Seto Sushi Japanese Restaurant

Restaurant: Seto Sushi Japanese Restaurant
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Last visited: July 4, 2010
Location: Richmond, BC
Address: Unit 155 – 8460 Alexandra Road
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: 4
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Since 1997
  • Japanese owned and operated
  • Traditional Japanese food/dishes
  • Fresh sashimi/fish
  • Popular for sushi and traditional Japanese specialties
  • Extensive menu
  • Extensive Japanese liquor menu
  • House smoked salmon for rolls
  • Sushi bar
  • Popular to locals
  • Busy at peak hours
  • Casual and cozy
  • Seasonal specials
  • Lunch specials
  • Reasonably priced
  • Photos of food on menu
  • Lunch and dinner
  • Accepts Visa/MC
  • Closed Tuesday, closes 2:30-5:30pm

**Recommendations: Chawanmushi, Ochazuke with Salmon Roe, sushi (hot pot, tamago – didn’t try on this occasion, but it’s popular here)

Seto Japanese Restaurant is a humble Japanese restaurant tucked away in the corner of a plaza. It’s popular to Richmond locals and is the first place that comes to mind when searching for reasonably priced traditional Japanese food in the city of Richmond.

It’s owned and operated by Japanese people and the best dishes are their sushi, Japanese hot pot, and traditional specialties that I rarely see elsewhere. It’s old school mom and pop traditional Japanese style cooking and preparation. They offer almost every traditional Japanese dish you can think of. From traditional appetizers, soups, salad, sushi, sashimi, donburi, hot noodles, cold noodles, robata, hot pot, Japanese ramen bowls, and even home made Japanese desserts (they even offer horse sashimi) Seto does almost all Japanese food. With such an extensive menu I would think they do nothing well, however they really care about what they serve and it felt like they wouldn’t serve anything they wouldn’t eat themselves.

I don’t have a lot to compare to, but I find authentic Japanese food hard to find since almost everything is all fusion nowadays. I do love fusion Japanese food because it’s so creative, but the authentic food is equally as special and rare. I always try to find the closest thing to the real deal (without having to go to Japan) because the watered down version of ethnic cuisine really bothers me. I almost always want what they would eat or what they would could at home. At Seto they uses their own home cooked recipes and it definitely made me curious enough to want to go back and try more.

This was another notorious “Follow Me Foodie meal” where me and my friend manage to shock the server with the amount we order… and order even more AND finish everything. It’s always a different friend… but the commonality is me… soooo what does that say? Oh dear…

On the table:

Miso Soup

  • $1.50
  • I didn’t try this, but my friend said it’s better than average Miso soup. I could tell just by looking at it. It wasn’t too salty either and there were little bits of tofu too.

**Chawanmushi4.5/6

  • Steamed egg custard with seafood and veggies $4.50
  • This was my favourite dish of the night! It was amazing! It’s traditional Japanese comfort food although the process of making it is time consuming.
  • I even loved how traditional they were with the presentation. It was no gimmick either, because the plating served a purpose. This is best eaten hot, so the glass cup and wooden lid keeps it well insulated.

  • I accidentally deleted the photo of it before I destroyed it 🙁
  • There’s a Chinese version that’s equally as good and both are rare to come across. I’ve had the Chinese version at Negative Space Chinese Cuisine.
  • Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese appetizer. It’s the texture of silky tofu but the taste of deliciousness! It’s almost like a savoury pudding. It’s really smooth and tastes like steamed egg whites mixed with mushroom broth. There’s a natural liquid that seeps out of the custard and it tastes like mushroom juice.
  • There’s juicy shiitake mushrooms, a couple enoki mushrooms and spinach on top. At the bottom of the custard cup there’s a small scallop and half a prawn (the prawn gets overcooked though).
  • This is a single serving, and trust me, you’ll want your own.

