Kiso Island Sushi

Restaurant: Kiso Island Sushi
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Last visited: April 29, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Main Street/Mount Pleasant)
Address: 2718 Main Street
Price Range: $10 0r less

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

Food: 1.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 2
Additional comments:

  • Cheap sushi
  • Sushi/Noodle/BBQ
  • Vietnamese owned/operated
  • Daily$6.95 lunch specials
  • Cheap eats/budget friendly
  • VERY mediocre/poor quality
  • Quick/casual
  • Parking at rear
  • Happy hour
  • After 4pm – 20% off dine in
  • After 4pm – 10% off take out
  • Take out/Dine in
  • Accepts Visa/MC/Interac
  • Mon-Fri 11am-11pm
  • Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm

**Recommendations: n/a

Oh god I want to cry! This was such a dissatisfying experience that I almost don’t want to write about it because it means reliving it. It wasn’t even the worst restaurant by any means, but it was just so blah and sometimes blech.

I don’t know if it was that, or if I’ve just been spoiled by a series of excellent Japanese restaurants in the last few months that I can’t go back to anything else. It could partially be that, but this place has its faults even despite my recent positive experiences. It was almost like another Hakone Sushi experience, where I would rather have Samurai or T&T Supermarket sushi instead. The sashimi for sure I would rather have at either of those places before this one.

Kiso Island Sushi was another shot in the dark decision and another example of why I hate making random restaurant choices. It’s only once in a blue moon it ever works in my favour, and the perfect example of that was my visit to hidden gem Tokachi Japanese restaurant. Wow! What a hidden gem, but not the case here. Here I felt like I needed a lunch #2.

It’s a Vietnamese owned and operated Japanese restaurant and that’s not the issue I have. It’s just the poor quality and poor execution of many of their items and the sashimi wasn’t even fresh. I didn’t feel so good afterward and neither did my fellow diner.

The place has traffic and I think it’s been around for maybe about a year. However the massive 10% off banner and a quick look at the prices points out the obvious, it’s still standing because it offers cheap sushi. Even if so, I’d still prefer Samurai! The service was also nice, and I feel kind of bad for ripping them apart, but they have to know… I mean they must know already… there’s just no way they don’t. I guess I can’t complain too much since it was cheap, but I still wasn’t satisfied at all.

On the table:

Goma-ae Spinach - 3/6

  • $3.50
  • This was the only thing that I kind of enjoyed. For a goma-ae there was nothing particularly outstanding about it, but at least it was good.
  • The sesame sauce was smooth and it was a tad on the sweet side rather than a nutty side, but it was okay.
  • There were only toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top, but not in the actual sauce.

Salmon & Tuna Sashimi – 1/6

  • 7 pieces $8.50
  • :(
  • The pieces were massive and almost bigger than Samurai pieces, but it looked like someone took a hacking at them. The cutting was sloppy and it didn’t taste very fresh either.
  • The quality of the salmon and tuna were just really poor and I think this is what made me feel sick after.
  • To see amazing quality salmon and tuna sashimi see Tokachi Japanese – Salmon and Tuna Sashimi.

Mango Roll - 2.5/6

  • Crab, avocado, cucumber, mango and tobiko $5.95 (?)
  • This was a very mediocre mango roll.
  • I give them credit for being quite generous with the fresh mango, and the tobiko was a nice touch.
  • The rice however is bland, but the crab meat was plentiful and the avocado was ripe. The “crab” kind of tasted “grocery store” quality though.

Spicy Tuna Roll - 2/6

  • $3.25
  • I’m just really not a fan of the tuna sashimi here and I found this spicy tuna roll even a bit less than medicore.
  • It was a mild-medium spicy and the sauce was a tad sweet with some Japanese chili seasoning mixed in.
  • I like the tuna to be marinated in the spicy sauce and not just having the sauce poured over top too.
  • The rice was bland and the seaweed was chewy.

Soft Shell Crab Sushi Roll – 2/6

  • Soft shell crab and avocado $4.95
  • This is probably one of the cheapest soft shell crab rolls I’ve come across.
  • It was quite large, but poorly assembled, although I guess worth the price if you don’t care too much… just don’t let this be your idea of how good a soft shell crab roll can get.

