Restaurant: Charcoal Sushi & BBQ Restaurant
Last visited: June 8, 2012
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: Unit 250-7997 Westminster Highway
Transit: Brighouse Station Southbound
Price Range: $10-20 for lunch, $20-30 for dinner
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Chinese owned/operated
- Maybe some Japanese chefs?
- Extensive menu
- Nice presentation
- Creative fusion rolls
- Busy at lunch
- Moderately priced
- $8.95 lunch specials
- 10% off all take out
- Reservations accepted
- Free parking
- Sun-Thurs 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-10pm
- Fri-Sat 11:30am-3pm, 5-11pm
**Recommendations: Sashimi wrap, Deep fried soft shell crab, Big Roller roll, Lotus Roll, Golden Roll
I haven’t been here in over a year and half, but it doesn’t seem like anything has changed. I had a pretty good experience the first time I came minus some service issues (see here), and this time was the same. It’s a Chinese owned and operated Japanese restaurant, but that doesn’t bother me as long as the food is good. Although it might not be the first to come to mind when I want to satisfy a Japanese craving in Richmond, the food is decent and enjoyable. In Richmond usually I prefer Ichiro, Kiriri, Tokyo Joe’s Sushi Factory or Seto Sushi, but for creative rolls then it’s either here, Mega Sushi or Koto Izakaya Sushi & Robata.
The room is clean and comfortable and they play some Top 40’s from 2004-2010 so I take it the owner is rather young and I would consider the ambiance “hip”. I would probably come here more often, but the service the first time I came has left a permanent memory. It’s not that it was really bad or anything, but it just seemed less inviting than I expected. On this occasion I was the last table to be seated before closing so I was happy to have been seated at all, and they didn’t rush too much.
The food was again pretty good, but just on the pricey side for Richmond standards, however they do have reasonably priced lunch specials. Most of the rolls are drizzled with the same 2 sauces so it’s not as innovative as it could be, but everything is presented quite well, fresh and made upon order.
There is a regular menu and then a “special” menu with photos. Make sure you ask for both or you don’t get the secret menu. Things like this is kind of what bothers me. I didn’t get offered the “special” menu this time either and it’s not something they only offer for dinner too. The items on the special menu are a lot more interesting and creative if you’re looking for more “Japanese fusion” like items.
On the table:
- I’m not sure when they started serving complimentary miso soup, but it was a nice gesture. Tokyo Joe’s Sushi Factory does the same thing.
- I’m pretty sure it was instant miso soup instead of the house made kind with a good dashi stock (Japanese seafood stock), but it was still appreciated.
- Fresh spinach with creamy sesame sauce $3.95
- The presentation was nicer than last time! I love gomaae and usually order it.
- Unlike most gomaae the sauce was served separately and not mixed in with the spinach.
- The spinach was a bit overcooked and soft though so it lost a bit of crunch.
- The sauce was very creamy and rich like a thick paste and despite it not being authentic, I personally like very saucy gomaae.
- It was sweet, savoury and nutty and I wish it was made with freshly ground sesame seeds, but it was still good.
- I think they mix some Hoisin sauce with the sesame sauce and that’s what gives it the sweetness.
- 4 pcs $5.25
- I wasn’t keen on the quality of sashimi for the price.
- It was cut well and not too thick or thin, served chilled and fresh, but also very standard. For this restaurant I would expect a bit higher quality.
- Personally in Richmond I prefer Ichiro, Kiriri, and Hachi Sushi for sashimi. I also really like the tuna sashimi at Tokyo Joe’s Sushi Factory.
- Deep-fried spicy salmon topped with scallop, tobiko & coconut powder $8.75
- The presentation was quite nice, but the roll was a bit bland and needed soy sauce and wasabi.
- The coconut was very faint and it was just a bit of unsweetened dried ground coconut sprinkled on top.
- I could have used more coconut flavour with the help of maybe a coconut sauce.
- It wasn’t that sweet because I couldn’t taste much coconut and it wasn’t spicy either.
- The salmon was quite apparent, but a bit on the dry side and not crunchy for being deep fried.
- I could taste the salmon most, but not much of the avocado.
- The scallop was nice and creamy, but I just wanted more texture in the roll.
- The rice was a bit on the dry side, but it was well flavoured and the seaweed wasn’t chewy.
- Prawn tempura & fresh mango topped with spicy tuna & sliced avocado $9.75
- I love rolls with mango, but I couldn’t taste much mango in this and I could have used either more fresh mango or a mango sauce to enhance the flavour.