  • We actually ended up ordering 3 of these between 2 people… lol
  • Some people will eat it with soy sauce on top, but I don’t think it needs it because the custard is flavourful and salty enough on it’s own. It also has that mushroom juice already.
  • The custard is made with eggs, fish stalk (made of fish and kelp/seaweed), salt, a little sugar, and sometimes some Mirin. It’s savoury, slightly sweet and slightly woody in flavour from the Shiitake mushrooms that are infused throughout the custard.
  • It’s steamed until it sets into a silky custard and is served immediately. It’s piping hot and so good!

House Roll 3/6

  • 1/2 roll (4 pcs) – $7.50 Full roll (8 pcs) – $14
  • Prawn tempura, fresh salmon, avocado, imitation crab
  • Let me put into perspective how big this roll is…

  • I still don’t think you can tell just how big this was. That was also a mini pen though. It was Samurai Sushi big. Jumbo sushi! It was a 2-3 biter so I couldn’t taste everything at once.
  • I know ‘House Rolls’ don’t really exist in Japan, but I really like them because they have  little bit of everything. However, in this case it didn’t :(… I actually would prefer the Samurai Sushi House Roll. However I would prefer Yoko Sushi House Rolls any day.
  • This one has avocado, crab, green been tempura, prawn tempura, and salmon sashimi. I wanted tuna sashimi and tamago (egg) in it as well. I know a house roll is “up to you” but I think tamago is standard.
  • They used the rice to make the roll a bit bigger and usually that really bothers me, however the sushi rice here is really good! It’s very flavourful and sticky and I really liked it even by itself.

Negi Toro Roll – 4/6

  • Chopped tuna belly and green onion $3.25
  • This Negi Toro roll was better than most. I think it was because of the fish. The toro was so fresh and so fatty that the roll was super creamy and flavourful. I know it looks boring and ordinary, but it definitely tasted better than normal.
  • The sushi rice is already really good here too so all in all it was an excellent Negi Toro roll.

Saba Battera – 4/6

  • Marinated Mackerel pressed in square mold on sushi rice $10
  • This is a very traditional Japanese sushi, and I think the price is reasonable. It’s the authentic way to serve and make Saba Battera. No fancy sauces.
  • Although they used more rice than I would like (even for a pressed sushi) the sushi rice is really good here so it didn’t bother me as much. The best pressed sushi I’ve had thus far is still the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi from Miku Restaurant.
  • Saba Battera pressed sushi has a really fishy taste. I think it’s marinated in vinegar or Mirin and a little salt. It tastes almost pickled and reminds me of pickled Herring.
  • Stuffed in the middle of the square rice was a Aspidistra leaf and it was perfect with the fish because it balanced out the fishy Mackerel taste. Aspidistra is a Japanese herb and it reminds me of mint. It has a slightly hairy texture, which goes unnoticed in this sushi, but the flavour is obvious. It has a minty and lemony flavour and a little goes a long way.
  • On top of the Mackerel was a thin sheet of fresh kelp/seaweed that was sweetened.
  • It was salty, tangy and sweet but predominantly fishy. Although fresh, I just wish the cut of the Mackerel was sliced thicker.

Hamachi Shioyaki – 2/6

  • BBQ Yellowtail with salt $10.50
  • This is from their robata (Japanese BBQ) menu.
  • It’s washed and salted before it is grilled. It was overcooked for me and a bit too dry which made it even firmer. It reminded me of dry trout almost. It wasn’t too salty in flavour and the lemon helped a lot.
  • I much rather have the Hamachi Shio Kama Yaki from Miku which had a nice salt crust.

Shishamo2.5/6

  • Grilled smelt fish (3 pieces) $4
  • The whole thing is edible including the head, but for some reason I didn’t eat that part. I don’t know why… I ate a raw octopus head in Korea see video here … so I don’t know know why I didn’t eat the head here.
  • It’s barbequed until the whole thing is crispy and almost like chips. It’s nice and salty with a smokey charcoal flavour.

