Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shizen Sushi

Shizen Sushi
8-1706 Government St.
Victoria, B.C.
250-381-8228

J: Twice now I've been foiled from any attempt to grab some dinner at Ebizo Sushi. It's either we were early or we arrived on a day they were closed.

Dejected, I was still determined to get my hands on some decent Japanese cuisine. The light bulb above Ed's head was switched on. Ed's idea was to eat at a Japanese restaurant in Victoria's Chinatown. I thought "why not", if someone of Chinese descent can own an Italian pizzeria, than why not a place that produces Japanese food.

First impressions are important to me and I will admit I loved the ambiance. It had the atmosphere I was looking for. There were even Japanese/western fusion booths where a group could escape the tradition of being seated floor level.


E: We could have gone to Japanese Village if James wanted, but I'm sure there'd be some kind of rebellion going on if I suggested it. That place was closer, but knowing James, cheaper is better. I'd been here before to partake in a deluxe sushi platter and I enjoyed it, but I had to wonder what they'd be like many months later, when they're more firmly established.

I'd have to say the menu has improved but the tastes are a mixed bag. At least what came out first was certainly sweet. The Seafood Sunomono Salad ($4.95) had some of the sweetest flavours to come out of the rice patty field. The rice vinegar was not too tart, and it made for some good contrasts.

The one thing I didn't get was the choice of crab meat. I'm thinking snow crab was used, and the more flakier it is, the more diluted it will get when it's swimming in liquid.


J: While the presentation of the salad is better than Sushi Plus, this other diner has nothing to worry about when it comes to the taste of the vinegar. I found Sushi's sweeter. And sadly Schezin's miso soup ($1.95) was of a different brand. Because never have I needed to stir the miso from time to time to prevent the ingredients from separating from the water.

E: My experiences with James' love affair with Sushi Plus has been far too different. Tastes are one thing, presentation is another, but when I came in on a day when not even the waitresses were present, and the owner had to do all the work, that left an impression that is hard to remove. While one place offered simple tastes, another can have complex ones.

Here, I could say I toured several cities with the types of maki rolls being offered. There was the Vancouver Roll ($6.95), Tokyo Roll ($6.95) and Highlander Roll ($10.95). Mind you, I had to wonder, was it the Highlands located near Victoria or are we talking Scotland here?

I thought the rolls wavered in complexity. They each respectively tasted bland, crunchy and sweet. Of the three, I loved going to the Highlands far more. Victoria, true to it's namesake, needed some extra life to it if it's supposed to stand out. The salmon just did not have that quality that I normally expect. In Tokyo, the splash of flavours was there. I could feel its anxiety. But in Scotland, land of the free, the expression here was in how the clash of cultures expressed itself. There was harmony in the meat and avacado. That was the highlight of my meal.

J: Mine faired much the same as Ed's. The seafood tempura dinner suffered from dry salmon and tuna. The presentation was attempted but was less appealing. It was as though a group of cub scouts decided to build a fire on my plate. I should have looked for a bed roll under my table or perhaps it was amongst the sushi on Ed's tray.

E: And I'd be ready to play chopstick kung-fu with James' fingers if he did. Honestly, I do not mind sharing. Three maki rolls was more than filling and with a few extra sides, what I had really filled me. That's surprising when considering some rolls can be made really thin. These rolls were Western designer sizes.

As for the individual pieces, I found the jellyfish nigiri interesting. The 'shark fin' designation is only to grab attention, and thankfully this restaurant is responsible enough not to serve the real thing. I liked the soft crunch. The other two I had, a sea eel and unagi, were slightly disappointing. I guess some places cannot think of how to top that with an authentic BBQ taste or even garnish with a cucumber.

By then, I wished I had that glass of water...

J: The waitress had already brought my glass of water but walked away from Ed with the tray without leaving him something in which to quench his thirst. Now that I think of it, she was frequenting our table a little too much and topping up our green tea multiple times.

E: Either she was overzealous with dispensing the tea, or she has the hots for James. Leaving me stranded without water was like leaving me on a lone deserted island on the Caribbean.

J: If it was the latter, I can't blame her. Food lovers are the new sexy.

2½ Blokes out of 5

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