Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hanami Restaurant

The definition of confusion - a Japanese restaraunt that has a sign that says Dim Sum.  Actually, that's not entirely surprising here in Richmond.  Two popular foods in Richmond - Dim Sum and Sushi, leave it up to the Chinese to capitalize on this.  I worked at the airport years and years ago, and I knew of the existence of this restaraunt, but it never, ever crossed my mind to eat there.

A few days ago, there was a big Iaido seminar over in Nanaimo and we had three sensei from Japan here to attend it.  On this particular day, they were heading back to Japan and we were seeing them off at Vancouver International Airport.  There wasn't quite enough time to take them into Richmond for proper Dim Sum so I remembered this place at the airport.
Haha, this is just about as bad as those places that have Pho and Sushi, or Sushi and Korean BBQ, or Korean BBQ and Chinese Hot Pot.  Throw in a little all-you-can-eat in there and you'll be guaranteed the lowest grade of food one can safely buy.  Dim Sum Sushi Lounge were printed on the chopstick packet....my sensei jokingly asked if it was also supposed to be an izakaya.
For some reason, I thought it was actually two restaraunts that shared the same entrance.  Not true.  The motif of this place is definitely Japanese, and very obviously Chinese-run, with one token Japanese waitress.  I have to tell you, it was weird to eat dim sum with a kaiten sushi bar.
Against my advice, one of the sensei decided to try Japanese food at this establishment.  He ordered the tempura udon, and his first taste was the tempura that came with it.  Tempura is hard to screw up (but it does happen sometimes), and with his first bite, I was surprised to hear him say it tasted ok.  When he tried the udon, he said it was "mazui" and mumbled a few other words to the effect of the udon being worse than frozen instant udon.  I believe him.

I knew the owners were probably Chinese, so I decided to stay with something Chinese chefs are good at - Chinese food.  I ordered several dishes from their dim sum menu, which were horrendously overpriced (average of about $5.00 a dish) and promised that the next time the sensei visited Vancouver, I'd take them to a real Dim Sum restaraunt.
The first to arrive was the BBQ Pork Pastry, which turned pretty bad.  The BBQ Pork was ok, a little on the sweet side, but the pastry was raw in some parts.  The outside was nice and flaky, but then you get a chewy raw bit of pastry and it just ruins the whole thing. 
The Hagao (ebi shumai) was okay, but not great.  The skin was a little on the dry side considering they just came out of the steamer/microwave.
The Black Bean Pork Short Ribs were decent, a bit lean for my personal taste, but overall, not bad.  The bone came right off, and there weren't giant hunks of cartilidge which is always good.
The Siumai were okay, but probably spent a bit too long in the steamer.  You can tell this by the color of the tobiko( or masago or whatever they use) on top that they've been overcooked.  They still tasted okay though.
Sticky Rice wraps were pretty good, nice and moist inside, very flavourful. 

The majority of the food tasted ok, not great, just ok.  The ambience is ridiculous - Dim Sum in an Japanese restaraunt setting.  The service for the most part was a bit better than Hon's.  The one Japanese waitress had clearly been hanging out with her other co-workers a bit too long and had initially greeted us with a little contempt written on her face.  It wasn't until she heard some of our guests speaking Japanese that she sort of lightened up a bit, but was still using informal/casual Japanese, which isn't really appropriate for a server to use with customers

Would I go back?  No, I would not go back to this place, ever.  I should have known better, but really, YVR doesn't have a whole lot to offer.....in retrospect, we should have gone to Coho, or at least a proper Dum Sum place in Richmond, but there simply wasn't enough time. 

Hanami Restaurant (Before Security, International Level 3) on Urbanspoon

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