  • It has a crispy outside, but the inside is full of mini eggs. It may freak you out – it totally freaked me out the first time I tried it… which was when I was 9.
  • It was a mild fish taste and the inside is almost like a dry mushy paste. The roe is so small it’s almost creamy. I wouldn’t normally order this, but I’ll eat one if it’s there… not my favourite though.

**Ochazuke (Tea on Rice) – 4/6

  • Salmon, Pickled Plum (Ume) or Nori $5
  • Salmon Roe or Cod Roe $7
  • We ordered it with salmon roe.
  • Ochazuke is literally tea on rice. It’s a bowl of Japanese rice and toppings (traditionally whatever is left over from dinner) and a cup of hot green tea served separately. This is truly traditional Japanese comfort food that Japanese people would eat at home. It’s like the Japanese version of Chinese congee almost… except Japanese people really have a Japanese congee that is different than Ochazuke.

  • This is my fist time having it, so I had no standard for it except for what it was. It was so simple and so good!
  • You port the green tea right on top until it’s fully covered.

  • I honestly couldn’t even tell it was green tea. I kept thinking it was chicken stock or something because I couldn’t taste the green tea at all. The cod roe is just so overpowering that the tea ends up tasting like savoury fish broth.

  • I mixed it altogether when I was half way through so it was almost like a porridge.
  • Besides salmon roe, they also give shredded nori and crispy fried noodle sticks.
  • It’s a really easy and simple dish, but I’ve never seen it on a menu before so it was unique to me.
  • Chinese people do this as well, but they usually do it at home with their rice cookers. Traditionally they pour the tea over clay pots to get the stuck on rice to come off the pot. This is everyone’s favourite part because it’s the crispy left over rice that crusts onto the bottom of the bowl. It’s the Asian equivalent to giving an American kid the leftover batter to lick from the mixing bowl.

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25 Comments

  • shokutsu says:

    I’ve always wanted to check this place out having been to the place right behind it several times. Thanks for the report!

  • Dennis says:

    This is for sure one of my fave sushi spots in Richmond. Great review, I’ll definitely try the Ochazuke next time I go.

  • Mijune says:

    Thanks Dennis! I can’t wait to make a bigger dent in their menu – apparently the mushroom pine tea on their appetizer menu is really good too!

  • Bow says:

    Mijune,
    I always have loved chawanmushi; I have a fusion version without Mirin and sake(use Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc). One of my tests for a Japanese place is ordering Chirashi-don(how they cut the fish, how they present it and whether all the fish taste fresh, not tired…etc.,etc).It’s really hard to find a Japanese place that isn’t an izakaya bar or being owned by Koreans or Chinese. Sushi training is at least 3 years long on how to properly “cut”(years ago at Mikado, I watched Soji-san peel a daikon into a twenty foot piece prior to julienning).

  • Mijune says:

    Bow – you have to recommend me a place for Chirashi-don and I will go back to Seto and compare them 🙂

    I always love reading your comments… I love when you have some neat little recipe to include and how you don’t mind sharing them publicly!

  • James H says:

    Didn’t know there was a Chinese version of Chawanmushi – would love to try it!

    Seto is a regular spot for me as I live nearby – next time try their chopped scallop roll and hamachi sashimi. If you want to splurge try the tuna toro (if available). Recommend sitting at the bar & asking the chef (Akira) for his recommendation.

    Have you tried Sushi Hachi? Also in Richmond and owned by a Japanese couple. Great sushi and a cozy interior.

  • KimHo says:

    CHAWAMUSHIIIIII!!!!

    Yeah, I love this dish. I wish more restaurants made it but, I guess, given such a simple dish there are higher chances it will fail. OK, now I have a reason to go there! 😀

    James H, just ask for (Chinese) steamed eggs… 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    James H – OMG! The ONLY reason we ended up defaulting to Seto (which was a great default mind you) is because Sushi Hachi was closed! It’s always closed!! Sunday AND Monday! AND ONLY dinner! argh!! I want to try it sooo badly. I can never get a reservation either!

