Tokiwa Sushi

Restaurant: Tokiwa Sushi
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Last visited: December 10, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Shaughnessy)
Address: 3720 Oak Street
Price Range: $10 or less

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

Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Specializes in sushi
  • Creative sauces/fusion rolls
  • Organic brown rice available
  • Wild sockeye salmon used
  • Made upon order
  • House made sauces
  • Excellent for individual dining
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Cheap eats/budget friendly
  • Nice and strong wasabi
  • Limited seating
  • Lunch/Dinner combos
  • Take-out

**Recommendations: Energy Roll, Pumpkin Roll

Tokiwa Sushi used to be called Hiroshi Sushi and everyone loved it. I went to Hiroshi’s about 3 years ago and I remember it being decently good with a creative menu of fusion rolls. After changing to Tokiwa Sushi, nothing about the menu has changed except the rolls are bigger. They’re actually a good size, not huge and not tiny.

It’s not really a hole in the wall as much as it is a shoebox. It fits maybe 15 people, it’s clean and the menu is actually quite fancy considering the ambiance and prices. The value is there and it’s nothing superb, but it’s a solid choice if you’re not too picky on sushi and just looking for something good and affordable. I just hate how small the tables are and it’s extremely cramped. It’s definitely a get in/get out place.

The rice is flavourful, the combos are a great deal and the service is quite fast with rolls made upon order. The home made sauces are a highlight, but the execution in which they use them is wasted because it’s not enough. They don’t incorporate the sauces into the roll and just dollop them on top. Nonetheless  it’s a pretty nice bang for your buck and there isn’t anything like it within the area so I would consider it somewhat of a hidden gem… but it’s more unexpected than it is a “gem”.

Don’t forget to save room for dessert and head up a couple blocks to Dragon Ball Tea House for some excellent fresh fruit bubble tea – I prefer their Japanese green tea ice cream bubble tea especially after Japanese food.

On the table:

Seaweed Salad – 2.5/6

  • $3.25
  • If you like fresh, crunchy, slimy seaweed with a nutty crunch of sunflower seeds, in a tangy dressing similar to sunomono, and with a slight fishy taste, then you’ll like this dish.
  • I like fresh seaweed, but I’m not crazy about it. It’s very simple and it was a bit too one dimensional in flavour for me. The sunflower seeds were a nice addition, but without it, I wouldn’t really care too much for it.

Spicy Spinach Goma-ae1.5/6

  • $3.25
  • It was quite watery, soggy and bland. It was too lightly dressed and the spinach was holding to much water to hold any sauce.
  • I’m quite confident in saying the sesame dressing used to marinade the spinach was bottled. It wasn’t spicy at all and the nuttiness was very mild. The spiciness comes at the very end after you finish chewing and swallowing and it lasts for 1 second.
  • For me if the menu says “spicy” it should be decently spicy. If people don’t like spicy they wouldn’t order spicy.

Vegetarian Combo – 3.5/6

  • $7 +HST (Organic brown rice + $.50)
  • As a whole, for $7 this is a solid deal, but if you look at each roll individually they were okay.
  • It’s still totally worth it considering you get a good variety to sample with a couple creative fusion rolls.

Veg Roll (front)2.5/6

  • With Miso Mayo sauce 6pcs $3.50
  • It had potential with a nice variety of crunchy and juicy sweet veggies that were perhaps very mildly pickled as well. There just wasn’t enough Miso Mayo sauce though. I think they should have coated all the vegetables in the sauce before rolling it up too.
  • The Miso Mayo sauce isn’t strong enough alone and it needs the soy sauce and wasabi dip.

Spicy Avocado Roll (back) – 2/6

  • 6pcs $3
  • I do like creamy sweet avocado and spicy sauces. Again, I wish there was more sauce still because it needed the soy sauce and wasabi.
  • The spicy sauce wasn’t that spicy again, but it was spicier than the “spicy goma-ae”. It actually tasted exactly like that tangy grainy carrot salad dressing they serve on top of Japanese salads, but mixed with some spicy tuna sauce.

