If there is only one type of food I have to live with for the rest of my life, it would be Japanese food.
Sushi Zero One
It's a blessing for my stomach and a curse on my wallet that my school is surrounded by so many good, cheap, and multicultural places to eat. Once I heard of the special uni fiesta going on at Sushi Zero One, an authentic and fairly inexpensive Japanese restaurant which specializes in take out.
Since it is located 4 minutes away from school, I rushed there with my backpack after class in hopes to pick up my share. The deals included 1/4 lb uni don for $9.95, uni x ikura don for $12, (which were kept on the DL and not widely advertised btw). After the cashier put in my order for uni x ikura don, she apologized and said "Sorry, we just ran out of uni this afternoon." To which I replied, "Oh, when will you be getting more in?". To my disappointment, those words came out the chef's lips, "The uni season has come to an endddd." A response which dropped me to my knees (*que the outside rain). It was hard to believe I had just missed it by only a few hours! UGHHHH! Damn you client! (JK) In an attempt to find an uni fix, I was once again disappointed with another blow after a phone call to Sakura Sushi which also confirmed the exact same thing. -__-
I guess to "settle", I ended up with Today's special, Deluxe Chirashi don with miso soup for $9.50 and 2 pieces of toro for $1.75 each. The toro was only okay. Not much to brag about... The gigantic rice bowl, on the other hand, came with albacore tuna, shrimp, sockeye salmon, ikura, yellow tail tuna, masago, and sweet egg. The ikura was also so-so, not plump but also not fishy, but not many chirashi don comes with ikura for less than $10. The rest of the sashimi were quite good and fresh. The sushi rice was virtually bottomless. There was no way I could finish it, especially when wearing a pair of jeans. Big portion, fresh, definitely worth the value.
Only opened for dinner from 6-9 pm, the traditional and authentic sushi shop in Richmond is owned and operated solely by a diligent couple. Don't go on a Sunday or Monday, you'll be disappointed since they are closed (as I never seemed to learn just yet). You also may want to make reservations before you show up due to limited seating, and the restaurant is usually packed by 7 or 8 pm (and they don't do take out either). Hachi only specializes in sushi, sashimi, grilled fish and no other cooked food.
I can probably write a whole essay about how good the toro (tuna belly $2.50) was. It was melt-in-your-mouth smooth, gentle, almost creamy texture. I don't know many places that serve toro as good as Hachi. Having just 2 clearly isn't enough.
The miso soup ($1.50) was served with a prawn head, which is probably my favourite part of the prawn as it carries the most fat and flavour. The soup had the sweet taste of prawn and even more concentrated flavour from the prawn fat being cooked in with the broth.
If you are a sushi lover and want to taste fresh sushi with quality in mind over quantity, Hachi is definitely a place worth a visit. The price is a bit more expensive than other Japanese restaurants, but for the freshness and the grade you receive, it is definitely worth the value.
After passing by Sakura Sushi without noticing it for the past 3 months, their coupon, "Spend $7 get a free california roll" finally got my attention. This sweet deal lasts until May 31st! Their menu is fairly in expensive as well, with lunch combo's being around $7-$8, and good quality sushi from $1 - $2. In terms of bang for buck, I can't think of anywhere else with a better deal.
We got miso soup at the beginning of the meal. There was nothing in it, but it was free, so Yay.
I thought Banzai and Samurai Sushi had a good deal for prawn tempura ($6.95 for 7 pieces). Sakura Sushi seems to rival the two, $6 for 6 pieces. The only difference is, Sakura's tempura are a lot better, fresher, and crispier. The prawn stays crisp, as perfect as they can get without being over or undercooked.
Aside from rolls and combo's, Sakura Sushi makes pretty good nigiri sushi at reasonable prices. They are quite good for value as quality and care are definitely present.
Uni sushi for $1.50 (regularly $3 / piece) a week ago while it was still in season. It still came with familiar faint fishy taste that was fairly mild and forgivable for a price of $1.50. I think the only way to rid that stench is to eat the uni right after you crack it from the shell. I know I had a lot worse elsewhere and paying double.
Other honourable mentions include unagi sushi which is on special for $1 (regularly $1.50). It was buttery, moist, flakey, sweet, and flavourful. I was never a fan of eel because I usually find a problem with its texture, but unagi sushi is quite tasty even if you're not a fan of eel. Also try aji, or Jack Mackerel which is also on the special for $1.50. Like saba, it has a stronger fishy taste than other fish, but I find aji to be more mild, also very tender and buttery as well.