Sushi Yan Japanese Restaurant
770 Thurlow St
E: How is it possible than when we’re out of town, James can home in on good dining experiences? As infrequent as our visits are, I suspect his homing instinct of following the first pretty Asian lady he finds here is key. He scored great with saying let’s go to Aki, but I’m uncertain with Sushi Yan, It had the look of Sushi Plus back home, and while he loves cheap, it does not always mean quality.
J: If you want to eat on the cheap in Vancouver, you can’t do any worse than a Subway. But if a foot long sub from an international corporate franchise doesn’t appeal, then you have the choice of flying to New York for a taste of Carnegie Deli or try something completely different
Leaving the comfort of our hotel at the Marriott Pinnacle, our mission if we chose to accept it was to dine at Joe Fortes’ Seafood Restaurant. Upon arrival, the place was packed. Needless to say, we didn’t accept our mission. In fact, we almost lost our nerve and turned around to return back to our nice hotel (and maybe some eats in the Marriott’s restaurant). But while spinning into the opposite direction, I spotted an older building that housed a Japanese restaurant…in the basement. I was intrigued.
E: I’m sure James would have fainted at seeing the menu prices if we did enter Joe’s, so I’d be on my own anyways… but I would not leave my buddy in a lurch, and we hopped, skipped and jumped on over to the other side of the road to that quaint little cave known as Sushi Yan. I could have sworn we arrived in Japan when we were greeted at the door.
J: The customers were tended to by an elderly Japanese man who moved so fast and appeared so busy that I feared he would have a heart attack if Ed and I ordered our usual amount of food. The restaurant has been in this location for roughly 30 years. It looks as it sounds, in the same vein as Liverpool’s Cavern Club. There is nothing here that’ll wow you but what it does lack in flash it makes up for in character. I liked this place immediately. The menu is huge. I wonder how they could even manage this much food. They could trim it down some since it only served to confuse. But they have been here this long, perhaps it is best not to fix what isn’t broken. The question is, would they last 30 years in a hostile environment such as Victoria?
E: Other than The Old Spaghetti Factory, I can’t think of anyplace that has operated for that long… but we were not here to talk about history. Bring on the sushi!
J: The first mistake in the restaurant’s service was when Ed was given my miso soup. Ed didn’t question if it was mine and started to sup happily on the spoonful of broth. Ed offered the miso back to me but it was like your friend taking a bite out of a jelly doughnut, would you take it back?
The ramen noodle was basic but tasty. My ebi sunomono had a beautiful lemony taste in the vinaigrette that I have not discovered elsewhere. It would’ve been better if what was brought out was what I ordered, it was tako but ebi is what arrived.
E: Correction, I offered to buy a replacement bowl for James, but I guess the hunger got to me faster than expected. I had originally dreamt of AAA grade beef and a nice steak and potato dinner before James’ primal fear of being in an expensive restaurant (however packed it look) got to him. Was this mistake by the server divine justice for a bovine dish denied? What I ate instead felt like a C grade meal.
I really liked the tempura since it was light and not too flaky. The maki rolls and sushi, well, I’ve had better. But for what feels like a mom and pop style restaurant, I think this place has a similar cult following like Sushi Plus back home.
J: That would explain why I liked this place so much. The customers around us seemed to be having as good time and even a group of young people were repeat customers. I agree wholeheartedly with Ed on the tempura (no teeth marks by him were to be found on mine) but the best taste of the night was the west coast sushi. Although not enticing in appearance the cream cheese helped make this dish an angelic experience. Is that a halo above my head. Ed already proved he had horns. Now all I had to do was to make sure his pitchfork never touched my side of the food.
E: Who needs pitchforks when I have chopsticks? I’m sure I can chop-fu him anytime, anyplace, anywhere. At least I can say this place is better than Sushi Plus in some aspects. It’s more spacious, more rustic and more varied in its offerings. I enjoyed the variety that’s offered here. This place certainly prides itself on each dish’s presentation unlike what Plus does. The portions are right and the freshness can be tasted.
J: The food here is decent but it is the service that needs work. The place wasn’t busy at all, not even on the level of Joe Fortes’ but still they managed to get my order wrong. I’ll still return to this place perhaps when I’m back in Vancouver for Anime Revolution. It’s next month and I hope to make it back. The prices are cheap and that is one of it’s saving graces.
3½ out of 5