Sushi Hachi 鮨八

Restaurant: Sushi Hachi 鮨八
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi/Sashimi
Last visited: April 6, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8888 Odlin Crescent
Price Range: $10-20, 20-30+

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

Food: 4
Service: 4
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Japanese owned/operated
  • Husband & wife operation
  • Authentic
  • Specializes in nigiri/sushi
  • Most popular for sashimi
  • Fresh quality sashimi
  • Some daily specials
  • Hidden gem
  • Local favourite
  • Limited menu
  • No hot foods
  • Some robata (BBQ)
  • Some Japanese beers/wine
  • Very busy on Fri/Sat
  • Reservations strongly recommended
  • Free parking lot
  • Cash & Interac only
  • Last call 9pm
  • Tues-Sat: 6pm-9pm
  • Closed Monday & Sunday

**Recommendations: Popular for sashimi. I recommend Chef’s Selection Sashimi, Sockeye Salmon Sashimi, Red Tuna Sashimi, Blue Fin Tuna Sushi (but expensive), Shima-Aji Sushi, Saba Sushi (Japanese Mackerel), BBQ Salmon Skin Salad, BBQ Marinated Kanpachi and BBQ Marinated Black Cod.

 

After several unsuccessful attempts I have finally made my visit. For a place that’s only open for dinner 5 days a week, for 3 hours a day, and to still be successful, means that they must be doing something right… or they’re just rich. Or both! I strongly recommend making reservations on Friday or Saturday nights (if possible) and even on weekdays as it’s almost certain that every single table will be reserved.

Sushi Hachi in Richmond, BC is a hidden gem and local favourite for fresh sashimi and nigiri. There’s no stove and the only hot food served is a very limited selection of robata (Japanese BBQ) and one oden (Japanese hot pot), otherwise it’s all about the sashimi and sushi. So if you don’t do raw fish, then don’t do Sushi Hachi. There are a selection of traditional sushi rolls offered for a very fair price, but the one I tried was only mediocre. I think it’s best to stick to sashimi and nigiri (sushi) although the robata was also a highlight.

It’s owned by a Japanese family and the husband is the chef running the kitchen and sushi bar while his wife manages the front. Besides the Diana Krall music, it’s completely authentic in style with the daily sashimi listed in Japanese on the wooden plank menus.

There’s so much hype about this place being the best in Metro Vancouver for fresh sashimi and traditional sushi that my expectations were skyrocketing. It wasn’t until after talking to previous Sushi Hachi regular, @Fmed, at the Noodle-Mania event when he told me that the quality of Sushi Hachi had gone downhill. He also left me a comment on my El Barrio post (see here) about how the slices of fish had become thinner and the selection of sashimi was further limited. I was quite disappointed to hear that I didn’t get to try Sushi Hachi at its best, but I still had to see for myself. I also received a couple recommendations recently to go try it – see comments on my Kiriri Japanese Cuisine & Sushi post.

I have all due respect for all commenters, bloggers and foodies (food enthusiast for those that cringe at “foodie”… but then why on “Follow Me Foodie“?) etc., but I must say that I’m in agreement with @Fmed. I realize that I don’t have the “before” to compare to, but the “after” wasn’t that impressive and I found it a bit poor value for the sashimi. The selection was definitely limited, although very fresh and good quality, but the slices were so thin that it sacrificed the flavour of some of the sashimi. Manzo, just walking distance, has more selection but the cutting technique isn’t as great. I don’t question that the Sushi Hachi chef/owner has knife skills to be reckoned with, but it’s just sliced really thin and the pieces are generally smaller than they should be.

Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by great sashimi and nigiri lately, especially the ones from Tokachi Japanese, that I wasn’t as blown away? I mean generally it was all still very good, but I don’t doubt that it used to be better. I’d still come back, but I’d be selective on my order.

On the table:

**Chef’s Selection Sashimi – 4/6

  • $25
  • From top (12:00) – Aji (Jack Mackerel), Kanpachi (Amberjack), Tako (Octopus), Sockeye salmon, Ahi Tuna, Marugai (Geoduck) and Madai (Seabeam) in the centre.
  • This is the only way to get a nice sample of all their sashimi without drilling a massive hole in your wallet.
  • As I said in the intro, the pieces were sliced really thin that it ended up sacrificing the flavour and the flavour was gone before I could really enjoy it.
  • Some of the fish I do expect to be cut thin (intentionally), but for the most part the pieces were skimping rather than showing technique and enhancing flavour.
  • Note: the flavour of all sashimi will vary according to the particular fish they happen to have.
  • They should serve their sashimi with some freshly grated wasabi too. I’d expect it from here.

