Mar.’06 Reviews

Cumpari’s. #9 Restaurant. Nikko Japanese. Samurai Sushi. Calhoun’s. Hakata Sushi.

It looks a really quiet month. What it really means is that I visited a lot of places for the second or more time.

Cumpari’s Gelato E Caffe Inc., Mar.7’06
Made the trek out to the boonies for a Metblogger meet-up held at Cumpari’s Gelato. As far as blogger meet-ups go, I was looking forward to a dimly lit pub-like place and knew that a gelato cafe would be the very opposite. The building struck me as odd, like a former Dairy Queen – a stand-alone building with a high roof and big windows. Turns out it used to house an IHOP but the bistro seating as all their own style.
The brightly lit counter showcases dozens of flavours of gelato and behind the counter with ample room is an espresso bar. I ordered a small gelato (3.75) into which he squeezed two flavours – chestnut and dulce leche. They were both quite good although I would recommend if getting two flavours to get ones of discernibly different colours so you don’t have to rely on your tastebuds to figure out what flavour. On the other hand, maybe that is a good exercise. The medium gelato runs for 5.00.
In addition to gelato, a display case featured many cakes of full- or personal sizes and many other bite-sized pastries that looked so rich yet dainty. Like Notte’s Bon Ton, but in the boonies.

535 North Road, Coquitlam, B.C.

No. 9 Restaurant, Mar.9’06
Upon a friend’s suggestion, we went to one of his favourite restaurants in Richmond, a #9 Restaurant that is – cool – open 24 hours a day.
We ordered a two-item dinner with a choice of rice or plain congee for 19.90. The two items we ordered were honey-garlic ribs and an oyster omelette. I was leary about one and my companion about the other! We also ordered a clay pot rice with Chinese sausages and smoked meat for 8.90.
The ribs were surprisingly good – a tangy sauce glaze over the lightly batter ribs made them very satisfying. The oyster omelette arrived with a discernible overload of some green herb that was identified as cilantro! Oh, that was so difficult to eat.
=( The claypot rice was plentiful with an assortment of different Chinese sausages, and then some other smoked meats. The latter dish definitely could be split into multiple sittings.
5300 No. 3 Road #812, Richmond, B.C.

Nikko Japanese Restaurant, Mar.10’06
I guess I don’t eat very often downtown so it seems odd that a restaurant is tucked onto the upper level of a Robson building but there it is – a traditionally-decorate Japanese retreat.
We ordered tataki beef, stir-fried eggplant, and rolls. It was pretty normal.

1008 Robson Street, Vancouver, B.C.

Samurai Sushi House, Mar.11’06
Going to Samurai makes my grandmother happy and that makes me happy.
We were there on Saturday at noon, their opening time, and managed to get a seat. I ordered salmon sashimi (accidentally 9 pcs. for 8.95), negihama (yellow tail with green onion, 3.95), chopped scallop maki (4.25), and half-order futomaki (5 pcs. for 4.00).
When I went to try to change my sashimi order, I was pushed off and delayed that they wouldn’t change it, saying it was ready. GRRR. I admire how fast and efficient they are because they have a very high volume of customers when they are open, but then they feel they have license to chat and blatantly ignore you if your request is not important enough.
I have a new favourite – futomaki. The rolls are honkin’ big because there are a lot of ingredients – crab, tamago, pickled something yellow, and shitaake. As I had it as leftovers, I learned that soya and wasabi wasn’t even needed. I was disappointed with the negihama (tuna was not chopped as I had expected it from having a negitoro elsewhere) and the chopped scallop (slighly). The salmon sashimi, of course, didn’t disappoint and I learned there is a point when you’ve have too much sushi and you feel like you smell like a fish market…

5888 Cambie Street (@ 41st), Vancouver, B.C.

Calhoun’s Bakery Cafe, Mar.12’06
I’ve known about this place, that it’s a 24-hour pub type place, and we finally made it there. The interior is comfortable with a lodge feel. It’s one of those places where all the food is displayed in cases and many of the items you order (e.g., curry chicken, shepard’s pie, pasta) are simply reheated in a microwave or, hopefully, oven. Cool place – I don’t know why I haven’t been there sooner. But if you wanted to study there over night, unless you’re working at a computer with illumination, the place is a little too dark for writing or reading.
3035 West Broadway Avenue, Vancouver, B.C.

Hakata Sushi, Mar.18’06
I’ve passed by this restaurant before but never noticed that it offers Vietnamese food in addition to the Japanese fare. We went because they have two-item combinations for $6.95 and three-item ones for $9.95. The girls ordered two-item combinations with Vietnamese spring rolls and brochette (skewers). One other in our company ordered the three-item dinner consisting of a spring roll, and lemongrass chicken and pork chop. All of our dinners were laid upon rice vermicelli. The spring rolls were hefty and filled with shredded carrots, glass vermicelli, and mushrooms, served with a runny plum sauce that wouldn’t normally enjoy but did there. The meat was marinated and grilled to a point of retaining flavour and still being succulent.
I returned a few days later at lunch time and felt like recinding my previous rave reviews. I ordered again the Vietnamese special with the spring roll and a shrimp on sugar cane. The food quality was just the same as before but the service was a far cry worse. They seemed to be overwhelmed by their Japanese takeout business and no address the customers seated in the dining room, committing a cardinal mistake of assuming that just because we dined in, we would be willing to wait, and wait, and wait. I won’t return there in the day time.

West Broadway @ Willow, Vancouver, B.C.

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