Sunday, January 1, 2012

Misplaced my Sushi Medley at Organic Lives

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The Organic Lives downtown location at the Chopra Yoga Centre wasn't open New Year's Eve, so regulars had to swarm their near-the-Olympic-Village location. At close to 5pm, it was very busy and there was quite the lineup at the counter. Between waiting to order, and then waiting for our order, there was enough time to get in a good chat with NeRai of The Star Captains, a local band that was scheduled to play that New Year's Eve night at the prestigious Fairmont from 10pm to 2am.

It turns out NeRai is into alternative health choices such as crystal healing and moving-toward-raw veganism. She had come by for one of Organic Lives's three types of sushi, and a large bottle of raw organic coconut water.

My friend and I were headed toward Van Dusen Gardens and the annual Festival of Lights (basically plants dead in the winter dressed up with dazzling Christmas lights) and wanted to pick up some finger food to snack on along the way for dinner. We opted for the Sushi Medley: All three kinds of sushi (but no discount, alas).

The Full Medley, all three of our fabulous flavours for sharing $ 21
  • Sprouted Pecan: A perfect storm with sprouts, veggies, avocado and mango
  • Sprouted Walnut: All about fresh cucumber, cilantro, avocado and carrots
  • Sea Veggie and Rice: A medley of sea and ground veggies wrapped in our "rice"

Each length of sushi cuts into eight pieces and they don't chop off the ends to make nice rolls. So, if you had length of cucumber or carrot that stuck out at the end, it didn't get wasted by being chopped off. All three rolls fit tightly into a large biodegradable take-out box, and come with two citrus-y ginger-y containers of dipping sauce. There's not too much heat/bite with the ginger, but the flavour of the sauce is still strong enough that you should not overdo it -- basically the same advice when using soy sauce on regular sushi: Too much and all you taste is soy sauce.

At the higher-end sushi places you will sometimes NOT get any soy sauce or wasabi at all because everything has been "made perfectly". With so much vegetable content, I found the sushi a bit too bland for my taste without using the provided sauce -- like eating salad with no dressing. You don't want to overdo it, certainly, but you definitely want something on it.

As far as portions go, the Full Medley makes a light meal for two persons as there's no rice to provide the usual filling feeling. The tastes mostly blended together and I couldn't always tell which was which except the Sprouted Pecan, which had a nice sweetness to it and stood apart from the others. There's also some sauce to them, and as they sit on their cross sections (so that you can see difference from the three types when you grab it, I suppose), if they sit long enough in a takeout box, some of that thick sauce will ooze out.

Price-wise, at $7 for 8 pieces of makizushi (roll sushi) it's on the steep size. You're paying almost a buck per piece for a standard small piece of sushi (rather than the fat 2 to 2.5 inch wide futozushi). If you're not keen on raw, organic, and vegan; or if you feel shellfish is the only thing that should up the price of a sushi roll, you might feel ripped off paying what can look like 2x to 3x regular price per roll (depending on where you go). That said, depending on where you go, some sushi does weigh in at $7 or more per roll. For omnivores making a price comparison, you might try The Eatery's mega-menu.

For drinks while we waited, I tried the "Brain On" shooter (Blue Green Algae with PEA Boost; $3), while my friend settled on a "Red Fire" (Carrot, Beet, Apple, Ginger; $7).

The Brain On is disgusting. Fortunately, it's a shooter, so it should go down fast -- the best way to take bitter medicine. It's not really meant to be tasty, but good for you. It's still gross, like tasting green pond water.

The Red Fire was on the milder side, not too sweet and not too much bite from the ginger. It also comes in a very tall glass which very nearly submerges the prone-to-breaking biodegradable vegetable cellulose bioplastic straws used by Organic Lives.

The busy-ness of the day probably contributed to the unreasonably long wait. There was apparently some confusion or lack of coordination between the service staff and the kitchen, because we saw what we thought was our order filled by the chef (at the bar you can peek into the spacious kitchen) and sitting on the shelf ready to go, but no one touched it. Was it for us or was it another takeout order? Finally NeRai and I inquired about our orders, but by then it'd been transferred from the shelf into the big walk-in fridge at the back. Fortunately it was sushi and it easily survived the wait time.

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