Monday, April 27, 2015

SushiVille definitely worth trying

Sushiville on Urbanspoon At the time of writing this post, SushiVille has what seems like really polar reviews on Urbanspoon and Yelp: People either love it or hate it.
Because of that, I was really curious to see what was going on. And having gone on a Monday night and watched them really busy at 7 PM and after, it is clear that there's something good about it despite low ratings. (So take social medial ratings with a grain of salt and read carefully!)

It is a smallish place with fairly tight table spacing, but actual table space allotted to each person is quite good. There is even "outdoor" bar style seating, though their being on Commercial Drive means I really don't recommend it till later in the evening when the wildlife passing by will be infrequent and hopefully nothing unsavoury.

We tried a bunch of sushi mostly, and it falls into two main categories: Boring and Interesting.
It's easy to find the cheap and boring stuff. It's pretty much everything that isn't a "Special Roll". They are normally the regulation size makizushi but for +$2 you can super-size it into a fat (about 6 cm diameter) futomaki. That's slightly more than 2x the amount of sushi for slightly less than 2x the price.
The Interesting stuff may not be for everyone. They do have what appears to be a signature excess in sauce on some of their special rolls, and obviously you may definitely want to hold off on using wasabi or soy sauce on those. The sheer amount of sauce may push the definition of "sushi" for some people, but just suspend your expectations and let tastiness be your guide.
Also interesting is the presentation, which typically has one of two things:
  • Dry ice spilling fog.
  • A non-edible cheesy-adorable ceramic statuette, like a bear or something. Typically nothing really related to anything but curious to see on the plate.
There is definitely an attempt to jazz up the presentation above and beyond plating. They can't really do very much with the boring non-special sushi rolls, and the Special Rolls already have colourful plating thanks in part to the sauce. Dry ice and ceramic pieces are... something else. That's either quaint or wow (like the dry ice when you see it the first time) or just kinda weird.

Here's some of what we ate:

Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi ($10.95)
  • This is the box-pressed and flamed-on-top sushi that places like Miku and Bistro Sakana specialize in.
  • Taste was only okay, in part because the rice base had only a bit of mushroom in it that had its flavour dominated by the sauce on top. Even the normally distinct salmon flavour was buried by the sauce.
Beef Teriyaki Roll ($3.95 regular, $5.95 giant)
  • Boring. Exactly what it says: Rice + seaweed wrapped around a wad of shredded beef.
  • So bland you will actually want to use some condiment on it -- which I always consider a sign of a failed sushi composition.
    • Maybe teriyaki sauce?
  • Bonus points for being cheap and filling for the price -- but it's soooo boring!
Crunchy Shrimp Roll ($8.50)
  • This was crunchy? (Nope)
Pizza Roll ($9.50)
  • On our bill it showed up as "Italian Roll".
  • Supposed to have assorted pizza stuff on top, but... nope, not that I saw or taste.
  • Virtually swimming in sauce that didn't look like pizza sauce (probably thankfully not).
  • Looked and sounded interesting in the menu, but in the end, not so much and not super tasty either.
Rainbow Roll ($7.75)
  • The main attraction here is the "rainbow" of colours. Each piece of sushi has a slightly different topping, ranging from different types of fish to prawn to avocado.
  • Kind of neat to see, but not that interesting or particularly tasty in the end.
Rocky Mountain Roll ($8.50? -- Or $10.95 as part of a combo order including nigiri and sashimi)
  • Sushi swimming in sauce, and topped with a crunchy ball of something.
  • Interesting, fun to eat because of the crunchy ball, but... not that tasty.
Final analysis: Mediocre sushi, but with bonus points for price (for their "normal rolls") and interestingness (in plating and their Special Rolls).
If you want interesting rolls that taste better (but which are a few dollars more per roll), try SushiHolic. For very cheap or interesting-at-a-budget-price, then SushiVille is definitely worth a try.
Unless you are going for cheap-and-filling, there is really no point in ordering "normal" sushi here. Buy only the special rolls. And skip the aburi style stuff -- get that at a restaurant that specializes in that style of sushi.

Our party of six had eight orders of stuff. Bill came to $76.60 before tax, $80.43 after tax, about $15 per person after tip. Cheap eats with some interesting rolls in the order.

Staff are friendly but English is limited. Also, at the height of their busy-ness, expect some slowdown in overall service.

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