  • The tempura soft shell crab was crunchy, but it was looking really brown and almost black. It tasted okay though, but the texture of the meat was a bit mushy.
  • The qulaity of the crab wasn’t the greatest or it could have just been poorly executed.
  • Again the rice was bland and the seaweed chewy, but not in a good way.

Bento Box A – 2/6

  • Chicken Teriyaki on rice, California roll (6 pieces), Prawn and vegetable tempura, salad, fruits and miso soup $8.95
  • It was a good deal I guess, but it didn’t taste that good, although it would satisfy a hunger pain.
  • The chicken teriyaki was similar to what you would have at an average all you can eat sushi place. Nothing particularly different.
  • The vegetable and prawn tempura were actually done quite well. They were crispy, not too greasy and the vegetables were tender.

  • The California roll was assembled really sloppy and it was better than Save-On Foods sushi, but it was falling apart as I picked them up.
  • The rice is bland and the crab used is one of the lowest quality of artificial crab… if that makes sense.

It came with a Miso soup, which was also standard… okay time for lunch #2. Unfortunately I just didn’t feel like this was a “give them another chance” kind of place. It was what it was and I’m not the market for it.


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Kiso Island Sushi on Urbanspoon

16 Comments

  • vYona says:

    Mijune,

    Have you tried Sushi Town? I think Sushi Town is also cheap! Good quality of food and good service too! if you love spicy, get their spicy salmon sashimi (i always order it). My recommendation is go to the north vancouver one…better ambiance and most of the servers speak english well (they have to ‘coz they have to cater mostly white people)

  • Bow says:

    There’s weeds amongst the roses. Kiso couldn’t even make a goood tasting (albeit non authentic) bento box ?, even non Japanese can do a better box than sushi/sashimi. I kinda think that some person bought this restaurant just to get their citizenship or they thought it would be easy work(not realizing the detail in running a Sushi place; it takes skill). The fish here doesn’t seem fresh. Well you haven’t hit many clunkers in your travels.

  • Linda says:

    o no!!! poor you mijune :( i wish you tweeted that you were going here beforehand – then i could’ve warned you to walk AWAY!! all of the kiso locations are only good for HOT FOOD only! i NEVER ever get anything raw here because everything seems so sketchy! wow, look how messy that california roll is! and the sashimi bigger than samurai?! wow, must’ve been massive! sorry you had to come here and i’m even more sorry you have to eat at floata! :(

  • Eric says:

    “Oh god I want to cry! This was such a dissatisfying experience that I almost don’t want to write about it because it means reliving it. It wasn’t even the worst restaurant by any means, but it was just so blah and sometimes blech” …..I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    I ate here 1 day before your visit. I was looking to grab a quick bite before watching the Canucks game nearby. I was with my friend who recommended Santouka to us & neither of us were pleased with the food quality. We both left unsatisfied. I guess we should’ve known from looking at the appy list hanging from the ceiling. When your #4 item in a “Japanese” restaurant is Vietnamese Spring Rolls, something just doesn’t add up.

    Hi, my name is Eric and I agree with this review! :)

  • Kevin says:

    Oh god…I went to Kisu River once on Kingsway near Joyce street, that was horrible. I’ve learnt to stay away from anything Kisu… bad stories all around from my friends.

  • vivian says:

    sorry to hear you had to sit through such a horrible experience! Just looking at that sashimi made me sick. I guess the saying “you get what you pay for” rings true here. Time for some Bella Geleteria to extinguish all that bad taste!lol

  • Mijune says:

    @vYona – thanks for the tip! I’ve heard lots about it, but i still haven’t been yet! I hear hit and miss about the one in burnaby! Love spicy tuna or salmon :)

    @Bow – you’re right I think… i had the same feelings. Oiy… I guess I can’t hit a home run each time :(

    @Linda – you are too sweet linda! i was really crossing my fingers and it was such a let down!! Your warning would have saved me some dollar for sure… boo.

    @Eric – you’re hilarious!!! wow! one day before me huh? I wish I wrote this one day befor you went then!! We both could have saved money… although it was cheap.. but more expensive b/c I had to eat somewhere after.

    @Kevin – except this one is KisO… but I do like Ki-Isu on Pacific! Ok Kisu River on Kingsway.. I shall steer away from.

