Tawara Japanese Restaurant

Restaurant: Tawara Japanese Restaurant
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Last visited: May 6, 2010
Location: Surrey, BC
Address: 103-15153 Hwy 10
Price Range: $10-20 (closer to $20)

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

Food: 3
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Japanese family owned
  • Attracts Westerners
  • Extensive menu
  • Japanese hot and cold food/sushi
  • Quite gourmet, nice presentation
  • Some creative appetizers and sushi rolls
  • Good Japanese for what’s around
  • Popular to locals in neighbourhood
  • Quick & friendly service
  • Clean, comfortable
  • Moderately priced
  • Daily specials
  • Lunch boxes, dinner combos
  • No MSG
  • Dine in/Take-out
  • Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm
  • Dinner Mon-Sat 4:30pm-10pm
  • Closed Sunday
  • Interac/MC/Visa

**Recommendations: Dragon Roll, Gommae, Tempura Ice Cream (tried before, but not on this occasion)


If you live in the neighbourhood and you don’t want to venture far for some “downtown level Japanese” than Tawara will do the job. However, I would rather make the drive out than to pay similar prices for food that’s not as good, but not bad either. How do I say this?… It is good, but it’s also for “Westerners” living in the area. This was my second visit here, and the first visit was good but not memorable since it was nearly 5 years ago when it first opened and I came.

Located in the rather newer and nicer part of Surrey Tawara Japanese Restaurant serves Japanese food and sushi in a clean and contemporary setting. It’s quite a large restaurant seating at least 50, and it’s very popular to the “Western” locals living in the neighbourhood.  The service is nice and the food is unexpectedly quite fancy with a menu that features a wide selection of appetizers, sushi rolls, noodles, donburi, sashimi and even ramen. The food is a actually a bit pricey, but they don’t have much competition and it’s quite good for what’s available in the area. The only other Japanese/sushi place nearby is Ta-Ke Sushi, but that’s a more traditional style Japanese restaurant in terms of ambiance and food. Another good sushi place serving “gourmet” or fusion sushi that’s somewhat still in the area is Taka’s Take-Out Sushi in White Rock.

On the table:

Complimentary Appetizer

  • This was totally unexpected! Much appreciated though for a small restaurant like this. It was a deep fried dark chicken nugget ball with sweet Thai chili sauce on top.
  • It was chicken karaage in popcorn chicken form with a crispy outside that’s not too heavily battered. It’s probably just what they’re chicken karaage would taste like.

Avocado and Tuna Sashimi – 2.5/6

  • $8.95
  • It was one of the chef’s special recommendations for the appetizers.
  • This was almost like a tuna and avocado tower. I appreciate the effort the put in the presentation, but it was actually very easy and simple and for $8.95 I think it was overpriced as an appetizer. It did come with 8 pieces of tuna sashimi, but I rather have 2 pieces less sashimi and avocado and have it $6.
  • It was literally chunks of avocado and tuna sashimi stacked up with some tobiko. The sauce at the bottom was a tangy citrus vinaigrette and there wasn’t enough to finish off the sashimi with. I got bored of it before I even finished it and I think it looked more creative than it tasted.
  • I would much rather have the Tuna & Avocado Carpaccio at Kingyo for $9.80 that’s 10x’s better.

**Gommae – 4.5/6

  • $4.95
  • This is again quite pricey, considering gommae is usually $4.50, but looking at the presentation I can let it go. It’s one of the nicest presentations I’ve seen for gommae and I was surprised. The plating was so clean and it was beautifully prepared.
  • It was very delicious gommae and the spinach was very nicely cut and presented. The sesame sauce was homemade and it was very chunky and nutty with lots of ground up toasted sesame seeds. It was more like sesame paste than sauce because it was so thick.

Agedashi Tofu3/6

  • $4.50
  • This was an interesting way to prepare agedashi tofu as well. It was thin slices of tofu rather than cubes. It was very soft pieces although it looks firm. It was fried nice and crispy with a very light and thin batter and I enjoyed them.

**Dragon Roll – 4.5/6

  • $11.95
  • Another chef’s recommendation and one of their fancy/creative sushi rolls.
  • California roll (made with imitation crab) and avocado topped with 5 kinds of sashimi.
  • The 5 kinds of sashimi are salmon, tuna, wild Sokeye salmon and one shrimp (ebi) and I’m not sure what the last one was.
  • This isn’t the best Dragon Roll out there, but it was actually really good. It was creative because they made it their own by adding their own unique special homemade sauces.
  • The pieces were perfect bite sizes and the sushi rice was pretty good. It was a thin layer too so they didn’t rely on it as filler.

  • The sauces totally make this Dragon Roll. It was topped with a drizzle of homemade wasabi sauce and a peanut tasting sesame sauce. The green wasabi sauce was delicious and it has quite a kick. The sesame sauce was almost like a peanut mayo, but not as rich or creamy. It was sweet and very nutty and I loved the combination of both sauces.  Together it was sweet, tangy, spicy and savoury. I like it because I won’t be able to find anything like this anywhere else.
  • Again I think this is a bit overpriced. I would pay $12, but I think $10 would have been reasonable especially with imitation crab.

Tuna Carpaccio – 2/6

  • $9.95
  • A chef recommended appetizer.
  • This was appetizer size and overpriced again. I think it should be $7.50 at most because it’s much too simple and small for what they’re charging.
  • For me, it wasn’t carpaccio. It was long thin strips of tuna rather than thin slices. It was marinaded in sesame oil with a little chili sauce and some sesame seeds and I found it very plain. It needed some soy or ponzu sauce or something else because the flavour was flat. I felt like I could make the sauce at home and there were really only 2 ingredients used minus the sauce.
  • It was topped with nice strands of sweet mango which I really liked, but the execution and even presentation could have been so much better.
  • It could have used some cucumber strands, avocado or daikon or just anything to make it worth $9.95.
  • Again I would much rather have the Tuna & Avocado Carpaccio at Kingyo for $9.80.

Chicken Teriyaki 3/6

  • $9.95
  • I know, not very adventurous for me, but I also didn’t order it. It’s fresh, a generous portion, but also just a good standard chicken Teriyaki.
  • The Teriyaki sauce wasn’t too sweet and the chicken was moist and tender but also quite fatty.
  • It was on a bed of freshly shredded vegetables, but nothing I’d coming running back too.

Miso Ramen – 2/6

  • $9.95
  • This actually kind of surprised me to have it on the menu. It didn’t taste bad, but it just wasn’t impressive.
  • It was a big portion, but the price isn’t justified and I would much rather go to Hokkaido Ramen Santouka anyday.
  • The noodles were Soba noodles and they were inconsistent with some being chewy while others were overcooked.

  • The broth was quite good, but also very oily. It was almost a thick broth and it was quite sweet and also savoury but also not the traditional slow home cooked version. It wasn’t creamy and rich like the broth should be.
  • It was topped with fish slices and vegetables, some enoki mushrooms, seaweed and bean sprouts.
  • Come to think, I don’t remember any pork being in it… I barely paid attention to this Miso ramen and the food came out all at once so maybe it was eaten before I got to it too.

Complimentary Dessert

  • This was very cute! Cute “family owned” presentation and I appreciated them.
  • They also offer a tempura ice cream which I tried 5 years ago on my 1st visit and this is very good as well. However the deep fried ice cream from Luna Loca Mexican Cantina, which is in the same mall complex as Tawara Japanese Restaurant, is awesome!

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7 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    Hmmmmmm…. Well, it indeed looks expensive but it is an issue of location. Just as you mentioned, when it is in the middle of nowhere and you serve a form of ethnic cuisine, you will end up having to pay a premium. Sure, you can drive to Downtown Vancouver (assuming you can drive there!) but, by then, you have already spent an hour or so, then you have to pay parking in Downtown Vancouver and driving back and so on. So, balance I say? 🙂

    Having said that, how is the sushi?

  • Mijune says:

    I only tried the Dragon roll there, but I really liked that sushi!

    I guess you’re right about the balance… but I would prefer to make the drive… more worth it for me.

  • sushi says:

    This place is not a Japanese-owned obviously.. just to let you know.
    “No MSG” what does it mean? They do use Hon0Dashi which is totally MSG
    and their noodle soup has MSG, too.
    You’d better check carefully before you post anything on your website, please.
    They have good korean-style spicy sauce. I like their korean-style chirashi.

  • Mijune says:

    sushi – Are you sure? I heard them speak Japanese and locals around my table told me they were a Japanese family. Are the Chinese and they just speak it? I don’t know for a fact they use HonoDashi in the soup and they have a sign on the front door that says “NO MSG”…. that’s the reason why I wrote that.

    Thanks for commenting though and I’ll try the Korean-style chirashi next time.

  • ryan says:

    I talked to the Tawara chef about that. He said he doesn’t use Hondashi at his soup.
    He uses Katsuo (dried fish flakes)and Gonbu(dried seaweed) instead of MSG.

  • Mijune says:

    @ryan – thanks so much for clarifying! I appreciate it. I’m happy to hear that there isn’t MSG.

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