Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Aoki Sushi = Oishi Sushi!

Aoki sushi, what can I say? It's one of my favourite sushi restaurants. My only complaint is they're not open 24 hours a day for my personal convenience. The owner of this little shop on Broadway is an eccentric oji-san who greets everyone that comes it and thanks then as they leave. It's hard to miss the owner he's usually wearing a Pikachu mask or a faux chonmage (samurai hairstyle). I think he's great, and he must have a lot of regulars because I always hear him engage in some kind of a personal greeting with customers. Aoki isn't a fancy place or anything, but it does have a homely feel to it, and I always feel welcome.
A mini-appetizer and hot tea is served the minute you sit down, and it's on the house. Usually it's salmon chunks with some negi (green onion) and a bit of ponzu sauce (I think it's ponzu).
Whenever I go to a new sushi restaurant, I always order the chirashi-don. It's my silly way of guaging if I will go back and try anything else. For me, if the chirashi-don is good, the rest of the menu will likely be ok. I know, it's strange, but it tells me a lot. It tells me if they're using good rice or low-grade stuff, if they know how to cook it, if it's been sitting there too long. Also, the cuts of sashimi will tell me about the freshness of the seafood, if the restaurant is generous or stingy about the portions, it will tell me if the chef has any imagination about what is put into it. If it comes with tamago, does the restaurant make their own, or do they buy it premade? If my chirashi-don comes with only salmon, tuna, generic tamago, tako, and a few sprinkles of masago, it tells me that the chef has no imagination, and is likely a bit stingy, or is on orders from the owner to be stingy. I look to see if the wasabe is ground from the root or mixed from the powder - freshly ground wasabe, or at least packaged ground wasabe is a huge bonus for me, but most places don't do this because it's pretty expensive.

Aoki Sushi's chirashi-don is phenominal. It's massive, and comes with a wonderful selection of seafood. Most often, I will find at least two different types of salmon (sockeye and atlantic), two different types of tuna (plus toro), avacado (which some say tastes like toro when mixed with shoyu, rice, and wasabi)tai, hamachi, tako, ebi, tamago, tako, some pickles....the list goes on.

Pictured here is me with the regular chirashi-don. They've got a deluxe version which I haven't tried yet......why is that? I really don't have a clue why I haven't tried it yet.....next time I go, I'll have to give it a shot.

I've tried some other menu items, and they're all really good, but my favourite at Aoki is the chirashi-don. The price is more than reasonable for what you get, the service is quick, but friendly, and the quality of the food is fantastic.
I've read some other reviews complaining about the udon, or the tempura, or the atmosphere. I don't understand why anyone would go to a sushi restaurant and order udon or tempura. For me, udon is something you make at home (and if you can't, you're a complete moron). Unfortunately, there are no dedicated tempura shops here in Vancouver, but when I go to Aoki SUSHI, I go there for the sushi. And as far as atmosphere is concerned, if I wanted something fancy/trendy, I'd go to an izakaya. Some of the nicest sushi restaurants in Japan are very plain in appearance. The sushi itself should really be the only visual thing you should be concentrating on. If a place relies too much on atmosphere and presentation, it tells me that their sushi is probably pretty run of the mill.
I go to Aoki at least once a month, but if they were open longer hours, I'd probably go there more often than that.
Aoki Sushi can be found at:
1888 W BroadwayVancouver, BC
(604) 731-5577

Aoki Sushi on Urbanspoon

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