Restaurant: Take Sushi 竹壽司
Last Visited: April 21, 2012
Location: Burnaby, BC (Burnaby North)
Address: 4528 Hastings Street
Transit: EB Hastings St FS Willingdon Ave
Price Range: $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Chinese owned and operated
- Traditional/fusion rolls
- Hot menu
- Extensive menu
- Made upon order
- Accepts credit card
- Dine in/Take out
- Parking at rear
- Tues-Sat: 11:30am-10pm
- Sunday 12pm-9:30am
- Closed Mondays
**Recommendations: Tuna and Mango Salad, BBQ Salmon Belly, Take Roll
The event has kicked off… as of yesterday! It’s The 1st Annual Crave: Dine Out in Burnaby Heights from April 24-26. It’s only a 3 day event and today is already day 2! During the event participating restaurants will be offering $20 and $25 3 course set menus – see their menus here. On behalf of Burnaby Heights I decided to scope out the scene in advance! As I mentioned in my Chad Thai post (an impressive Thai restaurant I visited in the area last week), I prefer ordering a la carte and exploring menus, so that’s exactly what I did at Take Sushi.
I’m unfamiliar with the area, but driving down the Burnaby Heights strip I must have spotted at least fifty restaurants I wanted to try. That’s no surprise though. Any restaurant I haven’t tried is of interest to me no matter how how small or dated it looks. From the outside most of the restaurants in the area don’t look like much, but I bet there are plenty of hidden gems to be discovered. From Thai, Italian, Indian, Mexican and Japanese there are a good variety of independently owned ethnic restaurants.
I know Japanese restaurants are a dime a dozen in Metro Vancouver and sushi is pretty much considered part of the Vancouver diet. So out of the restaurants participating in Crave, why did I choose Japanese? Well I did a little foodie research and I wanted to visit a local favourite and this seems to be it. I was also reading all your comments on the Crave contest I ran and several of you wanted to try it, so I decided to take one for the team!
I took this picture near closing time, but otherwise it was a full house almost the whole dinner service. I sat at the bar which is my favourite spot in any restaurant. It’s where all the action happens and in this case it was where the “regulars” sat as well. I was very lucky to sit next to a couple of regulars who kindly guided me through the menu. I also took some advice from chef and owner Jason. This is how I usually I choose to navigate any menu.
It was obvious there were a lot of regulars and many were greeted by name. The locals feel passionately about this restaurant. They kept saying how they’ve tried the other Japanese restaurants in the area and they just don’t live up to the standards Take Sushi has set. I haven’t tried any other ones in the area so I can’t take their word for it, but just by observing what they were ordering, they were no rookies.
Personally, I found the food pretty good at Take Sushi, but I wouldn’t say it was “best in town”. It could be the “best” in the area, but “the best” anything is always trivial. Did I like it? For the most part yes. Would I come back? If I was in the area craving Japanese, yes. It was definitely one of those reliable neighbourhood sushi restaurants offering affordable Japanese that is better than your standard “all you can eat” place. It wasn’t about portion size or “cheap eats” and it’s good for no-fuss eaters.
The chef and staff are Chinese, but good food is good food regardless of who makes it. The chef has worked in a few Japanese restaurants in the city and he makes all his sauces in house. For a purist who is experienced in traditional Japanese cuisine, then it might not be your thing. But nonetheless the ingredients are fresh, the food made upon order, and it’s all quite well prepared. I would treat it as an everyday kind of place as to why it has a strong local following.
**Note: Dine at any of the restaurants participating in CRAVE and enter for your chance to win $50 to dine out in Burnaby Heights again!
On the table:
- This is one of the off the menu specialities that are available upon request to anyone. You learn from watching what the regulars order.
- The oysters were fresh, but the type was small and not meaty.
- It was heavily dressed with a sweet and very tangy citrus ponzu sauce.
- It was garnished with green onions and a thin lemon slice and there was a lot going on for a small oyster.
- It was pretty sour with lots of acidity and although very good, I kind of lost the oyster in the flavour burst.
- I would have preferred the vinaigrette on the side just because I found it overwhelmed the natural flavour of the oyster.
- This was a sweet and savoury hit. The ingredients weren’t hard to figure out, but it was all in the sauce.
- It was a chunky salad and a generous portion with an equal ratio of all ingredients.
- I’ve always been a fan of mango and tuna sashimi salads and this was one I really enjoyed.
- The creamy tuna, juicy mango and rich avocado mixed with the crunch of cucumber and sprinkle of sesame seeds were texturally satisfying.
- Everything was fresh and the Philippine mango was ripe and so was the avocado, but they held their shape.
- It was well dressed in a sweet and tangy dressing that was reminiscent to a sunomono vinaigrette.
- It was sweet and sour with a bit of spice in the end and it was quite an acidic dressing.
- I could almost taste some apple and onion puree in the sauce and I think it might have been Japanese salad dressing which has that sour and sweet balance.
- It reminded me of the Hawaiian Tuna Tower at Kiriri Japanese, but I actually liked this one better even though that one used red tuna.
- 3 pieces $4.25
- This was probably one of my favourites of the night and it was incredibly worth it.
- Salmon belly is one of the best parts of a salmon. That, and the neck and cheeks.
- The belly is really fatty so it’s hard to overcook although it happens.
- This one was cooked perfectly and the skin was crispy with nice looking grill marks producing that charred, but not burnt flavour.
- The boneless salmon belly was well marinated with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and the meat was cooked on the rare side.
- Every bite was bursting with natural salmon oils and juice.
- The flavour was simple, but the dish executed quite flawlessly.
- The recently closed Aki Japanese and Zakkushi Charcoal Grill are my preferences so far for robata, but this was impressive.
