July 21, 2012
Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant – 仁和日本料理, Richmond BC
Miso Soup (面豉汤)
Ebi Sunomono (虾沙律)
Unagi Fried Rice (烧鳗炒饭)
Bc Roll (卑斯卷)
Tomokazu Spicy Roll (友和香辣卷)
Vegetable Roll (什菜卷)
Futo Maki (太卷)
Yam Tempura Roll (蕃薯卷)
Dynamite Roll (炸虾卷)
California Roll (加州卷)
Salmon Maki (三文鱼卷)
Alaska Roll (亚拉斯加卷)
Tuna Sushi (吞拿鱼寿司)
Salmon Sushi (三文鱼寿司)
Massago Sushi (多春鱼子寿司)
Tamago Sushi (甜蛋寿司)
Inari Sushi (腐皮寿司)
Agedashi Tofu (炸豆腐)
Chicken Teriyaki (铁板鸡肉)
Beef Teriyaki (铁板牛肉)
Yaki Soba (炒面)
Yam Tempura (蕃薯天妇罗)
Vegetable Tempura (什菜天妇罗)
Chopped Scallop Cone (碎带子手卷)
Spicy Tuna Cone (辣吞拿鱼手卷)
Wakame Cone (海藻沙律手卷)
Seafood Motoyaki (日式焗海鲜)
Portuguese Seafood Motoyaki (葡汁焗海鲜)
Vegetable Samosa (炸咖喱角)
Plain Udon (淨呜冬)
Zaru Soba (冷面)
Silly me forgot to blog about Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant back in December. Well, back then, I was just not as serious about documenting all my lovely adventures with stuff that ends up in my stomach. This is probably my fourth time eating here for All You Can Eat, otherwise known as AYCE. I have not had much Japanese food, so many of the dishes I cannot judge since I have nothing to compare to. This is one of the better ones in Richmond according to reviews and friends’ opinions though. For $10.95, their lunch options are certainly plentiful – after all, I tried a total of 34 items! Even if not all the items are that great – some were downright disappointing – considering both price and quality, Ninkazu makes for a great hangout place to catch up with friends.
As with any complete Japanese meal, I started with a bowl of hot Miso Soup (面豉汤). It came with a few pieces of seaweed and mini cubes of tofu. The miso paste was certainly plentiful as the soup was quite salty. I do not like watered down miso soup, but this was too salty for my palate.
Another common appetizer is the Goma-Ae (麻酱菠菜), which is boiled spinach with sesame sauce. I like boiled spinach, even if it plain. The sesame sauce was rather sweet, so I am not sure how much of it is actually traditional sesame sauce. However, loving sweet more than savoury, I loved the dish. The sesame seeds on top were merely for decoration, but give me a huge bowl of this stuff and it will disappear within a minute – this version anyways!
The Ebi Sunomono (虾沙律) is another mini appetizer dish of Japanese vermicelli noodles in a vinegar soup base with a slice of cucumber, lemon, and a small shrimp. It was sour enough, with a slight hint of sweetness and the tang of the lemon. The shrimp was so small and the cucumber seemed like décor. The dish was so small it disappeared in two bites. It served as a nice palate cleanser and was quite refreshing.
The Unagi Fried Rice (烧鳗炒饭) was one of the most disappointing dishes of the meal. It was a small bowl of soy sauce fried rice with a little corn and maybe two pea-sized pieces of unagi or BBQ eel. Even the soy sauce tasted bland. The rice was hard and the corn to me seemed out of place. They could have perhaps added just a little more unagi in there. I have had this during previous visits and they were not as stingy with the ingredients back then. It used to be bad enough, and now it is just worse.
The Gyoza (煎饺子) was actually decent, filled with pork and vegetables. It is hard to screw this up, and the sweet soy sauce it came with was certainly to my liking. They were nicely pan-fried with some crispiness on the bottom. The skin wrapping was still chewy and not overdone. The pork filling was nicely flavoured and not too fatty or oily. It was nothing outstanding, but it was still a nice bite.
Now onto the wide array of rolls, which, even only eating one of each is incredibly filling. The first roll I ate was the Bc Roll (卑斯卷), which includes BBQ salmon skin and a little bit of cucumber. There was some BBQ sauce on top of the roll, which I really appreciated. I loved the BBQ sauce, as it was sweet and flavourful. The salmon belly was chewy but slightly crunchy, with a lot of BBQ flavour. Unfortunately, I did not get a clear picture. However, this was perhaps my favourite roll of the entire meal, just because the sauce was delicious.
Next, the Tomokazu Spicy Roll (友和香辣卷) was not very spicy, although there was a little heat. I was not sure what it actually was, since I was too busy chatting. It seems to be imitation crab tempura with some spicy sauce, tobiko, and cucumbers. It was rather dry and lacked flavour, even though there was a little spicy. It would have been nicer to have the spicy sauce drizzled over the roll.