**Pumpkin Roll (front) – 4/6

  • Parmesan with Curry Mayo Sauce 6pcs $3.75
  • This was delicious! It’s the only one I would order individually.
  • It was the strongest sauce by far with lots of savoury creamy curry flavour. I also love Japanese Kaboocha squash (pumpkin) so I’m a bit biased. It tasted like sweet and savoury creamy butternut squash. I actually didn’t know there was Parmesan in it and I could barely taste it and it wasn’t cheesy at all.
  • I loved the savoury and sweet balance and the creamy rich soft texture. This one worked well without the crunch.
  • I could enjoy this one without the soy sauce, but it didn’t hurt to have it either.

Age Roll (back) – 2.5/6

  • Age tofu with veggies, peanut sauce & cilantro 6pcs $3.50
  • The sauce had potential, but again it needed a hand from the soy sauce and wasabi. Alone it was pretty dry since the peanut sauce is quite thick and gloppy. It’s almost like the authentic Thai peanut sauce they serve with chicken skewers. It’s the smooth honey style sauce rather than the Malaysian style sauce with the ground peanuts.
  • I love the combination of tofu and peanuts, very common in vegetarian cuisine, but in this context it could have been better executed.

Goma Salmon Roll – 3/6

  • Asparagus with Miso Mayo sauce $4
  • The sauce wasn’t strong enough alone and it tasted like the same sauce they used in the goma-ae. It needed much more Miso and it was more like bottled sesame sauce that was nuttier more than it was savoury.
  • The salmon was fresh wild sockeye salmon which was excellent, but there was so little asparagus I could only taste the texture of it but not the flavour.

Tropical Roll – 3/6

  • Salmon with avocado & mango sauce $4.25
  • It really needed the soy sauce and wasabi. The mango sauce was a nice and sweet creamy puree of mangoes, but again, not enough.
  • I loved the Wild Sockeye Salmon, but the roll was actually quite simple, on the sweeter side, and it could have used some real mango inside. But for $4.25, I can’t really expect it.

**Energy Roll – 4/6

  • Tuna, pumpkin with garlic lime sauce $4
  • This is the most popular roll. It’s also a larger one and it’s well worth it.
  • It might be because I like pumpkin, but it was also the only other one that possibly didn’t need the soy sauce and wasabi, although it was better with it.
  • The texture was a bit too creamy and the fresh tuna flavour was a bit lost, but I did like the salty and tangy sharp bites of the garlic lime sauce.
  • There was a layer of fried garlic, but it wasn’t crispy and I almost swear it was pork floss or dried pork fluff. It was the same texture, but I didn’t taste the pork part so I could be mistaken.
  • For $4, it’s nothing to complain about.

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7 Comments

  • SushiTail says:

    The pumpkin roll is something I’ve never seen before. That is an interesting concept!

  • Mijune says:

    @SushiTail – Yes! and it was the best one of what I tried 🙂

  • LotusRapper says:

    Hey I was just googling Tokiwa (to make sure they’re still open, planning for some take-out this coming Friday) and found your review, glad you’ve been there and liked them, Mijune !! 😀

    I don’t go to Tokiwa that often but they are a small “gem” here in my neighbourhood (Fairview Slopes) which surprisingly, lacks a really good sushi place. Shiro used to be good but I don’t quite feel that way about them anymore. There’s a new one further north on Oak (beside Rogers Video and doggy spa) that just opened up. These guys are trying to be upscale but my experience there was lacking, not to mention walking away paying $70 for dinner for 2 adults and one child and still feeling famished afterward.

    Anyway back to Tokiwa …… I LOVE their intimate scale and their homeyness. Sushi made with quality ingredients and TLC ….. all without MSG !

  • Mijune says:

    @LR – $70 for 2 ppl at “fancy” sushi places is all too familiar for me… yes I do order a lot.. but still it’s a big bill!! Oh I’m glad you liked Tokiwa too!! it used to be called Hiroshi (?) and they served the same stuff so maybe they just kept the staff and changed owners? This place is pretty cheap too!

  • Jonathan says:

    Just had lunch from there. The creative rolls are quite yummy!! My only issues with this place is it does tend to be a little slow on service and they close so early. Still worth checking out 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Jonaathan – I might revisit this place! Good neighbourhood sushi joint and affordable!

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