  • Aji (Jack Mackerel) Sashimi 3.5/6
    • This was sliced really thin despite the macro-picture and it was already from a small fish. It is supposed to be cut thin, but it was really thin and small.
    • It has a very mild flavour and it isn’t fishy for being a Mackerel. It was served authentically with onions and grated ginger which made it refreshing and clean in flavour.
    • I’m just bothered that the ginger was old, woody and chewy with no heat or ginger aroma.

  • Kanpachi (Amberjack) Sashimi 4.5/6
    • It was firm, thick, meaty and buttery in flavour, but not oily.
    • The thinner cut is understandable for this fish due to its richer flavour and firm texture.
  • Tako (Octopus) – 4/6
    • It was meaty, firm, pretty thick cut rather than carpaccio and a bit crunchy yet tender.
  • Sockeye Salmon Sashimi – 5/6
    • This was excellent, but definitely cut too thin. The best salmon sashimi to date is from Tokachi Japanese.
  • Ahi Tuna Sashimi – 4.5/6
    • I didn’t really want an ahi tuna on my sashimi platter, but it was chef’s choice.
    • It was lightly seared, topped with chopped onions.
    • Again the pieces were much too small and usually I would see that size on a sashimi salad. The searing was perfect though.
  • Marugai (Geoduck) Sashimi – 5/6
    • This was also excellent. It has a very chewy and crunchy texture and it’s not fishy, but briney tasting.
    • I would ask for a ponzu sauce for dipping over soy sauce.
  • Medai (Seabeam) Sashimi – 4.5/6
    • It has a very clean flavour and it’s not very fishy. Best ordered in the Spring.
    • It would have been great with a bit of sea salt rather than soy.
    • I wasn’t a fan of the the knife skills on this one and they were cut so thin it was almost splitting.

 

Red Tuna & Toro (Tuna Belly) Sashimi

  • Toro (Tuna Belly) Sashimi – 4/6
    • $14.50
    • My favourite tuna belly to date is from Kiriri. They scrape the tuna belly rather than cutting it, and although it may not be “proper” technique I find it gets the natural tuna oils warmed up and flowing. See here, it works!
    • This was nice and buttery and oily with oil that coated my lips, but it still wasn’t as buttery as the ones from Kiriri or Tokachi. Perhaps they just had a super fatty fish in that day, but the one from Kiriri is memorable to this date.
    • The one here had a nice fatty rim like duck, but it wasn’t as melt in your mouth, creamy or strong in tuna flavour as others I’ve had, although still very good.

  • **Red Tuna Sashimi – 4.5/6
    • $18
    • The red tuna was great, but I like it when it’s almost burgundy in colour with a more intense flavour.
    • The cut could have been slightly thicker as well especially for a tuna, but the flavour was fresh, clean and steak like.

I really appreciated the 2 methods of serving it and the seaweed is good quality here. I enjoyed this cube like cut better.

**Nigiri/Sushi – 5/6

  • This is the next thing to hit up after the sashimi.
  • This is me being picky, but I do wish he arranged the sushi according to increasing intensity of flavours.
  • The sushi rice is surprisingly a bit bland, although the quality of the rice is great and texture was sticky and moist.
  • I actually like the sushi rice at Kiriri and Tokachi better, and then the best to date is at Miku Restaurant or Tojo’s for me.

Prepared authentically with a touch of wasabi underneath.

  • The seaweed quality is also great and the wasabi was nice and strong.
  • The sashimi was better cut with the nigiri than the sashimi too.

**Blue Fin Tuna (Otoro) – 6/6

  • $5.50
  • Helloooo Mercury levels. This is one of my very guilty indulgences. I don’t have it everyday, nor could I afford to if I wanted to, but it’s high in Mercury especially if it’s a big fish – see the massive Blue Fin tuna sashimi I had in Malaysia here.
  • This was a young Blue Fin tuna so it was light pink, which also means it has less Mercury which is good, but then the flavour isn’t as strong.
  • This was my favourite sashimi of the night and the cutting technique was perfect.
  • It was still very oily, creamy, buttery and fatty Blue Fin Tuna despite its young age.

Toro (Tuna Belly) – 3.5/6

  • $2.50
  • This was mediocre and many people rave about how good it is here.
  • It was good, but definitely not as good as the toro from Kiriri or Tokachi.
  • As mentioned above in the sashimi platter, at Kiriri they scrap the tuna belly rather than slicing it, and it just released its oils. I really loved it at Kiriri.
  • It was still buttery and the oil did coat my lips, but it just wasn’t as creamy as I’ve had before and for some reason the fish flavour was mild for a toro.
  • On the other hand, the flavour of all sashimi will vary according to the particular fish they happen to have.

