Yuu Japanese Tapas

Restaurant: Yuu Japanese Tapas
Cuisine: Japanese/Tapas
Last visited: March 9, 2010
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 1111 – 3779 Sexsmith Road
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20

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

Food: 2.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Japanese tapas/cafe items
  • Japanese/Chinese staff
  • Extensive menu
  • Casual, quick
  • Clean/modern
  • Extensive drinks/dessert menu
  • Japanese/Chinese/English menu
  • $5 minimum charge
  • Open late
  • Sun-Thurs. 12-3pm, 5-10pm
  • Fri-Sat. 12-3pm, 5-11pm
  • Closed Tuesday
  • Dine in/Take out

**Recommendations: Tako Yaki

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m a fan of Izakaya, which are places often associated with Japanese tapas. However when I get the sense that it’s Japanese tapas that are influenced by Chinese flavours that’s when things go a bit sideways. Or if I get the sense that the menu is big but there’s a lot of shortcuts taken that it sacrifices the flavour… that bothers me too. If the place was called “Yuu Japanese Chinese Tapas” or “Yuu Japanese Cafe” or something like that at least I would have my expectations set appropriately.

For all I know the owners, chefs and cooks could very well be Japanese, however I just didn’t feel it in the flavours of the food or really the ambiance of the whole place. The menu offerings are pretty typical of casual Japanese style cafes, and there’s nothing really “Chinese” on there, but the execution just didn’t taste “Japanese Izakaya” to me. There’s actually a decent amount of kimchi items as well, but the food is definitely not Korean, although perhaps Korean inspired.

The menu is quite extensive and it reminds me of Aoyama Cafe in Aberdeen Mall also in Richmond, BC. It’s like a Japanese version of a Taiwanese bubble tea shop, but there’s no bubble tea. Along side their selection of tapas there’s also a wide selection of drinks and desserts as well as rice, ramen, fried noodles, hot iron plates and hot pot.

Everything was actually more traditional and there’s nothing innovative going on with their tapas, but it wasn’t traditional enough to be considered Japanese. Oiy… I brought up that “traditional” word again. I guess I’m biased in the sense that the more familiar I am with the food, the more it might bother me when it comes to how “authentic” it claims to be. However even throwing the “authentic” idea out the window, was I that impressed with the food? I’d say the food was decent, but a bit pricey and I could find the same thing for almost the same price next door… almost literally too.

Yuu Japanese Tapas is competing with nearby restaurants that have more to offer in terms of flavour, so being that’s it’s rather new, I think they could consider in either stepping up their game. For Japanese tapas I’d rather pay a few dollars for better food at Gyo-O Kaisen Shokudo Japanese Restaurant, and even or ramen I’d pay the few extra at G-Men Ramen just a couple stores over.

On the table:

Tako Yaki – 3/6

  • Octopus balls with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, green laver and bonito flake (5 pcs) $4.99
  • It’s a savoury light battered and fried croquette. The inside is very creamy, but not rich like a cheesy bechamelย either.
  • These were actually quite good.
  • They have a slightly crispy exterior, fluffy and ultra creamy interior with a small octopus tentacle in the middle. It could have been more tender, but it was passable.
  • I was missing the dashi (Japanese stock) and pickled ginger flavour in the batter, although the onion flavour did come through.
  • They were flavourful, but just not as well executed with the traditional aspects of the recipe.
  • They’re topped with a sweet and tangy sauce called Okonomiyaki sauce which usually also has a Worcestershire kick, but this one lacked the kick.
  • The mayo was super creamy and it just intensified the creaminess of the whole dish.

Beef Cubes – 3/6

  • Tender beef cubes served hot on iron plate $7.99
  • These came highly recommended and I was expecting them to be outstanding, but it was okay.
  • It was sizzling hot and most pieces were tender, but some pieces were still very very chewy. The flavour also wasn’t well absorbed into the meat and it needed to be bolder. I think they need to pierce these cubes so the marinade can absorb throughout, they didn’t taste pre marinated.
  • The sauce was quite thin for the cubes and it’s a very basic au jus, garlic and soy sauce mixture with perhaps a little bit of Ponzu to give it a slight tang.
  • I didn’t really see the value in this and I probably would have if the beef was all tender and the flavour was bolder.

Japanese Pancake or Okonomiyaki – 2.5/6

  • Home made Japanese style pancake $5.99
  • Very pretty and well presented on a traditional grill (as it should be), but the flavour and execution wasn’t great. This was also very recommended and popular to order.
  • There’s a Kansai style (almost like a mixed omelette) and Hiroshima style of pancake (layered ingredients with lots of cabbage), and I actually prefer the Hiroshima version, which is less popular. I’ve tried at Clubhouse in Vancouver and it’s more like a crispy crepe with layered veggies and topped with Soba noodles and a fried egg.
  • This one seemed like their own made up version.
  • There was just a whole lot of Japanese mayo drizzled on top which overpowered the Okonomiyaki sauce (tangy and sweet Worcestershire sauce).
  • The pancake was very creamy, rich and indulgent and it was topped with nori flakes, bonito flakes and green laver.
  • Although it was pan fried and almost a bit burnt on both sides it still wasn’t crispy and it’s perhaps because it was too thick.

