I was meeting my buddy Woody for dinner and we decided to have sushi at Metrotown, where was close to his work. This area is definitely an unfamiliar territory for me. As I turned to Zomato and Yelp, Isami Sushi caught my attention with 3 things: decent ratings, owned and operated by Japanese chefs, and a location that’s easy to find.
When we walked in around 6:30pm and it was not too busy yet. We were seated in the middle of a column of small tables, which was quite close to the sushi bar. I don’t mind sitting at the sushi bar where you usually only have to be face to face to one sushi chef. But sitting at this table, I feel like all 3 chefs behind the sushi bar were staring down at us. It felt a little uncomfortable.
I noticed that the 3 server ladies were pretty quick moving around, but they rarely made eye contacts with any of the diners. Although I felt rude waving one of them down to ask for something, I didn’t seem to have other choices.
Also I hardly saw any smiles at anyone of the staff. During the meal the whole vibe at the restaurant was not exactly friendly.
We ordered the Jo Sashimi Set ($15) with 7 kinds of sashimi. The variety of the seafood was pretty standard. Although I’d love to see Sockeye instead of Atlantic salmon, I guess having Hamachi kind of made up for it. The quality was pretty good, although not super amazing. For sensory pleasure of eating sashimi, beside the freshness and the taste of the seafood, the thickness and the presentation of the food matter too. I don’t expect something extravaganza, but at least a sense of effort.
As a fan of avocado, I find the Caterpillar Roll ($9.50) quite tasty as the avocado was super fresh, But I wish they had put in a bit more Unagi. Without the essence of Unagi, this would just taste like California Roll with some special sauce on the side.
We ordered a couple pieces of the Aburi Toro Nigiri ($6). They had it on their daily special black board but without a price. I found the size of of tuna belly quite generous on the nigiri, and the rice quite nice. But I think it could have a bit smoky flavour from torching the fish, but not from the huge piece of fried garlic chip and the BBQ sauce. It was not bad, but for $6, I would like to see a little bit more finesse on it.
We also got the Chicken Karaage ($7.50), which turned out to be my most favourite dish of the evening. The chicken was seasoned and fried perfectly, and the meat was quite moist and flavourful under all that crispy skin.
The quality of food here at Isami was not bad. The seafood used in our Sashimi Combo, Caterpillar Roll, and Aburi Toro was pretty fresh. And the Chicken Karaage was perfectly fried. The portion was slightly on the generous side here and we were surprised we didn’t have to order more food after only 4 dishes and sharing a large Sapporo beer. The sushi and sashimi dishes could use a bit more finesse, the little something extra to separate great sushi from good sushi. And I love the friendly outfits on the server ladies, but would love to see their friendly smile a bit more too.
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