there. We had a glimpse of what it is like in the struggles of a restaurant owner. We saw a human side of a smallish restaurant trying their very best to remain relevant in a very competitive sector of the economy. More about that later.

iSpicy is a really small restaurant. They have seats for about 20-25 people. Not big for an AYCE hot pot.

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It is only natural, I guess, to expect a smaller hot pot restaurant to charge cheaper. iSpicy’s hot pot is on par with other AYCE hot pot restarants in town. It is $18 for adult.

The choices on the menu is smaller too. We know that for places with larger menu, most of the menu items are fluff. To us the most important thing is the quality of the meat, the beef in particular.

I was a bit confused about the hotpot base. They have a few sizes — small, large and extra large. They crossed out the extra large because it really doesn’t make sense. In most places they charge by the pot and not the size of the pot. The hotpot base does not have the fancy flavours that some places has. It is the spicy soup base that is their primary offering.

As usual we opted for the half-half and said that for the spicy side, it has to be “da-la” (big spicy). The owner told me that I should just go with the middle spicy owe as his da-la might be too much for me. Good thing I did not stick to my original choice!

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The mixed soup base is $8.50 extra. The non-spicy side is made of pork bone. We were asked to taste the soup and he pointed out that the broth is not salted.

We also tasted the Sichuan soup base. It was really spicy. It had big dried red pepper pieces swimming in a very visible layer of red colored oil.

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We later learned that the chef made the sichuan soup base himself from scratch. He told us that it takes … (more…)

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Shabusen Yakiniku House on Burrard and Robson, Vancouver

It was Arkensen’s birthday some weeks ago. So, the birthday boy gets to choose where he wanted to go eat. We already know what he wants. His favourite food, other than fried rice, is sushi. Quality is secondary to quantity. He loves lots of it. Sometimes he would eat and eat until he suddenly stops and tell us he feel sick. That’s my boy!

Sigh … Suanne and I had resigned to fate that my two boys will never take over chowtimes some day. Just last weekend, I asked if he reads chowtimes at all. Sheepishly, he told us “not a lot”.

“Oh? Like once a week?”, I asked.

“No. Longer than that”, he smiled.

Arkensen hardly ever reads chowtimes it seems. He just have no interest in food. However, I think someday when he is much older, he will be able to look back on what his dad wrote about him and be able to recall the hundreds of meals we had together. This will be priceless I know. His younger brother on the other hand reads chowtimes everyday.

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Anyway, there are not many good Japanese AYCEs (All-you-can-eat) around. Last fall, we had a great time at the Shabusen Yakiniku on Granville and so I thought this time we go to this other Shabusen in downtown.

I did not have a good start. When I called for reservation, the person on the line sounded quite brusque. He sounded like he was unhappy to entertain my questions regarding parking and prices. In my usual self, I shrugged it aside but that first impression was not good. Anyway, it was Arkensen’s birthday and if he looked forward to eating there, I’ll go.

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We were there early as we usually like to start meals before the crowd came in. At 11:30AM, the place was quiet but it was not for long. The place was filled with customers at peak lunch time.

Service was good, prompt and polite, although impersonal. There were none of the brusque behaviour I encountered earlier on the phone.

The interior has the same elaborate decor like the other Shabusen on Granville. We like it.

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The restaurant is large too and they have great seats. There is even a section where you get to sit in a boat! That was kind of fun but that boat/table is meant for larger parties.

So we got seated by the window overlooking Burrard Street. If there is anything I am most impressed about both Shabusens, it is their location, decor and views.

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Shabusen is a Japanese sushi and Korean BBQ AYCE restaurant. The AYCE menu is simple and is all on the 1-pager menu.

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Our strategy this time was to concentrate on the BBQ and get only a bit of sushi. Or at least that was what our intention were.

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The BBQ was lovely. The last time we had EIGHT bowls of the meat but this time we only had TWO. This is all because we totally over ordered the sushis and was forced to bail out the boys when they started saying they felt sick!

What a waste! Suanne and I was looking on gorging ourselves on the BBQ.

If you had never tried the Korean BBQ here before, I think you will like it. Sure, the meat here isn’t top notch but it is tasty with the sweet sauce and marinates. They even have a big bottle of sweet sauce that we use as a dip. So you can just imagine how moist the meat were.