- The prawn tempura was crunchy so there was good texture and I could taste the creamy avocado, but the spicy tuna got lost.
- The roll had enough flavour to not require soy sauce and wasabi.
- It was drizzled with a spicy chili mayo and a sweet Terriyaki like sauce which goes on a lot of their rolls.
- It was sweet, salty and a bit spicy and it was a flavourful roll, but not particularly memorable if you’ve had your fair share of creative sushi rolls.
- Again, the rice was a bit on the dry side, but it was well flavoured and the seaweed wasn’t chewy.
Here are some dishes from my first visit back in October 2010 – see full post here.
Items may or may not have changed since then.
**Sashimi Wrap – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
- This was from the “secret menu”.
- It was chopped tuna, salmon and scallop tartar with some mayo and then topped with caviar and a quail’s egg. It was served with seaweed so you eat it like a seaweed wrap.
- You mix it all up before you eat it.
- It was creamy and crunchy from the caviar and the caviar isn’t that salty.
- I would have preferred some scallions in the sashimi mix as well and some stronger sauces because I couldn’t taste the dollops of sauce plated around it.
- Gyoza King does a Salmon Avocado Yukke version – see here, and Guu Japanese Izakaya does one too – see here.
- Deep-fried crab and avocado $5.95
- I saw the photo and I thought it was takoyaki at first, but then I read the description.
- They were really creamy golf-ball sized avocado balls with some imitation crab mixed in.
- They were over fried so they had a really crunchy batter.
- It has a pretty fishy taste especially with the dried and smoked bonito (fish) flakes on top.
- I found them pricey and they didn’t really do anything for me.
**Lotus Roll – 4/6 (Very good)
- Chopped scallop, imitation crab and avocado topped with tobiko, wrapped in cucumber 5 pieces $5.95 or 10 pieces for $10.99
- I really enjoyed this. It was a riceless sushi and it comes across as a salad when eaten in one bite.
- It was fresh, light, healthy, crunchy and creamy with lots of flavours and textures.
- It was good alone or with soy sauce.
**Golden Roll – 4/6 (Very good)
- Deep-fried California Roll with Chef’s special sauce $5.75
- I’ve had this before and it didn’t sound too special, but it came recommended and the picture looked nice.
- It was actually very well done for what it was.
- It was very lightly battered and fried and the ratio of ingredients was good.
- It was crispy and crunchy and it didn’t need any sauce.
- It has some Japanese mayo and sweet Teriyaki like sauce on top.
**Big Roller – 5/6 (Excellent)
- Chopped scallop & cucumber topped with eel and sliced avocado $9.75
- The presentation was gorgeous and the size was good enough for one big bite.
- It was a very creamy and sweet roll with a slight fishy taste from the eel.
- It was quite rich and loaded with ingredients and it was topped with a sweet and tangy Thousand Island like dressing and a sweet unagi sauce that tastes like Teriyaki sauce.
- It was quite soft with lots of sauce and there was also a slight crispiness from the eel skin which was great.
The Sakura – 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
- This was a new roll that wasn’t on the official menu yet. It’s $13.95 and I found it overpriced and not worth it.
- This is the last roll he recommended that was also most expensive given the sashimi.
- It was asparagus and wild salmon topped with avocado, Yellowtail sashimi, grated ginger and tobiko.
- This was a fresh sashimi sushi roll and it was nice pieces of sashimi, but it still didn’t justify the cost really.
- The ginger was very apparent and it gave it slight spiciness too.
- This one needed soy sauce and wasabi or it came across as bland and dry.
- I found it okay, but I’ve had better $13 fusion specialty rolls before.
**Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab – 5/6 (Excellent)
- They do a great job with this. It was pretty big and served with a very tangy soy sauce that was almost like ponzu sauce.
- The soft shell crab was delicious and perfectly fried and still juicy.
- The batter was light and crispy and seasoned with a savoury and spicy Japanese chili pepper seasoning.
- It was creamy, soft, yet crispy, savory, tangy and spicy with a simple salad to lighten it all up.
wow super props for the creative stuff.. i’m totally digging the the sashimi wrap… who doesn’t love raw yolks? 🙂 i’m really glad they put the sauce for the gomae on the side and not mixed in with the spinach.. sometimes i find that it gets too soggy lol… mmm that soft shell crab looks delish!
Tomoya on Nelson and Kingsway makes a dish similar to the Sashimi Wrap but they call it Black Sun. It’s definitely a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with some amazing deals, especially their lunch combinations!
@D – thank you for the recommendation D!