After a long day of travel, we arrived in Vancouver and walked to our favorite sushi place just around the corner from my grandparents' house. Unfortunately, the wait was over 45 minutes long - even at 9 o'clock (you usually have to line up at 5 to get a spot)! Urgency and the desire to visit with family trumped the benefits of waiting, so we wandered up Main Street to another Japanese restaurant which, upon first glance, promised some unconventional sushi rolls (and the option of brown rice, yet we couldnt stray from the traditional in that respect). The first thing we ordered was the Orga roll - one of the vegetarian specialties, this roll consisted purely of organic vegetables and came with a thick Meyer lemon dipping sauce.
Of course, the 22 oz. Kirin split between my dad and I preceded the initial sushi roll - much better than the Asahi we ordered partway through the meal, in my opinion. Yams, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and pumpkin are al high on my list of favorite foods, so of course I was excited to see a roll titled "I am Yam" - Yam tempura with fresh asparagus, topped with avocado and garnished with a black sesame dipping sauce. We also ordered the B.C. roll - all three of us love the crunch and smoky flavor of salmon skin, yet the texture of this particular skin left something to be desired.
We ordered something I had never eaten before, a delicacy my mom said she hadn't had since she was in Japan in her 20s - octopus balls. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but they were delicious. Besides octopus, the balls consist of a binding rice flour, and they come hot (fried, I believe), crunchy on the outside and soft and slightly chewy on the inside. A delicious reduction and mayonnaise provide topping and dipping sauce, respectively.
Next, we ordered a dish that none of us had ever heard of before - "pressed" sushi. It's rectangular rather than circular, and is nigiri-like in that it consists of sashimi and rice. Initially, it appeared that there was too much rice for the amount of mackerel on top, but the other strong flavors - ginger, green onion, kelp (supposedly - I didn't find any in my pieces) required the neutral background.
We ordered some other items - hamachi kama, which wasn't too good - and then ventured back to the rolls. We concluded dinner with the "black cactus" roll and the simple kampyo roll. True to the name, the former was coated in black sesame seeds, which added a unique flavor and texture. As well, cooked rather than raw tuna provided a variation on our standard orders. Kampyo is dried shavings of sweetened gourd, and I was attracted to this roll because I hadn't tried it before and I thought it might somehow be similar to a squash.
It tasted pickled, and wasn't particularly flavorful - for simple vegetarian rolls, I prefer ume shiso (pickled plum and plum leaves). Overall, we found the sushi didn't have any distinctive flavors. It's hard to compete with Ken and Hana sushi.