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Monday, 13 February 2012

All You Can Eat Sushi–Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant

It had been a weird day ever since I woke up at 12 noon (I have no shame in saying that, and I bet you woke up +/- 1 hour of my waking time too) because I went through at least 3 different food cravings over 8 hours.  First, I craved the beef fried rice from Green Leaf.  Then I craved fast food and fries.  Third, I wanted to eat cake.  At the end of it all, I got none of those and settled on sushi.  Which totally makes sense if you think about it.  Anyways, back in school days I organized many an ayce outing to Tomokazu on W. Broadway near Oak when I had grown used to sushi.
Then Ninkazu opened up.  Owned by the same people and considered a higher end sister store of Tomokazu, Ninkazu makes its home in prime real estate in downtown Richmond just across from Aberdeen mall.  Since then, my sushi tastes had broadened and I discovered better sushi, so I hadn’t come here for a while.  Ninkazu remains one of my favourite places for ayce sushi and reminiscing those days, I was headed here tonight.

Ninkazu is located in the complex just south of Aberdeen across from the newly opened and ever popular H-Mart.  I consider my self lucky to have found parking easily today and in ample volume, but usually this tiny parking lot shared by about 10 business is PACKED and its excruciatingly painful to find parking.  I’ve had to be tactful and find parking a few minutes walk away.  But I’m not revealing my secrets here, no way.

As you can see, their late night (9:30 pm and later) ayce menu is pretty average sized and not as big as their dinner ayce menu.  Understandably so as the dinner ayce menu is priced at $19.95 and is almost twice as big.  They also have a deluxe menu for $22.95.  I like my inexpensive food and I’ve always been content with their $12.95 menu so that’s what I chose today.  As can be expected from any ayce restaurant, they sometimes forget some of your order to give you less than you ordered but hey, $12.95 for all I can freakin’ eat so just bring it. IMG_3511

IMG_3513 IMG_3523

OBVIOUSLY, sashimi is a given.  And as you might know by know, I don’t like tuna sashimi so salmon is always my choice.  Salmon sashimi here has been decent on most occasions and I can only remember one time when the sashimi was, to quote a buddy, rancid.  Ok, it wasn’t RANCID, so to speak, but it was cold
icy and weirdly cut that one time.  Bleh.  But only that one time.  Today, like almost every other time, it was decent.  Fresh, soft and delicious.  Not the best I’ve ever had (probably Ichiro/Takeya) but above average.  One thing to note is that, from past experiences, they tend to skimp on their sashimi orders, especially 2nd and 3rd orders which have come in sequentially smaller quantities haha.  The agedashi tofu was the usual.  Nothing more for me to say about that.

Next up, our rolls and miso soups came by.  We decided not to fill up on california rolls, probably a good decision, and try a few more things than we usually do.  We ordered some california roll, yam tempura roll, dynamite roll, and spicy tuna and chopped scallop cones.  Food was pretty fresh and generally is due to the high volume of customers and high turnover so we were pleased.  The rolls were a standard affair and nothing out of the ordinary.  I really enjoyed the chopped scallop and spicy tuna cones though.  I guess they just really hit the spot.  And maybe I’m starting to become a fan of spicy tuna.  Props to Takeya for that, for getting me to appreciate good spicy tuna haha.  One thing I’d say is that they could use more spicy tuna in their cones.  The spicy tuna content can best be described as lacking.  I didn’t have any of the dynamite roll because shrimp makes me throw up =( so I can’t comment on that but Fabio and Mooseman devoured that and were seen licking their lips after.  Personally, I like the yam tempura rolls quite a bit and I savoured the fresh and hot yam tempura filling which I should mention was in generous in quantity.  As far as the miso soup goes, something was amiss but none of us could figure out what =S. 
I also got an order of unagi fried rice and the samosas and spring rolls.  The unagi fried rice was a fail.  The rice tasted and felt stale; it wasn’t soft, fragrant or moist, and there wasn’t nearly enough unagi in there.  Seriously, I must have got maybe 4 pieces at most!  And they were TINY pieces at that.  So I didn’t really taste the unagi.  I’ll never get this dish again =(.  I wouldn’t even describe it as fried rice; its more accurate to call it… soy sauce stale rice.
Now these spring rolls and samosas aren’t by any means good but I always like to order them because they offer a change in taste from the standard sushi I eat everywhere else.  These 2-bite sized bad boys are stuffed with scant amounts of potato and ginger paste (or so it would seem) and delivered with some tangy sauce.  They really are more crunchy deep fried batter than they are samosas or spring rolls but they’re alright.
The salmon teriyaki is a must get for me.  That’s one order you see above.  These filets of samon are grilled to a mild crunch on one side with the rest of it still being soft all of topped with teriyaki sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  mmmmm.  Brings water to your mouth just looking at it doesn’t it?

And lastly, our salmon, tuna and hokkigai sushi.  For someone who is OCD about order and organization, the presentation of these pieces is definitely fulfilling.  Heck just looking at these photos makes me smile haha.  I was temped to not eat it and preserve the beauty of this delivery.  Except that one tuna sushi piece seems to be separated from its family and the tuna sushi family seems to have a distinctly uneven representation on this plate.  The minority.  Kind of like me in Richmond.  Not that I care that there wasn’t more tuna sushi because I didn’t even eat any.  OK I’m tangenting.

The salmon sushi was actually really satisfying.  The slivers of salmon sashimi was fresh and better than the sashimi we had at the start of the meal and the rice here was fresh too.  They must have used a new batch or rice or something compared to the soy sauce stale rice.  Anyhow, I devoured these guys.  The tuna were left for Mooseman and Fabio and they didn’t complain about anything so I take it those were good too.  I had to get the hokkigai in honor of Turtle; she LOVES hokkigai.  These pieces were pretty average.  Nothing really out of the ordinary, just what you’d find anywhere else.  

On the whole, Ninkazu is an above average restaurant.  Service is prompt except when they're really busy but that can be pretty normal.  The food is good too.  For the average a la carte eater, there are definitely better sushi restaurants around but for all you can eat  in and around this area, Ninkazu is my favourite.  The food is better than what you find at other ayce serving places like Richmond Sushi and Matsuyama and its pretty centrally located  as well.  Its my #1 recommendation for late night or weekend ayce sushi and it has been for years.  And it probably will continue to be unless some place spectacular opens up at a competitive price.

The Yummies:
-  Food is good
-  All you can eat sushi is available all day and affordable on weekends and late night (open till midnight)
-  They have mango pudding on their ayce menu! (I didn't get to have any today though)

The Yuckies:
-  Parking can be a royal pain
-  Not the best a la carte place
-  Unagi fried rice dish was a complete failure today (don't know if this is usual)

Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Ying Yao said...

Yes... stay away from the unagi fried rice... there's like no unagi and lots of rice that fills you up quickly~

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