  • The Japanese pancake is basically shredded cabbage, veggies and an egg batter topped with sweet savoury sauce and Japanese may (Kewpie).
  • This one was almost all cabbage though.
  • This one was very gluey and it didn’t seem like it cooked all the way through and it tasted a bit bland and the cabbage wasn’t seasoned with enough salt or made with dashi stock.
  • There was some strips of pork on top, but not much and they were covered with mayo so all I tasted was mayo.
  • I prefer many more vegetables like bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms and even some seafood in my Okonomiyaki.
  • It’s not my favourite version of Okonomiyaki.

Tonkotsu Ramen – 2.5/6

  • Ramen in special pork bone (tonkotsu) soup base, topped with savoury BBQ pork, corn, egg & black wood ear mushroom $7.99
  • Really risky putting ramen on the menu. I’d much rather go a few stores down to my favourite ramen place in Richmond G-Men Ramen – see my post here.
  • The pork bone soup didn’t have much pork bone flavour and I almost thought there was some miso paste mixed into it.
  • It was somewhat creamy, but not from the richness of the pork au jus and it just fell very flat compared to places like Hokkaido Ramen Santouka or even Q-Go Ramen.
  • The egg was done quite well, but it wasn’t free range so the bright orange yolk was MIA. Not a big deal, but just saying.

  • I did really like the fact that it came with all the fixings and I didn’t have to add anything.
  • It was missing some bean sprouts, but whatever. The other ingredients made up for it’s absence.
  • The noodles were a bit overcooked and not chewy nor did they have an al dente bite.

  • The pork wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that moist either. Tender, but not moist.
  • It came with 2 pieces and it wasn’t as flavourful as I would have liked.
  • I think for the majority of people this ramen bowl would do the job at $8, but again I’d rather pay the extra for something better. I may be a slightly pickier ramen eater though.

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Yuu Japanese Tapas on Urbanspoon

16 Comments

  • Linda says:

    wow i’m surprised you ordered ramen at a non-ramen only place lol i don’ t think i could ever risk that but that’s why you’re so great! you test the items for us so at least we know what to expect if we do order them ๐Ÿ™‚

    too bad about the pancake – i’ve actually never tried one before – do you have an suggestions of a really good place to go for one? wow, the center of that pancake looks really gooey – i may have considered sending it back just so they can make it more well done

    mmm i love tako yaki – my favorites are actually the ones that they make at the powell st fest.. my company usually has a booth next to theirs during the festival so they give us plenty of delicious freebies ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – lol hahahahah yeah I know!! I was surprised myself but it was such a big section in the menu that I couldn’t resist. I’m happy to save your dollars ๐Ÿ™‚

    A really good pancake is from Club House!

    Thanks for your comment!!

  • Bryce Pugh says:

    Have you been to Nan Chuu? (apologies for not checking the archives first!) – It’s so good!
    It’s a Gyoza King property, so you probably have a good idea of what’s on the menu.

  • Mijune says:

    @Bryce Pugh – Let’s go in April! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sherry says:

    Adore your reviews, & always thrilled when there’s somewhere in Richmond I haven’t tried.

  • Bow says:

    Too bad the Tonkatsu was so blah, it should definitely have flavour. I see that the food looks better than it tastes. This mall now houses the Beijing cuisine which replaced the Shanghai cuisine(which I pumped up)…it’s pretty good, and the best BBQ duck at Sing Yee(near the TD bank).

  • Mijune says:

    @Sherry – awww and I adore you!!! Thank you for reading!

    @Bow – Ohhh what should I order at Beijing Cuisine? Thanks for the tips Bow!

  • Bow says:

    Mijune.their menu is pretty extensive…Peking duck, lamb dishes,good looking food from the meu pictures, the soups…all good.

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – excellent! Thank you!!

  • CC says:

    Actually izakaya means drinking place (zaka=sake) so maybe if you drank a lot before hand the food might have tasted better!

  • Mijune says:

    @CC – yes you’re right! I knew that too, but I guess I was just associating the small tapas style dishes with the whole “izakaya” concept. You’re very right though. My bad. You could be very right about part 2 of your comment too! but I don’t know if they serve liquor… which means it’s definitely not an “izakaya” place.

  • jer says:

    I have to say that the Okonomiyaki looks quite disappointing. Looks like its not layered correctly and seems a bit too gooey for my taste. I think there’s too much going in the dish and a simpler presentation could have sufficed. And I have to agree with your comment, looks like they went to town on the mayonnaise!

  • Mijune says:

    @jer – Definitely! It was super rich and the whole thing became creamy instead of crispy on the outside because of the overwhelming amount of mayo ๐Ÿ™ Thanks for the comment!…yeah photos don’t lie huh?

  • c-p says:

    What’s a decent place for good okonomiyaki?

  • Mijune says:

    @c-p – Clubhouse Sushi on West 2nd!

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