    @vivian – lol viv!! No kidding!! I totally got what I paid for… and even more… I was hoping it might be a “bang for your buck” place… but it was just a bang.. and not a good one

  • LotusRapper says:

    [Gasp !] Yeah, if you had asked in advance, prolly many of us would have prevented you from going there ! :-)

    Sorry to hear about the bad experience. Yeah, Kiso Isld and Kisu Isld are related and likely part of a large Vietnamese chain (there’s another at Bdway/Willow, and Kingsway/Joyce, and maybe other locations with slightly different names). This one you went to used to be at Main/Bdwy before they burned down a couple years ago along with Slickity Jim’s, Lugz Coffee and Zocalo.

    First and last time we went to this one was only 2 months ago. My son, a pure tamago aficionado, said their egg tasted like “yucky sponge”. There you go …..

    Actually good sushi isn’t found this part of Mt. Pleasant. HIME on Bdwy just east of Main (across from Kingsgate Mall) is pretty good. Other than that you’ll have to go up to 21st to Zipang Sushi.

    PS: Ajisai in Kerrisdale is a real gem if you’ve never been. Watch for long lines, ‘tho. But even if you stand *outside* in the alley you can literally smell their fresh tuna. I swear it’s that good.

  • nicnic says:

    I go to school in that area, and I’m pretty sure its the same people who owned Kishu a block down where it got burned down and they reopened it here under Kiso Island. It was SO BAD there and apparently they reused their ginger or something. When Kiso Island I had a feeling it was the same owners.. so I never went. Sorry about your bad experience!

  • Joseph Wu says:

    Oh, Mijune. What did you expect? I’m sorry, but most Vietnamese operated sushi places absolutely suck. Even Samurai gave me food poisoning once, so I’ll never eat there again. There are a bunch of Kiso/Kishu places: Island, Ocean, etc. None of them are any good.

  • sushi can be one of the most common things to get sick from. but sometimes it’s not the fish but the mayonnaise if it’s not fresh. sounds like a place certainly to avoid.

  • Mijune says:

    @lotuswrapper – you just named two of my sushi places on my must try list!!! Hime and Ajisai are on my to-go this month!!! I can’t wait!! Been getting so many recommendations for them! Thank you!!! Yes next time I will avoid any of these Kiso Kisu places… that i think are related. you’re son likes tomago like me :)

    @nicnic – I think you’re right about it reopening under a different name. Oiy… I hope there are other options for sushi for you nearby! Thanks for your comment!

    @Joseph Wu – lol I was hoping for a hidden gem! Or bang for your buck surprise? lol ohhh boy I learned my lesson.. I hope.

    @Simon Food Favourites – ohhhh good point… ew bad mayo… I would think they’re just using the regular jarred stuff with tons of preservatives anyways though.

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Mijune – I heard from a friend whose brother is a sushi chef in California. Apparently something as simple as the egg on the tamago is harder to “perfect” than it looks.

    Ajisai is prolly one of the better-kept secrets in town. I just googled and found my own post about them in 2003(!), the Internet is amazing (sometimes scary):

    http://vaneats.com/features/saab.ken.ajisai

    HIME is good but fairly traditional as far as offerings go. If you want something more exotic (without Tojo prices), try also Tomoya on Nelson (around corner from Lao Shan Dong) and Kura on Kingsway. Just make sure you go to Kura for dinner to get the more interesting items (IIRC they fly fish in from Japan weekly):

    http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/181844/restaurant/Vancouver/Burnaby-South/Tomoya-Japanese-Burnaby

    http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/181027/restaurant/Vancouver/Burnaby-South/Kura-Japanese-Burnaby

  • Mijune says:

    @LotusRapper – Tomago is one of the hardest things to perfect I think! That’s why I always order it :) The best I’ve had is still at Aki.. let me know if your son likes it there :)

    Ohhh Kura sounds exciting… yes I checked out the HIME menu and oit looks basic with a focus on fusion rolls.. which I like a lot! The prices are realy good too… Tomoya sounds like something I would like too. Thanks!!!

  • Ed says:

    I try to avoid places like this that think Japanese food is all California rolls and teriyaki chicken. I guess it’s because so many people enjoy those things. You like what you like but I can’t take California rolls anymore.

  • Mijune says:

    @Ed – lol I don’t mind California rolls, but it’s definitely not the first item i’ll go for.. or a roll I care to really order. Maybe when I was in high school yes! My fav!

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