**Shima-Aji (Striped Jack/Horse Mackerel) – 5/6

  • Daily special/Market price About $4-5
  • This is a Japanese sushi connoisseur’s favourite sashimi.
  • It has a very mild flavour and it’s somewhat creamy, but not like tuna or toro at all.
  • It’s a bit firmer and a bit crunchier and if you like tuna, you’ll like this although it’s not as strong or fishy in flavour.

Saba (Japanese Mackerel) – 5/6

  • $3
  • This was a gorgeous saba, but the cutting technique wasn’t great.
  • It was shiny and firm with a nice fish flavour and it was more pink than I’m used to.
  • I actually wouldn’t have guessed it was saba if it wasn’t for the skin. It was a bit buttery for a saba, but I really enjoyed it.

Mirugai (Geoduck) – 5/6

  • $3
  • It’s a fairly large piece of geoduck sashimi they give you.
  • It’s very good quality, but in terms of flavour it tasted like a very meaty, crunchy and firm clam.
  • I would ask for ponzu dipping sauce over soy sauce for this.

Real Crab – 3.5/6

  • $3
  • The crab was flaky and juicy with a salty flavour and I liked that it wasn’t flakey completely so that I could still bite into the actual pieces.
  • I’d really like to think it wasn’t frozen crab meat, and it was still good, but the salty flavour was a bit reminiscent of it…
  • There was also a touch of mayo between the rice and crab to give it some richness.

Ikura (Salmon Roe) – 4.5/6

  • $2.50
  • It’s about 1/4 filled with Ikura and I just love the salty mildly sweet juicy bursts of salmon roe. All I need is a bit of wasabi.
  • The seaweed is good quality here so that was a bonus.

Tamago (Egg) – 4/6

  • $1
  • The testimate of a good Japanese restaurant. The best one is still at Aki Japanese for me.
  • It was very mildly sweet, not over cooked, but also not juicy. I just wanted it to be more layered and fluffy.
  • There wasn’t any use of dashi in it, but I feel lucky whenever I get a place that does use it for their tamago.

**BBQ Salmon Skin Salad – 6/6

  • $4.50
  • I loved this salad and I’d actually come back just for it.
  • I had a more modern style version of it at Gyo-O Kasien Shokudo, but I liked this one just as much.
  • It was a generous amount of crispy fried salmon skin strips with refreshing julienne cucumber, daikon and salty crunch of tobiko dressed in a savoury and slightly tangy soy-ponzu sauce. I could have used more ponzu though for more of a vinaigrette.
  • It’s a delicious salad with all sorts of crispy and crunchy textures and it’s almost like a BC roll in salad form.
  • The salmon skin has a smoky charcoal flavour and it is noticeable better than most Japanese places making it or serving it in a BC roll.

Shiokara (Squid Guts) – 1/6

  • $3
  • I’ve never tried this before and it’s the seafood version of a Japanese pickle. It’s acquired.
  • It didn’t smell good and it didn’t taste great, but apparently it’s much better with beer.
  • I’m assuming it’s like Tako Wasabi, but it should come with a “must drink with beer” warning sign.

  • I know the image doesn’t look much better.
  • It’s super slimy, gooey and jelly like and almost rancid in smell.
  • It’s fermented squid guts and it’s extremely fishy, salty and tangy.
  • The sauce tastes like potent fish liver sauce or really strong melted anchovies and sardines.
  • It’s filled with long white slimy strands of internal squid organs and every strand I bit into would burst out a salty juice reminiscent of pungent salmon roe.

California & BBQ Eel – 2/6

  • $6 – upgrade to real crab about $8
  • This was the most disappointing after the squid guts, which is just acquired.
  • I asked for the real crab upgrade, but the roll was just poorly assembled and the pieces were all different sizes and almost falling apart at times.
  • The rice was sticky and good, but a bit dry and lacking in flavour and the BBQ eel on top was so thin that I question if it was mashed and used as a spread.
  • The BBQ eel tasted like a powdery soft panko tempura batter and I could barely taste any eel at all. It wasn’t even that crispy for being barbequed and it tasted like panko crumbs with some sweet unagi sauce mixed in.
  • I could taste the flaky juicy crab, but not the avocado and overall it just wasn’t well executed.

**BBQ Marinated Kanpachi – 5/6

  • $5
  • My usual Sablefish was out of stock (I almot cried) so I aimed for the kanpachi.
  • It was amazing! They do a fantastic job with the robata and it was almost as good as my favourite robata place to date Aki Japanese Restaurant.
  • It’s so slowly grilled that the smoky charcoal flavour is throughout and the exterior is intensely charred and crispy.
  • It was smokey, savoury and a bit sweet from a lightly sweetened sake marinade.
  • It was firm, yet flakey, buttery and  juicy and perfectly cooked.
  • It’s not comparable to my favourite Sablefish, but the robata technique was so convincing that I know they’ll ace the Sablefish.