- 1/2 order Hamachi (Yellowtail Tuna) $8.95 1/2 order Toro (tuna belly) $7.95
- The hamachi was the most exotic sashimi offering on the menu, but he also had some fresh uni (sea urchin) that was available off the menu.
- It wasn’t premium hamachi quality, but it was still very fresh and pretty good. It was cut quite well although it might have oxidized a bit just based on colour.
- One of the most memorable hamachi I’ve had is probably at Tokachi or Octopus Garden, but the latter is in a more upscale dining context.
- The toro (tuna belly) was cut untraditionally in rectangular blocks so it didn’t showcase the flavour as well.
- The toro was still fresh though and the flavour was pretty good with a nice oil content, but it wasn’t really a stand out.
- The best kind are the ones that almost melt in your mouth like cream.
- Tuna belly is naturally very oily and the quality can vary depending on the fish that day.
- The supplier for the sashimi was decent and better than average.
- $2.25 each
- This was beautiful. The cut of the nigiri, the colour of the tuna, and the light sear on the outside was just something to stare at for a while… and that I did!
- It would have been great if it was ahi tuna, but for the price I didn’t quite expect it, although it’s still pricey for what it was.
- It was topped with grated radish and green onion and a spoonful of ponzu sauce and perhaps some mirin for sweetness.
- The whole thing was really juicy and citrusy from perhaps some lemon juice added to the ponzu.
- There may have been a little pickled ginger in the grated radish as well, but it was very subtle and faint.
- The rice was shaped with a hump so technique wise it’s not “traditional”, but it’s not that type of restaurant so I won’t be so picky.
- Other great Tuna Tataki’s are at Taka’s Take-Out Sushi and Suika.
- Unagi (eel) tempura, smoked salmon, avocado, lemon and house sauce $9.50
- This is the signature roll and it’s one of the popular favourites.
- Although I thought it tasted good, I found it on the pricey side and the ingredients were shy to justify it.
- The pieces were bite sized which is how Japanese food is meant to be, but I could barely taste the unagi (eel) and smoked salmon so I did miss those.
- There was a house dressing that tasted like a thinned out sweet Teriyaki sauce, so it was a roll that didn’t require additional soy sauce.
- The combination of ingredients worked well though and I loved the thin slice of lemon with the peel on top. I have’t seen anyone else do that before.
- The lemon just brought an aromatic quality to the roll and it wasn’t bitter or distracting, but it came at the end. It wasn’t too sour and easy to chew since it was so thin.
- I think the lemon was intended to contrast the fishier flavours of the eel and salmon, but since I couldn’t really taste either I just enjoyed it for what it was.
- It was quite creamy with the avocado and mayo, but the crunch of the tempura was there, although I wish less batter and more eel.
- I couldn’t tell how flavoured the rice was because the sauce just kind of mixed into it since it was already drizzled on top.
- Prawn tempura, avocado, mayo, smoked salmon and mango with sweet sauce $9.75
- This was another one of their popular rolls and it was another creative fusion roll.
- There was a sweet sauce drizzled on top so this one didn’t require additional soy sauce either.
- It was a very light, fresh, fragrant and mildly sweet roll.
- It was a very well made roll and good in size, but again I couldn’t taste the smoked salmon and it was sliced too thin.
- I liked the crunchy prawn contrast with the creamy avocado and the sweetness of the ripe Philippine mango and sauce, but I still don’t find the ingredients justified the price.
- I think it would be great if those prawns were breaded with coconut flakes. Then I could justify it being $9.75 because it would be a bit more unique.
- It was a good roll, but it was lacking and needed a bit more to it.
- For a $10 roll I do expect some sashimi and I would have preferred just another order of Tuna and Mango salad.
- The special sauce on top was clear, but it tasted sweet with sugar and then there was some lemon and vinegar to give it acidity.
- The roll was good, but it just wasn’t that unique on the larger scale of “fusion rolls”. However, it may be original to the other rolls offered at Japanese restaurants in the area.
- Again I couldn’t tell how flavoured the rice was because the sauce just kind of mixed into it since it was already drizzled on top.
- Chicken and beaten egg on rice $7.25
- This was the only disappointment and normally I wouldn’t really order it, but I needed something filling.
- This is considered homestyle comfort food, but this wasn’t a great version of the dish. It was priced very well though.
- It’s pretty much boneless and skinless chicken thighs, eggs and onions cooked in a sweet and savoury dashi broth or Japanese seafood stock.
- The dashi broth should have mirin, soy sauce and sugar so the sauce is sweet and savoury, but I actually don’t think this one had much dashi and I couldn’t taste it.
- It was on the bland side, but I did like the addition of some button mushrooms.
- The egg was slightly overcooked and not as spongy, but there was a generous amount of chicken.
- The onions were sweet, but overall I found the whole thing on the dry side.
- It was more Chinese in style than Japanese and the egg wasn’t fluffy or juicy.
- There was a lot of rice, but the rice wasn’t flavoured and it was just plain rice.
- It was hard to finish because I wanted more sauce and broth to absorb into the rice.
- I wouldn’t say the hot dishes aren’t good here because the salmon belly was great, but I wouldn’t order the donburi bowls based on this.
Spicy Sauce – I had to try this because the regulars beside me kept raving about it. It’s very thick and made in house and I actually enjoyed my Oyakodon much more with it. I could eat this hot sauce plain though. It was basically Korean Gochujang paste mixed with a couple other sauces. Gochujang is a Korean fermented chili bean paste and it’s one of the best hot sauces you’ll run into. It’s very pungent, sweet initially and also savoury and then the spicy kick comes at the end and lingers, but doesn’t burn. This is the same sauce used on their spicy tuna or spicy salmon rolls and sashimi. In Vancouver a lot of Japanese restaurants use Gochujang to make their spicy sauce and it really does wonders. It’s addicting.