Sen Zushi needs to be a restaurant I should frequent more often. Not only do they have a decent seasonal menu, but also they have one of the better tasting experiences in town. I was here over a year ago, but with Victoria having more Japanese eateries every few blocks, to decide which place I want to return to on a regular basis is tough.
With Sen offering decently grilled takoyaki (grilled octopus in batter), I’m sold. Try as I might, Fujiya’s attempt at them is terrible. They’re prepared too far in advance. If this store is smart, they should have a little corner set aside so they can be prepared fresh and on the go, like the very first time I encountered these delights—at a kiosk while waiting for a subtrain in Tokyo.
When buying at Sen, they’re prepared to a warm gooeyness that isn’t hot to the bite. Unlike what I had at Ajijiman, they’re not searing from straight off the grill. If I am to nitpick, I’d say not enough octopus was used.
Another appetizer was their sunomono salad. I really can’t say this meal fits anywhere on the radar, since I’ve yet to find a place to offer more than the basics. The rice noodles are subpar, and the shrimp, wakame and cucumber—like the takoyaki—were not aplenty. I didn’t even see octopus sunomono in the menu. In the salad, there should be enough extra greens and product to balance itself out with the noodles. This offering really needs more attention if it is to stand out, like the sushi I had.
I wanted to sample as much of the winter menu as possible. I loved their Tsubu Gai Isobe ($5.95). What I ate was essentially snail, even though the menu listed it as Whelk Clam. The meat was very chewy and the deep fried batter was prepared salt and pepper style. I’d have to say that was the highlight of the three that I tried.
But I also had my maki staples. I had the Sunset Roll ($10.95), which is made of salmon, avocado, crab, cucumber and flying fish roe. This roll had plenty of roe to it, and I loved the crunchiness. It made the softer components, like the avocado, stand out. Although I was suspicious of the smoked salmon that topped it—one of the pieces was off-colour—I dismissed it as a result of how the salmon was smoked. The one piece did not taste any different than the other.
But perhaps the tastiest roll I had was the Negi Hama (Yellowtail; $5.75). It was like the fish was quickly dunked with beer, and it tasted very good. I also had the Zarigani (Cray Fish; $4.95) and if given the choice, it’s crawfish all the way. I missed tasting these delights since the summer spent in Portland more than a year ago.
At Sen, the sushi chefs certainly put more attention at how much rice should be used in the makis. They’re one of the few restaurants that always get the ratio of rice to fish right. I could have had two more rolls but had to stop. My taste buds were on sensory overload and it was time to soak in the sun, before the cloudy weather returned to Victoria again.
3½ Blokes out of 5