Koto Izakaya Sushi & Robata

Restaurant: Koto Izakaya Sushi & Robata
Cuisine: Japanese/Izakaya/Sushi/Fusion
Last visited: August 3, 2010
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: #101-8171 Alexandra Road
Price Range: $10-20

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

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Popular for specialty fusion sushi rolls
  • Chinese owned and operated
  • Small restaurant/operation
  • Not really authentic Japanese Izakaya, but still good!
  • Extensive menu
  • Made upon order
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Creative rolls
  • Most house made sauces
  • Reasonably priced
  • Better Izakaya restaurant in Richmond
  • Sushi rolls better than Izakaya dishes
  • Late night specials
  • Mon-Sun dinner only 5pm-2:30am
  • Dine in/Take out

**Recommendations: Dobin Mushi, Salmon Carpaccio, Fire Cracker Balls, Red Spider Roll



Koto Izakaya Sushi & Robata is a Japanese restaurant located on eating street (Alexandra Road) in Richmond, BC. There’s about 5 Japanese “fusion” or Izakaya places on the strip, but I find most either overpriced or a weak attempt at Izakaya. I love Izakaya and fusion so I’ve been meaning to try Koto Izakaya Sushi and Robata for a while now, however the last time I tried to visit it was a failed attempt since they’re only opened for dinner. That led me to Red Fusion Cuisine which was even more of a failed attempt and not really fusion at all.

Anyways I was finally able to try Koto Izakaya and although it’s Chinese owned and operated I was pleasantly surprised with the overall food, quality and price; it’s one of the better ones in Richmond. The most creative and popular are definitely the specialty rolls rather than the Izakaya, so I would recommend sticking to those because they were most memorable and the best things we had. The Izakaya I wouldn’t say is authentic Japanese Izakaya, however it’s still very good and reasonably priced.

It’s not a busy restaurant, and it seems like the don’t have everything in stock. For such a small restaurant the menu is quite large so I feel like this combination means that the dishes aren’t always consistent. I just compared my order to Sherman’s (we ordered 2 of the same dishes) and his looks different, but better than mine did. So unless they’ve changed their recipes or chefs, they aren’t very consistent in execution or familiarized with the menu.

My experience at Koto Izakaya Sushi & Robata was somewhat different and it affected the service I received. I find myself getting in “trouble” or awkward situations every time I pull out a camera at a Japanese or Chinese Restaurant. My worst experience was at Sushi Sky when we had the menus removed from us. It’s definitely a paranoia of stealing menu ideas and I had a similar experience here. Although once I clarified my intentions of food blogging, I witnessed a complete attitude change and genuine service thus I cannot comment on the service I received. I am a food blogger though, so I will stick to commenting on the food and leave you to have your own experience.

On the table:

**Dobin Mushi – 5/6

  • Steamed seafood & mushroom soup $5.25
  • Dobin Mushi is a traditional Japanese appetizer and it’s basically steamed egg custard, so it’s like a savoury pudding.

  • This one took about 15 minutes to prepare so I know it’s made upon order. It’s the texture of silky tofu, but it’s made with eggs and a mushroom soup broth.
  • I tried an authentic Japanese version at Seto Sushi Japanese Restaurant down the street, but this one had more ingredients.  The one here is heavier in the egg and way stronger in mushroom flavour. As you break into the layer of steamed eggs there’s a natural mushroom soup juice that seeps out and it’s absolutely delicious!

  • It had a big piece of chicken on top and lots of Enoki mushrroms. The flavour was better here, but the texture was more silky smooth and better at Seto Sushi.

  • They gave a full shiitake mushroom cut in half and there was also a shrimp at the bottom of the cup. The shrimp wasn’t overcooked unlike the one at Seto Sushi too so I liked that. The shrimp was the only piece of seafood they gave though.
  • The ratio of ingredients to egg custard was almost half, and usually there should be more egg custard than ingredients, but I’m not complaining because it was all very good.

**Salmon Carpaccio – 4/6

  • Fresh Atlantic Salmon served in house special dressing with green onion and garlic sprinkles $6.75
  • The potion is quite small, I think there were 7 pieces of salmon.
  • The sauce was  sweet, savoury and tangy and all the flavours really came through and were well balanced. Even covered in the special house sauce and Japanese mayo I could still taste the fish.
  • There were no garlic sprinkles though, which I assume are deep fried garlic chips. I really missed those, although the toasted sesame seeds did add the nuttiness that the garlic chips would have also brought. Some crunchy shredded daikon would have been nice as well.
  • I think Sherman got the actual version when he came, this one seemed like the shortcut version.

