ES: I wish the Izakaya in Trounce Alley stayed longer. Actually known as So-Ya, they had a classy environment to fashion some trendy and nouveau Japanese style food. People can read our review here and I truly miss them. Park’s Kitchen replaces this operation. They had a soft opening and not many people noticed.
I have to wonder if the servers even have an eye for what’s good here. When James and I had our empty glasses of water just sitting on the table, no one bothered to glance to see if we needed a refill. I saw where the decanters were and had to help myself.
JS: Although the shell of So-Ya remains, the spirit within had long since passed on. What has replaced it is not very impressive. I was willing to be pleased but Park’s rarely shined when it came to either customer service, the kitchen staff or their lunch specials.
But I’m going to give a bad sounding critique and the reason is the not-so-good outweighed what was best about this place. But to start, their sunomono salad was very creative if not refreshing.
The lettuce threw me off but the carrots were most welcome. The vinaigrette was sweet and cool. I have to say I finally found a sunomono that may have beaten Sushi Plus. But perhaps to put something else to replace the lettuce will improve on this creation.
ES: May have? Yes, the veggies were crisp, but I was disappointed with the tako slices. They were too thinly sliced. Mind you, it was cooked perfectly and soft; but I can find other operations that serve heartier.
I must note that for my buddy to use Sushi Plus as a benchmark to compare other establishment’s food must mean he has set for himself a low bar to define quality.
JS: Park’s made a great Japanese gyudon, it was sweet and the scent of onions would make your mouth water, the Korean dolsot, on the other hand, was lifeless and had little taste to get excited about. It smelled good but that is the best compliment I can give. Yes, I ordered two main dishes — I was that hungry. But I felt my meal was rushed. I know there was two parties of people in the restaurant besides Ed and myself (it was strange how quiet it was) but one would think the cook would’ve paced the meals better. Both main dishes came out roughly two minutes apart before my sunomono was finished. What this means is while I am eating one main meal, the other quickly goes cold. That’s poor planning on the kitchen’s behalf.
ES: I agree with James. After following many a documentary about what goes in a Michelin star restaurant to pace out the dishes, this places deserves a negative star for just bringing it all out in nearly one go. Mind you, while my buddy focused on the cooked, I went partially raw. I love the presentation for both the Lion and Caterpillar rolls. It took a stretch of the imagination to figure out where the head and tail is of the former, but the latter was too cute and I had to think twice before deciding which end to start at. The Lion roll was made with bits of avocado, a splice of prawn, flavoured with yam, textured with lettuce, layered with a light cream cheese, with accents of crab and highlighted with tempura flake. If it was meant to be spicy, I did not roar. But it is a great combination of flavours. I wanted the asparagus to stand out, but as with many a cooked stalk, they are always soft after being soft-boiled.
The Caterpillar is made with soft avocado, crispy cucumber and juicy crab meat with unagi sauce as a side. I particularly liked how a bit of octopus was integrated into this dish. I wished there was more, though.
JS: I’m not sure the servers even knew what was the end of the caterpillar roll either. It was obvious both of them were not experienced enough to be working in a restaurant. Even with 8 people total (Our party and 2 others), they couldn’t even provide the most basic service. As Ed said they forgot to refill our glasses of water, forgot to check how our meal was doing, had trouble pronouncing the items on the menu and the female server told me she was going to grab a spoon for my sunomono. For service, this restaurant is in dire need of properly trained staff.
And what’s with the heavy metal music blaring during a relaxing lunch in a Japanese-Korean restaurant?
ES: I can certainly see the similarities between these two cultures’ cuisine, but yeah the music choice was odd. I looked around to see if I could find the gentleman I met when I first stepped into this establishment months ago when James and I visited Bodega Bar. Maybe the reason everything was off was in the fact the general manager, the head chef, was not here to set things right.
At least some of the food was good and the presentation was notable. It was cute to see the sashimi served with palm trees (a plastic decoration). I really liked how my sampler plate of sashimi was presented. I had the choice of two grades of salmon, tuna, arctic clam and halibut. They were presented over a bed of daikon and ice, with a spoonful of seaweed salad to complete this paradise. My appetite was not only wetted but sated.
JS: Ed was on a tropical island of his own (the sashimi) and there was no bringing him back. No need for a Ginger or Mary-Ann (sorry Dawn Wells) for the appetite Ed had. The only thing he wanted to kiss was of the fish variety. And oddly enough I envied him this time around. Sadly, this island was only big enough for one.
2½ Blokes out of 5