The Kamei Royale is a restaurant that certainly lives up to its namesake, but is it authentic? When there are three locations, I get the sense the upper management wants to franchise out. But in a city as large as Vancouver, to spread the sushi love does need to be done. And this establishment has the decor of upscale dining.
The fashion sense of the architecture is more modernistic than traditional, and the average working man would have to give up two paychecks to dine here for a week. The food is tasty, and just looking at the menu was enough to make me drool buckets. The selection of food is vast and I doubt I could eat the entire maki selection in one go.
This restaurant is by no means cheap. A $60 meal was more than enough to fill me and on average, I spend around $35 when going Japanese.
For appy’s, I had to try their variety of raw oysters. Of the three varieties, the last pairing was the most crisp and delicate of the types I tasted. Sadly, without little tags or the waitress telling me which oyster came from where, I’d need a guide to help me identify all the varieties so I can know what is what.
I can only guess that the oyster I found most favourite was the Royal Miyagi, an oyster that’s found locally off the shores of Vancouver Island conveniently enough. It’s melon like taste is what stood out for me.
As for the next delight, I finally got to try thunder fries. These thick cut slices of sweet potato are good but they were more like a modern take of a basic favourite. The light tempura style batter certainly gave the pieces oomph but there wasn’t really much spice to make it stand out. And the fries really relied on the tart sauce to make it roar like a lion. Without it, it was mewing at me like a kitten.
I expected more when considering this food’s name. I didn’t think these fries truly sizzled. Susanoo, the god of seas and storms, would be mad and Thor would be laughing.
When the sushi arrived, at least the variety of flavours were amped up. I had the scallop tobiko roll made with imperial rice and that alone was like a rite of passage for rice connoisseurs like me. It had the hallmarks of true decadence.
The monk fish liver (Ankimo) is considered to be “the black truffle of sushi cuisine” and I was glad I ordered it. It had a gentle lobster like flavour and it was very creamy, like that of a pâté. While I know that this delicacy does require processing before it can be served, I have to wonder what eating this liver fresh would be like? I know geoduck can be served like that, but that clam has to be harvested super fast and gently cooked so it’s rich taste can be savoured.
In the nigiri dish I had, the matsu, I thought the geoduck was probably getting old. It was tougher than usual and the freshness of the fish varied from off the sea to a day old. I found the sweet shrimp the best of the lot, the tamago fitting for a king (they were the big eggs), and the water eel satisfying. The traditional lot of fish didn’t really stand out.
This trendy restaurant is worth returning to for the miso chowder. The tastes Kamei offers is certainly worthy for folks interested in challenging their taste buds. The variety feels more like fusion cuisine than traditional, but when the menu says it regularly brings in special catches of the day, I’m hooked!
3½ Blokes out of 5