Friday, November 04, 2011

Two Sushi Places to Avoid

(Quick update: Osaka has updated their menu, changed their servers and food is - well, it's better. A great thing in their favour is that they have TVs so you can watch the game while you chat with friends and eat your teriyaki and sushi. And very reasonably priced local beer, too.I have not been back to Daikichi yet but will let you know when I have done so).

Anyone who lives here, or indeed has just wandered about as a tourist for a day or two knows Vancouver is jammed with little sushi joints. They are cheap, the food is quick to prepare and serve, and the ingredients are fresh - well, mostly fresh. Visits to two places on Burrard just north of Pacific and directly across the street from each other - Osaka Sushi & Daikichi Sushi proved to be exceptions. One's food was a little too fresh, the other's very very old.

Now, I've frequented both over the years they've been in the neighbourhood and although not greatly impressive (how hard can it be to roll up short grained sticky rice and chopped fish in a sheet of nori) the proximity is a great incentive on a rainy night.

Here's what happened at Osaka about 2 months ago. New management. Late summer. Balmy. Sunset. A friend wanted some teriyaki. I just wanted edamame and a beer (at $2.49, a great price!). The place was not busy, maybe two other tables had diners. They were open for another hour. We sat outside. The menus were dropped on the table. Less than a minute later the server rushed out again. "What you order?" She was obviously pushing us to order and move on - quickly. So we ordered. Food was produced, and served in the same manner as the menus. We were not made to feel welcome - in fact the attitude seemed to be one of resentment that she actually had to work. So we ate. As the plates were emptied they were scooped away and the bill produced while she cleared the last bits from the table. We paid and left. We did not feel the least bit guilty at leaving no tip.

I did make one more attempt about a week later. I love smoked eel so ordered some on rice. I've eaten eel before and know how it should be served - cooked! Uncooked it is a slimy, gross mess. Give 'em credit though. Each 1inch x 4 inch paper thin slice was grilled perfectly - but only the first 2 inches of each slice! The rest was raw slimy mess. I set it aside intending to tell the server; and ate the rice. What the heck, I'm willing to give the benefit of a doubt and I was hungry. At the end of the meal the server, a different one from the previous week, came to take away the bowl. I showed her the raw eel. Told her it wasn't cooked. She suggested to me that perhaps I didn't know about food. I told her that I had eaten eel many times at Osaka, and this is not cooked. A this point I'm insulted and getting indignant. She goes to the cook. She brings me the bill. No apology, which would have sufficed, no 'how can we fix this for you?', no offer of a discount or a free coffee, just the bill. I paid and left. No tip. No ever going back either.

So what to do when I get a sushi craving? Go across the street to Daikichi. Slightly better food plus you get a flavourful miso with most orders. The folks there have always been friendly and to tell the truth, the food was always better than Osaka's. Well damn! New faces, new management. Had a decently so-so meal. Left a tip. When my brother visited, I took him there. Another decently so-so meal. Left a tip. Went back a few days later. The cook is hovering over a little guy who is studiously stirring a pot of something. Cook is berating little guy. Server is watching anxiously from the safety of the dining area. We order. Bro asks for chicken teriyaki on rice. I ask for salmon teriyaki on rice. Food comes. Bro eats just about anything. But he is also a cook by profession. I look at my salmon, expecting something pink, grilled, flaky. I get burnt, breaded, dried-out, hard, yellowish stuff. Not salmon and with a distinct after taste of unpleasantness. Bro tastes it. Nope, definitely burnt, breaded, unpleasant, not-salmon. I eat the rice. Server clears the bowl, sees I've left the not-salmon. I tell the server this is burnt. It's not salmon. "Oh yes. It is salmon. I tell cook." She tells cook. She comes back with the bill. No apology. No "how can we fix this for you?", no offer of a discount, no offer of a free coffee. At that point my bro hands her $20. She says "This not enough". He says, "She's not paying for burnt food. She ordered salmon. This is not salmon." We left. No tip. Bro confesses later that he spent the next few hours on the toilet getting rid of his chicken teriyaki.

I love my brother.

There is also another sushi place, a pho shop that serves great vietnamese coffee, a few more cafes, and a lovely coffee bar - all in the same block. And a few Thai places, award-winning sushi places, award-winning Greek places, etc. just a few blocks away on Davie Street. 

Wonder if they serve smoked eel or salmon? Sure they do. :)

ps I tried to use google maps but it's just plain wrong. Sorry.
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