Friday, October 15, 2010

An Experiment in Japanese Cuisine

On my errand running early Friday evening, I decided to stop off at a local Japanese restaurant, Nikkuyu.  I always seem to forget that this particular place specializes mostly in sashimi and their selection of other foods is minimal. While I usually like sashimi, I generally eat it very sparingly. I also like sushi but not the nouveau favourite around here which is California rolls. This roll tends to find it's way into most combination dishes in Vancouver and I really don't like it. I think I probably had too much of it when I first started eating Japanese sushi.

Not really knowing what I wanted and having another few small errands ahead of me I opted for the following dishes.

BBQ beef enoki - this is thin slices of cooked beef wrapped around a bunch of enoki (Japanese mushrooms) and covered with some kind of sauce. The waitress got my order wrong as I had actually ordered BBQ beef and bamboo shoots with prawns but until I ate it I didn't really know the difference, lol. It was surprisingly very chewy. The dish looks like the one below though I had two pieces on my plate.

This photograph was imported from Flickr. It was originally taken by Flickr user Loozrboy and the original photo can be found here:

For  my main course, I had a combination dish which came with miso soup and salad with miso dressing.  The main plate came with two kinds of sashimi (raw fish): salmon (3 pieces) and tuna (2 large pieces). The fish was fresh and very rich.  It came with 3 small spring rolls and a dipping sauce that was somewhat sweet and spicy. The main part of the dish was unagi don. I asked first what unagi was and discovered it was eel.  I've never tried eel so I decided to be adventurous.

Unagi Don Photo credit:
My beverage tonight was cold water. Then I decided to have a Kokanee (Canadian) beer as well since the restaurant does not serve pale ale.

Overall I was disappointed in my dinner selections.  I've eaten several times at this restaurant and it has never disappointed me but I could not say that tonight.

I expected the BBQ beef to be tastier and I was dissatisfied with the texture of the combination of beef and enoki.  Perhaps I just need to get used to the enoki mushrooms but since I've liked every mushroom I've ever eaten before, I'm not sure this is the problem.

The miso soup and green salad were okay but I've had better.  The fresh fish was quite good.  Five (5) generous pieces is a lot so I left half a piece of tuna and a half piece of salmon behind. I'm hoping what I did eat was filled with good Omega 3 oil as I need to watch my cholesterol levels.

The unagi don was massive. It came with 3 big pieces of eel (actually 6 that were "hung" together) piled on top of a humongous portion of white rice. The sauce that was poured over the eel and rice was a bit sweet and there was far too much of it.  It made the rice inedible.  The eel itself was like a "fleshy" fish and it was rather soft.  It didn't taste too bad at all.

The three spring rolls were very small and very hard.  Even with the delicious dipping sauce it didn't compensate for it being of a very tough texture.  The Canadian beer was fine though I didn't finish it all.

Altogether I found my solo dinner  an expensive and disappointing feast at $22.30 which included taxes but not the tip. I had an attentive waiter so I left a fair tip.  I don't feel so bad about spending the funds though it is extravagant for me. I very seldom eat out anymore. And that's a good thing.

I did have some entertainment while I ate.  A man came in with his two young boys who were I would guesstimate about ages 2 and 6 or 7, respectively. Both of the boys were eager to eat sashimi and sushi.  The boy who I guess is about 6 or 7 years old ordered for the family and I was super impressed. Then both boys got their chopsticks and soy sauce and wasabi ready. When the tuna sashimi arrived first, they both tucked in with gusto. These 3 guys had massive amounts of sushi, sashimi and tempura before they finished dinner.

Though I was super impressed with how these young boys were so habituated to Japanese food, I also felt rather sad. I felt sad because it is obvious that these boys do get to experience such outings on a regular basis and that the parents are exposing them to world cuisines, etc. That is a good thing, but all I could think about were the starving children in Africa (where my heart is) and how the village children in Africa likely wouldn't know a thing about Japanese food.  Rather they would be so happy to get a serving of ugali and sukuma wiki on a regular basis and to get a chance to go to school.
Ugali: Photo credit:
Greens are sukuma wiki. Photo credit:
I'm travelling to Africa next month and I will make sure I don't eat out too much before then so I don't waste my  money.  I've already been fortunate enough to have exposure to so many other cultures and their foods.

I would love to hear from you if you are a parent or grandparent. I'm interested in hearing how you raise your children/grandchildren and whether you expose them to other cultures by eating out or through other means. This would be very eye opening for me I'm sure.


Ginny Hartzler said...

Wonderful food pictures, and you were so brave to try the eel! I would have thrown up! But when you think about it, snails are considered a delicacy, and look at squid! This makes eels seem not as bad as some things! Our 4 year old granddaughter is chinese, and she loves going to Chinese restaraunts. Chinese used to be her favorite, but Mexican seems to have replaced it.

Joyful said...

Hi Ginny, I try to be adventurous in my eating and have sampled a lot of different things in my lifetime, including snails, frogs legs, kangaroo, etc. When I get to Africa, I may be eating at a well known restaurant where they serve meats I've never sampled yet. If I do, I will write about it here. Your young granddaughter is doing well to have sampled Chinese and Mexican already.

Jan said...

Very descriptive, thanks for sharing. We didn't eat out when my chldren were young, though I know my grandchildren eat out a lot nowadays.
Love and blessings,

Kilauea Poetry said...

Fish blather:
My son loves Eel..he had me try some at a local Japaneese restaurant he and his friends frequent. It was pretty good but don't feel bad, I've been kinda disappointed eating out (hubby too)and it can happen most anywhere! Your point was good, and like you say, it's expensive anyway and I think I make (most) food better at home (what I've learned). I luv luv what is referred to as sash here- and although shashimi is common to the Islands, I've never understood why I've always enjoyed fish so much? See, the only fish my mom would enjoy was salmon -out of the can!! oh, and fish sticks on occasion! lol)) My dad ?? he just ate what she fixed but enjoys fish. My husband's mother's side liked it (his brothers are fishers and divers)- yet their dad's side eats red meat and lots of pork. We eat sash and fish in general almost every week. Nice photos..

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