The Vegetable Roll (什菜卷) is extremely bland that even though it was avocado, carrots, and cucumbers, I had to resort to soy sauce and wasabi for flavouring. There was no sauce, whatsoever, just the plain vegetables wrapped in nori and rice. Even the rice in general was not very flavourful. Actually, all of the rolls and sushi had slightly hard and bland rice. It did not have a much vinegar taste and was slightly hardened, which seemed like it was refrigerated before it was served. The amount of avocado was good in the roll but vegetables with no other flavour are just not tasty at all.
The Futo Maki (太卷) was actually not too bad. Inside were tamago, imitation crab, marinated shiitake mushrooms, pickles plum, and cucumber. I loved how most of the ingredients were sweet. The tamago and imitation crab were ordinary but good. I loved the sweet and sour plum. The mushrooms were marinated in sweetened soy sauce, and so were also sweet and chewy. The cucumber gave it a refreshing crunch. This was certainly one of the better rolls with the ingredients working out well together. However, it would have been nice to have some sauce to tie the flavours together, but at least the different levels of sweetness blended.
The Yam Tempura Roll (蕃薯卷) was quite boring. The tempura was kind of soaked and quite oily. Again, there was no sauce so I had to resort to the soy sauce and wasabi. I think it would be better to have the dipping sauce normally for tempuras to be served with this roll. I would rather eat the tempura by itself rather than with some extra rice surrounding it, making it more bland, and becoming a soggy mess.
The Dynamite Roll (炸虾卷) was not much better. The ebi or shrimp tempura was quite soggy, without any crunch whatsoever. However, I could still taste the oil, which made it not good. It also included lettuce, cucumber, avocado, and a little bit of tobiko. They need to have more tobiko inside, as there was barely any for me to taste it. The cucumbers did give it a little extra crunch, but again, it was bland without any sauce. By that point, I was tired to dipping my rolls into soy sauce and wasabi when there was no sashimi inside.
The California Roll (加州卷) was actually not bad. I like imitation crab and although it was just mediocre, it at least had the slight sweetness of the imitation crab. There was quite a lot of it, along with some cucumber and avocado to give it additional crunch as well as creaminess. Since the ingredients were not anything too pricey, they did not skimp on it too much and tasted decent. Of course, it was nothing special, but it was not horrible either.
The Salmon Maki (三文鱼卷) was simple and small. There was an average amount of salmon inside, but it was in mini, thin pieces, clearly the sides from sashimi. The salmon was also incredibly chewy and even slightly hard, which made me wonder where the fish came from and how fresh it was. It certainly was not good quality salmon and one piece was more than enough.
The last roll, the Alaska Roll (亚拉斯加卷), was basically the same California Roll as before with a very thin slice of salmon, lettuce, and some tobiko on top. It was certainly prettier than the California Roll and slightly more complex with all the ingredients. However, the salmon was again chewy and slightly hard, clearly not fresh. I do not find that lettuce adds much in the way of taste or texture, but the tobiko was appreciated.
Next came the sushi. First, the Tuna Sushi (吞拿鱼寿司) was not very good. The tuna was extremely mushy, more than it should be, I believe. It was not the freshest fish, although it was not too stale either. The rice is especially important in sushi, and this was not very flavourful. It was more like white rice rather than sushi rice made with some vinegar.
The Salmon Sushi (三文鱼寿司) was better. I love salmon sashimi so much that anything with salmon that is decently fresh is good, but this was still kind of disappointing. The salmon was certainly not the freshest, though, because it was kind of warm and soft. It did not have much of the springiness that high quality salmon sashimi has.
The Massago Sushi (多春鱼子寿司) was actually surprisingly enjoyable. I loved the slightly sweet and crunchy smelt roe. It was bright orange and so pretty. The texture was wonderful as were the taste. I just wish the rice was more flavourful, but the massago was definitely not bad.
I actually really enjoyed the Tamago Sushi (甜蛋寿司). I love sweet foods, and this sweetened egg was just lovely. I could see the layers but it did not come apart and the texture was quite soft. It was tender and had a nice bounce to it. I loved just eating the tamago by itself. Although I have not had this much, and cannot really compare the quality of it with those from other restaurants, the texture and sweetness level was perfect for my taste.
The Inari Sushi (腐皮寿司) was also sweet due to the inari, or bean curd skin soaked in sweet soy sauce. This actually made the rice taste better, as the sweet soy sauce kind of soaked into the rice. It was chewy and tender but not too hard. With all my sushi, I wish there were less rice, but at least this one was nicely flavoured, thanks to the inari!
My favourite dish of the entire meal was the Agedashi Tofu (炸豆腐). It was served piping hot so the outside batter was crunchy, hot, and just soaking up the sweet soy sauce. It was just becoming soggy, which made the texture partly soft and partly crunchy. The tofu inside was very soft but slightly overdone. However, the flavour was soaked up nicely by the very recently fried tofu, which is why I actually liked the dish.