Moreover, we love the nice smell of the BBQ. One thing though, you need to have … (more…)

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Fatty Cow Seafood Hot Pot on Victoria Dr and 35th Ave, Vancouver

When it comes to hot pot, Richmond has a lot of choices. As a matter of fact, most of the top Chinese hot pot restaurants are found in Richmond. Just to name a few … Chubby Lamb, Hot Pot One, Point Zero Four Fusion, Garden City Hot Pot, and Mongolian Hot Pot.

There is a new one newly opened in Vancouver that I think will give Richmond’s hot pot restaurants a run for the money.

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We heard of rave reviews about Fatty Cow. We also heard that they are expensive too. Hot Pot meals are not cheap anyway and one could easily expect to spend $20 upwards anywhere you go. So even if Fatty Cow was expensive, it was just a few dollars more. So that did not deter us since it was just two of us.

Fatty Cow is located on Victoria Drive at the intersection of 35th Ave. From the outside, Fatty Cow looks very impressive and modern.

We were there early again. When we walked in at 5PM, they were just finishing setting up for the dinner. They open only at 5:30PM and asked that we return later. You know, I wish that restaurants have the sense to allow customers to just take a seat and explain that they are not ready. A simple gesture like that does not take much on the part of the restaurant but customers not only will understand, they will be appreciative.

Well, there was no where to go and it was not exactly a warm day. So we waited in the car until 5:30PM.

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Fatty Cow has got to be one of the prettiest looking hot pot restaurants we had ever been to. It was still new. They had just opened barely a month ago. Everything has a glint to it. Even the workers wears suit like they do in high end Chinese restaurants.

Service is excellent — from the captain to the staff who came by all the time to fill our tea and top up the soup. They even come by every now and then to help us check the temperature. Each time I reach for the controls at the side of the table, often someone will come by and help.

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Don’t you like the new dishware and utensils? We do. It was so sparkling clean. They are even logo’d. Not many hot pot restaurants bother to create a logo/branding for their restaurants unless they are branches of successful hot pot restaurants in Asia. So I was just wondering if Fatty Cow is one of such branches.

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One thing we did not like about Fatty Cow is that they charges extra for sauces. Each serving is 50 cents. The above three is free but if you want additional ones, you gotta pay for it.

The three they gave us was the soy sauce, sesame and sar char. They were excellent. We particularly like the soy sauce which is light and sweet. Good thing they gave us an entire bowl of it.

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Since we like raw garlic we got the above as an extra … 50 cents. Next time we come to Fatty Cow, we will bring our own condiments in small plastic containers.

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Click on the menu above for a larger image. As you can see, it is not cheap. It is $20 per person for Monday through Thursday and $21 for Friday to Sunday. And that is just the start. That price does not include the soup base. The soup base is another $7 and $8.50 if you want a double soup. Good thing is the soup base is charged per table and not per person.

There is a very good selection of meat, dumplings, vegetables, seafood, and noodles. They even have premium seafood items which again comes as extra. You can see how the prices could just add up easily.

No, we did not get the premium seafood items. Too expensive.

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For the soup base, we opted for a double soup base. The left side is called the Fatty Cow Hot and Spicy. We wouldn’t have ordered this if not for the fact they branded this with their name.

The milky soup base on the left side was recommended by the captain as their most popular soup base. This is called spare ribs broth.

I like their burner. It is very responsive. It will boil up the soup in just 3 seconds the moment you crank it up and you could stop the boiling instantaneously too.

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The Fatty Cow Hot and Spicy soup base is just that — SPICY. There are lots of peppercorns in it. See above? The above is just one scoop from the soup base. Frankly I felt it was way too much. So much that we ended up scooping it off to the plate and added it back to the broth if we want to spice it up.

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As for the Spare Rib Broth, it was very good. There are a lot of beansprout and even pieces of pork in it. We took the beansprout out because we like the broth not so “busy”.

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This thing above is wonderful. It is in the snack section of the menu …

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… Fried Fish Skin. It is light and tasted wonderful. They said they make it themselves. It was oily but was just so crispy. This is one snack you should get to start off the meal.

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To make your money worthwhile, you should just focus first on … (more…)

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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…)

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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…)

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