**Salmon Neck – 4.5/6

  • $4.50
  • This was the daily special.
  • It was again perfectly barbequed with a crispy charcoal and smoky skin, but the salmon meat was a tad dry.
  • The salmon also wasn’t marinated very well and it really needed the lemon because it was bland otherwise.
  • Regardless, they have a good handle on the robata, just a very small selection of it.

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14 Comments

  • Linda says:

    OMG the chef’s selection sashimi is so poultry! for that price, i’d rather get a really good selection of nigiri sushi – totally not worth it too because the chef mangled that fish.. all the pieces look very poorly cut as if the knife wasn’t sharp enough.. and as you know, it’s all about the knife with sashimi – this is very disappointing, even some AYCE places can do a better job!

    mmm i used to not like tuna at all for sashimi selections but i found now that i like only fatty tuna.. the meat is rich and creamy and if the rice is just the right temperature, the fat just melts in your mouth.. yum!

    the squid guts look so scary and soupy! i don’t know how you got that down lol the eel and california roll looks so wrong – the eel looks like baby food and kinda dry.. whenever i see eel wrapped around rolls, the eel is always topped off nicely with some sauce, not the case here 🙁

    mmm i guess maybe opening 3 hrs a night causes some sort of excitement and exclusivity for this place but i definitely won’t be coming here for fresh fish 🙁

  • Mike says:

    My favorite place for sushi! They’re spicy tuna roll is really good too albeit messy. I even think they put toro in it instead of just regular tuna.

    You can ask them to lightly torch the blue fin tuna which I think adds a lot since it’s so oily and buttery!

  • Bow says:

    The Chef’s Selection is disappointing for the price…chirashi don is the way to go for a nice selection, good places offer 7 to 9 different kinds of fish, roe and tomago for 1/2 that price. I agree the knife skills aren’t great.You really ate your way through the menu, nice…no dessert ? I find the best palate cleanser after sushi isn’t Japanese plum wine but ice cold vodka.
    Don’t worry about the mercury levels, the amount of sugar you pack away from your love of desserts is going to do you in first.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – lol your comment is so cute! I love that you read everything!! I never have to re-answer anything and I just love reading your reactions lol!! but yes the squid guts :(…. and nice call on the toro and hot rice… i totally agree with you. I love toro… tuna is growing on me and the best is still at Tokachi! Yum!! Thanks for your comment Linda!

    @mike – don’t you find they’ve gone down in quality? The pieces were really small and thin. Okay now I may go back just to try that spicy tuna… and selective nigiri 🙂

    @Bow – lol the only dessert was green tea ice cream so I passed.. and yes this dinner did add up!! It wasn’t worth it despite how fresh the fish was. You’re right about the dessert… I have to REALLY start to limit my intake.. I’m getting older as we speak! 🙁

  • Nathan Chan says:

    @Linda – When I saw poultry, I was thinking that chicken wasn’t really a good candidate for raw meat XD

    @Mijune – I recently went to the Manzo location on Alexandria. I think the menus might be different. The Alexandria location seems to have no rolls at all on the menu, and seems to have more grilled items than I recall at the Capstan Way/Garden City location.

  • Mijune says:

    @Nathan Chan – yup the menus are different! Except Manzo isn’t really known for rolls and they actually don’t offer many at either location. But no rolls AT ALL? I didn’t know that.

  • jay foo says:

    I’m honestly surprise looking through your blog that you have never reviewed Ajisai in Kerrisdale. It is one of my favorite sushi places and their cuts of sashimi are fresh and taste very clean. The hotate and toro belly explodes in your mouth like butter and the texture is the perfect consistency to gently slide down your throat to a very happily awaiting stomach. I thought I should mention them if your talking about freshest in Vancouver.

  • Mijune says:

    @jay foo – I just put that on my list! Thanks for the suggestion!! I’m not in Kerrisdale often, but I’m definitely checking out this place. Okay the way you described the hotate and toro belly.. I’m drooling. Thank you!!

  • Ed says:

    I hear great things about the unagi don here but still never got around to trying this place. I used to live within 5 minutes walking distance too.

  • Mijune says:

    @Ed – aww boo!! Well it’s hard to get a seat, but it might be worth a try to settle your curiosity. I wasn’t too impressed with the unagi they used on my sushi roll… so I question this unagi don you speak of.

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