The Chicken Teriyaki (铁板鸡肉) was actually quite lovely. The chicken was tender, although I would have liked some extra crunchiness on the outside with the skin. At least the meat was not dry and overdone. The meat was covered in plenty of flavourful teriyaki sauce, perfectly sweet and tasty.
The Beef Teriyaki (铁板牛肉) was even better. The meat was thinly sliced, with some fatty parts in it, like the thinly sliced steak. Since it was so thin, the amount of sauce on it was quite a lot, making it very flavourful. In addition, I loved the mushrooms and onions in the dish. I just wish there was more of the vegetables as they soak up the flavour quite nicely.
The Tonkatsu (炸猪扒) was extremely over-fried. It was dark and too hard and crunchy. The meat was very dry and there was barely any after it has been fried for so long. It was dripping oil and bland, tasting only of the oil. The sauce was not able to make up for the over-frying, and more sauce would have been nice. It was neither pleasing to the eye or the palate.
The Yaki Soba (炒面) was also incredibly disappointing. The soy sauce, which should have given it a nice and simple flavour, was very bland. The noodles were not mushy or overcooked, but the dish was just bland and bland noodles just do not cut it for me. Vegetables were scarce. Actually, it was just carrots and noodles. It was also barely warm, which made the taste even more faint.
The Yam Tempura (蕃薯天妇罗) was dripping with oil somewhat. It was crunchy, at least, which gave it a good contrasting texture with the soft and mushy yam inside. The yam was lightly sweetened, which was good, but I found the oil to be extremely overwhelming.
The Vegetable Tempura (什菜天妇罗) included carrot tempura and zucchini tempura. The carrot tempura was quite pretty and had the aroma of sweet carrots. The zucchini was nice and mushy. However, both were very oily. Even though it was served right after coming out of the fryer, I did not like the overly greasy batter. It was just too much for my palate, despite the fact that the vegetables inside were actually decent.
The Chopped Scallop Cone (碎带子手卷) marked my first time eating chopped scallops. I actually quite enjoyed the extremely bouncy and tender scallops enrobed in a mayonnaise sauce. The addition of tobiko was nice. However, a cone for me just has too much rice and I would much rather prefer just to eat the scallops by themselves.
The Spicy Tuna Cone (辣吞拿鱼手卷) was extremely bad. Not only was there so much rice to begin with, the tuna was too dry. I know it was marinated, but it should still be moist. It was halfway between sashimi and dried fish strips. The spice came from the sauce it was marinated in that had mostly dried up. It was just simply spicy without any other flavour.
The Wakame Cone (海藻沙律手卷) was actually decent, as the wakame was sweet and chewy. The texture was good, although I do not like it in a cone. The flavour was good but with so much rice that is not flavourful, the cone just becomes quite bland. They could have put more seaweed into the cone to give it more flavour. It is not like the seaweed is a particularly expensive ingredient.
My friend loves the Seafood Motoyaki (日式焗海鮮), so I had to try it. It was actually great, with an assortment of seafood and corn under the baked and creamy mayonnaise layer. I agree with her that the mayonnaise on top would become too overwhelming and if I ate too much, would make me feel sick. However, it was slightly sweet and very rich. In moderation, it was quite good. The salmon and corn underneath were great as well.
The Portuguese Seafood Motoyaki (葡汁焗海鮮) had a curry topping instead of mayonnaise. It was certainly not as rich and it also did not taste as good. The curry was quite bland and did not mix well with the seafood and corn underneath. However, I am less likely to get sick with this because it was not as rich as the mayonnaise.
The Vegetable Samosa (炸咖喱角) was actually decent. Although it was slightly oilier than I would like, the pastry dough was crunchy. It was a little dark for my liking, but the sauce made it taste good, as it was sweet and lovely. It was like a lighter teriyaki sauce and I liked it quite a lot. The filling was kind of mushy but had a nice hint of curry and spices. The sauce actually blended well with the filling and in general, the dish somewhat satisfied my taste buds.
The Plain Udon (淨乌冬) is simply just that: udon with carrot strips in a noodle broth. At least there was a little flavour in the broth. The udon could have been tenderer but it was not exactly overcooked either.
The Zaru Soba (冷面) was also a huge disappointment. The noodle dishes throughout just did not cut it for me. It was very bland on top, as the sweet soy sauce was all at the bottom of the plate. There was not much of it to begin with and the top strands became dry. It was not overdone but just plain bland.
Now that was a long list of dishes. It took very long to eat as well. The food overall was quite average. Nothing really stood out much, besides that one bite into a piping hot and flavourful Agedashi Tofu. Otherwise, I was not impressed with the food. Like many AYCE places, they are quite slow to bring the food. However, we did not have any problems with the service and the ambiance was casual and relaxing. I certainly got the chance to catch up with friends over a cheap but still decent and acceptable Japanese lunch.