    KimHo – It’s RICHMOND… your FAVOURITE place!

  • jer says:

    Seto is still one of my favorite restaurants that I continually go to every once in awhile. They just seem to make all their dishes with care. The Chawanmushi there is great but I really recommend the specials they have offer there. Seto is one of the few Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, if any, that serve Basashi (Horse sashimi). The last time I went as well, the live Botan-Ebi was amazing (complete with fried heads after). It’s just too bad the restaurant is a bit pricier than most others or I’d go there every single week.

  • Mijune says:

    @jer – as busy as they are… I felt the care and effort as well. Ohhh I was so tempted to try the horse sashimi and when I saw it on the menu I did tweet about it. It’s just pretty pricey and I didn’t want to waste it if I didn’t like it. Need to wait to go with a bigger and more adventurous group of foodies. Yeah it is a bit expensive, but they have small operations and family run… so I feel for them.

  • Joseph Wu says:

    Thanks so much for the recommend, Mijune. We tried Seto tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it. The highlights were the chawan mushi and the salmon ochazuke. The chawan mushi was comparable to some of the best I’ve had in Japan. The battera was pretty good. My only real complaint was that the rolled sushi that we had were a little loose, so some of the fillings fell out.

  • Mijune says:

    @Joseph Wu – YES!!! You liked it?!?!?! YAY!!! Coming from you… is awesome since I know your such a tough foodie when it comes to Japanese food 🙂 I love the chawan mushi too!!! Horse sashimi next?!?! I was tempted to try it!

  • Nathan Chan says:

    I was *just* wondering where to find horsemeat to try (aside from Granville Island)

    @Mijune

    It’s probably best to tag Sushi Hachi right as they open for the evening. It’s an early dinner, but sooner beats later. Seafood allergies are particularly bothersome with Japanese cuisine though.

  • Mijune says:

    @Nathan Chan – Last 3 times I’ve tried to go to Sushi Hachi they’ve been full!!! SO MAD!!! you’re right , I need to go early! Yes, I am curious to try the horse meat here too!

  • Nathan Chan says:

    I went to Seto last week, and didn’t see the basashi on the menu. Did they remove it!?

    I ordered the Ochazuke with seaweed and it was fairly salty. Either the tea itself contains the salt, or there’s salt mixed into the rice already. I didn’t think to try eating the component parts separately. I prefer the ramen from G-men. The (large) shoyu ramen came with half a egg and a single slice each of cha siu and nori. The pork was bland, though tender. It may as well have been a slice of plain pork belly. The extra charge for a large serving seems to go all to the noodles.

    The best dish I had was the kanpyo maki. The sushi rice was perfectly done. It wasn’t until mid-way through that I realized that my dinner was all carbs. Seafood allergies and Japanese cuisine just don’t mix well…

    Seto menu

  • Mijune says:

    @Nathan Chan – ohhh booo!! they must have! It used to be advertised “horse sashimi” right on the table.

    The salt is from the cod roe and melted seaweed? It shouldn’t be the tea… unless they put dashi in it.. which I doubt they do.

    This is not a place for ramen, so for ramen you should stick to ramen houses 🙂

    Thanks for your feedback! I can’t comment on the Kanpyo Maki though because I haven’t tried it. This place is known for it’s sushi. I’m sorry you have seafood allergies 🙁

  • Tina says:

    You have to try the Special Cone that is not on their menu! It is a cone consisting of uni, ikura, unagi, ebi, mirugai and chopped scallop!! It’s really heaven in a cone, but it comes with a cost. It’s about 12 dollars a cone if I didn’t remember wrong, but it is well worth it 🙂 Must try! Just ask the server next time you’re there, they actually have a bunch of different cones that aren’t on the menu.

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