Beef Carpaccio3/6

  • Served AAA beef with house dressing & sweet onions, wasabi mayo, green onion & Kaiware garlic sprinkles $6.50
  • The portion was again quite small, but I guess for the price it’s justified. The actual beef carpaccio slices were just a bit small and I have a feeling it’s not ordered often because it looked nothing like the one Sherman had. Again, mine looked like the quick attempt “work with what you have” version.
  • I couldn’t taste the wasabi mayo all that much and the house dressing was the same as the one on the salmon carpaccio. It worked better with the salmon though.
  • The quality of beef was high, bright red in colour and it was perfectly seared, thinly sliced and tender. However I couldn’t taste it under all the sauce and toppings so I thought the natural flavour of the beef was masked.
  • There were no Kaiware (radish seeds) and the garlic sprinkles were missing again. I would have liked less sauce, or perhaps a lighter Ponzu sauce and some freshly grated wasabi rather than the mayo.

**Fire Cracker Balls5/6

  • Panko crushed spicy tuna roll with spicy mayo, unagi sauce, scallops and tobiko $8.99
  • This was delicious! It sounded great and tasted even better.  The execution was wonderful and the plating caught me off guard, but it worked.
  • It was a deep fried sushi roll and the pieces were bite sized so you could eat it in one bite and get a taste of all the ingredients in and on the roll.
  • The Panko crust was very light and crispy and there was enough sauce and flavours that you didn’t need soy sauce or wasabi. It actually had a strong seaweed flavour because it’s sprinkled with lots of dried seaweed. The tuna and scallops give it a creamy texture as well as a seafood taste.
  • The unagi sauce I’m pretty sure is store bought (usually is) and it tastes almost like Teriyaki sauce but it’s thicker, sweeter and almost syrup like. It’s a savoury sauce, but it’s more sweet than savoury and it doesn’t taste fishy at all. The spicy mayo and spicy tuna inside the roll added the perfect amount of spice to balance out the sweetness.

Yum Yum Roll3/6

  • Real crab meat, chopped scallop, salmon, sweet shrimp roll in soy crepe, masago and mango roll $12.95
  • I found this roll to be a bit overpriced and expensive. It was a pretty big roll, but I’ve had better real dungeness crab rolls for the same price. It was good, but nothing amazing.
  • This was the only roll that needed soy sauce and wasabi because alone it was a bit bland or on the sweeter side. The sushi rice isn’t as flavourful as I would like, but the texture was fine and they didn’t use it as a filler to make the roll look bigger.
  • The soy crepe doesn’t have any flavour, but it does look pretty. I could taste the mango and the salmon the most and I liked the salty crunchiness from the masago.
  • It was served on a mango sauce that tasted like real mango syrup, but it didn’t do much except add to the mango taste that was already inside the roll. I’ve had a mango roll from Taka’s Sushi that was very similar, but with a yellow soy crepe and pistachio nuts!
**Red Spider Roll – 6/6
  • Spicy tuna, crab, asparagus, soft shell crab topped with tobiko & spicy eel sauce $10.99
  • This was my highlight for sure and the best roll we ordered. I would have rather paid $12.95 for this roll, it looked and tasted more gourmet than the Yum Yum roll.
  • It was stuffed with a lightly battered and very crispy and crunchy soft shell crab and the sauce was amazing. The spicy eel sauce was what made the roll so spectacular. It was a special made in house sauce and it was savoury, sweet, tangy, nutty and spicy and it tasted like there was sesame oil in it too. It’s very aromatic and I only wanted more. It was like a nutty sweet Thai chili sauce but way better.
  • It was a massive sushi roll and they real loaded it with ingredients. I only wish that the spicy tuna was actually marinaded in spicy tuna sauce or in the spicy unagi sauce.
  • I could taste everything except for the asparagus, but I got the crunch from the soft shell crab so the textures were still there.
  • This roll is one of their popular rolls and I would come back just for this.


  • Marinated Japanese octopus salad in wasabi dressing $3.95
  • This was recommended, but I didn’t order it. Therefore the owner gave it to us complimentary at the end of the meal. (The food blogger thing can be a motivating factor… )
  • I am very familiar with this dish though and I do like it. I just didn’t expect them to do a good job on such a traditional Japanese appetizer so I decided to skip it. To my surprise they actually did a good job. It wasn’t authentic tako-wasabi like the one from Kingyo, but it was their own version and it was very good.

  • Tako-wasabi is almost always done with raw octopus, but this one was done with cooked octopus. It made the texture not as slimy and the octopus was actually quite tender and crunchy rather than chewy. It’s a very light salad mixed with marinated Japanese pickles, celery, green onions and some fresh seaweed. They used a lot more ingredients than most Japanese places would use, but it worked.
  • It has a very strong fresh wasabi flavour and I really loved that. Its not too much though or overly spicy to the point of having it burn, but it is obvious – as it should be.
  • How to eat it is to spoon some of the Japanese octopus onto a piece of seaweed, fold it, and almost eat it like a taco. It’s a great appetizer and a great way to start any Japanese meal because the wasabi just opens up your taste buds.


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