Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

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Niku Mazesoba

Last year, a new ramen restaurant opened up and it definitely found itself having long lines as expected. