Kitstaya Sushi (Kitsilano)

Restaurant: Kitstaya Sushi
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Last visited: August 2, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Kitsilano)
Address: 3105 West Broadway
Price Range: $10 or less

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

Food: 3 (based only on their highly recommended items)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Since 2008
  • Japanese and Chinese owned & operated
  • Popular for “famous” specialty rolls
  • Local favorite
  • Cheap eats/budget-friendly
  • Voted Best cheap eats 2009
  • Voted Best sushi bar 2009
  • Very casual location/atmosphere
  • Very busy for take out, non-stop business
  • 10% off – 1 day in advance take out order
  • Busy during peak hours
  • Lunch specials from $5.95
  • Creative fusion sushi rolls
  • Brown rice sushi available
  • Free Wi-fi
  • Free underground parking
  • Mon-Sat 11:30pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-9:30pm
  • Feedback program – satisfaction guaranteed

**Recommendations: Spicy Tuna Salad, Spicy Tuna sashimi, Captain Crunch Roll, Kitstaya Roll (stick to ordering the “famous roll”)

Kitstaya Sushi is a Japanese Restaurant located in Kitsilano in Vancouver, BC. It’s owned and operated by Japanese and Chinese although it seems like it’s only Chinese with all the Chinese being spoken. I’ve only come here once for dinner, but it was enough to notice that it’s a local favourite enjoyed by many. The dine in service was busy and the take out service was non-stop for at least a couple hours.

It’s been voted #1 Best Cheap Eats and #3 Best Sushi Bar in 2009 by the Vancouver Courier newspaper and you can tell they’re very proud of it because it’s plastered all over.

Kitstaya Sushi offers standard Japanese food on their regular menu, but they’re most popular for their “famous rolls” which are a selection of 20 specialty fusion rolls. They’re pretty big, tasty and very well priced compared to most places. The food isn’t authentic Japanese, but it’s quite fusion and appeals to West Coast flavours and Vancouver tastes.  I only tried their most popular dishes and from that I can assume that’s it best to stick to their “famous rolls” because they’re a solid deal and they’re good. I also discovered that a few of the sashimi even comes fresh 3 times a week straight from Japan, and they use Japanese suppliers for lots of their stock. They just started offering brown rice sushi too, and you can request it for any of their rolls. It’s a good, simple and cheap; it’s a go-to restaurant to satisfy an easy Japanese craving without breaking the wallet. Kitstaya Sushi doesn’t look like much, but it’s pretty impressive for a small Japanese restaurant that I wasn’t expecting much from.

Added note: I was invited to review Kitstaya Sushi as Follow Me Foodie, so therefore I cannot comment on the service I received. The food was complimentary, however I accepted the invite based on the fact that there were no expectations for the outcome of my review. They were very understanding and cooperative.

On the table:

**Kitstaya Tuna Salad – 5/6

  • A tower of spicy tuna sashimi, salmon sashimi, fresh mango, avocado and crispy tempura bits topped with tobiko and special house sauce $6.95
  • This isn’t on the menu yet, but you can still order it and it will be on the menu. This was delicious and it was one of my favourites!
  • It’s almost like a cold Japanese salad and it’s very light, yet very flavourful.

  • There’s big chunks of sweet mango, ripe avocado and lots of pieces of salmon and tuna sashimi at the bottom. The ingredients were all very fresh.
  • It’s creamy from the avocado, sweet from the mango with crispy bits of tempura and salty bites of tobiko.
  • The house sauce was a sweet sauce and I’m pretty sure it was unagi sauce which is almost like Teriyaki sauce. It was savoury and sweet with the perfect amount of spice from the spicy tuna. Everything worked very well together in flavour and texture and I wanted another one. If you like all these ingredients, you’ll love this.

**Spicy Tuna Sashimi4.5/6

  • 5 pieces for $5.95 (Mine was a double order)
  • This is a highly recommended item and it’s labeled “famous” on the menu, but a lot of things are as well.
  • The spicy tuna here is very good! It’s different from most places and it’s all about their homemade spicy sauce rather than the tuna itself.
  • The sauce is made with sesame oil and chili oil, but it’s not a very oily sauce either. I’m not sure what else is in it, but it’s excellent.
  • It’s very aromatic and nutty in flavour and has the perfect amount of savoury, sweet, and spice to balance everything out.
  • It’s also comes with shredded daikon which is great eaten with the tuna and sauce.

**Captain Crunch Roll4/6

  • Prawn tempura, avocado, cucumber with spicy mayo and special sauce $7.95
  • This was a popular and famous roll. It’s a massive deep fried roll and it was good and worth it for $7.95.

  • The batter is a light and crispy Panko crust and the only problem I had was that they should have blotted it on paper towel before serving it because it was really greasy.
  • It was quite fishy tasting and I liked the creaminess of the avocado. It’s quite a substantial roll and it’s pretty filling with the deep fried tempura also on the inside. Since it’s served warm it fees like a heavier roll when you eat it. I wouldn’t want to eat this entire roll myself because I think I would get tired of the taste, but sharing it is great.
  • The Japanese mayo was actually not that spicy unless you ate it alone, otherwise I couldn’t really taste the spiciness. It also had a special house sauce which was pretty much on everything and that tasted like a combination of sweet unagi sauce (almost like Teriyaki sauce).
  • Another deep fried roll I enjoyed even more is the Fire Cracker Balls from Koto Izakaya Sushi & Robata.

Kitstaya Roll (Salmon and Mango Roll) – 3.5/6

  • Crab meat, cucumber and avocado topped with fresh mango and salmon sashimi. Served with rainbow sauce. $7.95

  • This was the sweetest roll out of the 3 I tried. It was pretty much a California roll with some mango and salmon sashimi. The mango was very fresh and ripe and they were very generous with it. The sushi rice is also a bit bland and I could taste it in this roll because it acted as a filler and the other ingredients were quite simple.
  • Again it was a big roll, but I would have preferred less rice.
  • The rainbow sauce (clear orange sauce) was almost like a honey marmalade except it didn’t have an orange taste to it. It was a thin syrup and it tasted like honey and it really brought out the flavour of the mango. I needed to dip this one in soy sauce and wasabi though because it was a bit too sweet overall for me. They served it with the “special house sauce” which was the same Teriyaki-like sweet and savoury sauce served with the previous 3 dishes.

Canuck Roll3/6

  • Tuna tempura, avocado, cucumber topped with spicy tuna, tempura crunch, masago, sesame, mayo and special house sauce $7.95
  • This roll had a lot of potential, but it was actually really dry although it doesn’t look like it with all the sauce and toppings it had.

  • The tuna tempura in the middle was overcooked so it made the roll really dry especially since there was so much of it. I also wish they used a Panko batter for the tempura because it would have lightened things up a bit since it was already topped with more crispy bits of tempura.
  • It was slightly spicy, but it was missing a flavour or it needed an additional sauce.  This one definitely needed soy sauce and wasabi, but not only for flavour but just to make moist and easier to chew and swallow.

This was a few different things served on one plate. You can order them each separately and they’ll just put it altogether.

Brown Rice Sushi – California Roll2/6

  • $2.95 (I don’t recall if it’s extra for brown rice)
  • I was very surprised to see a simple restaurant like this offer brown rice sushi.
  • The brown rice sushi rice was a bit sweeter and had more flavour than the regular sushi rice. I’ve had brown rice rolls before, and this one was okay.
  • Even if they use fake crab meat in their California rolls I wish they flaked it and mixed it with mayo though. I am being a bit picky though since it’s only $2.95.
  • You can request brown rice with any of their sushi rolls so I thought that was great!

Avocado tower

  • This thing got me excited! I don’t even think it’s on the menu, but under the circumstance I think they used it as decor for the plate.
  • It was a beautiful dome made from thin slices of avocado and inside the dome was more avocado, scallop sashimi, salmon sashimi in the special house sauce marinade that was almost like Teriyaki sauce. It was served with a bed of crispy fried tempura bits.

It looks very impressive, but I actually liked the Kitstaya Tuna Salad better. This one just tasted like sashimi and Teriyaki sauce with some avocado.


Japanese Sake

  • Kitstaya offers a selection of beef, sake and wine too.
  • The sake can be served warm or cold. It’s served in a bottle that whistles after pouring it. It’s cute.

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7 Comments

  • Bow says:

    Too “faux French” for my tastes; not a fan of large rolls with sauce…I prefer the “classical Japanese” taste of very fresh fish and not so much rice. After a few rolls they tend to taste the same; although these rolls look great. Wish that Kitstaya had let you try more variety rather than rolls.

  • KimHo says:

    Similar to Bow’s thoughts, too much roll for me! But, then again, ordering nigiri sushi would have been difficult to share. Hmmmmm…. Makes me wonder how their nigiri sushi would be…

  • Mijune says:

    Bow – you are right about that part… they do start to taste the same because of the repetitive sauces… but the prices are so reasonable I have to let it go a bit.

    KimHo – yup! big rolls! but that’s the market/image they go for… not as big as Samurai of course. Only one way to find out of their Nigiri is good… can’t wait to read YOUR post!

  • I didn’t know that this place was still open, I used to go when it was called Kitsalano Sushi..Kitstaya is pretty close though, I will have to go back soon,
    some of those dishes you had look fantastic

  • Mijune says:

    @Peter Holbrook – they were and I was pleasantly surprised!! I wasn’t expecting much at all! And for the prices.. nothing to complain about really.

  • Heather says:

    We have gone to Kits Sushi for years. It has taken a huge turn for the worse in the last year. The service is POOR, waitresses blow you off with “wait” and never return; the Atlantic Roll we ordered advertised BBQ salmon, cucumber, avocado, in tempura style. It came as ground up something in a deep fried batter. When the long standing waitress was asked about it she said: ‘It’s changed, the menu is wrong.” No apology no exchange. Stay away. No tea refills/water in the past year. STAY AWAY.

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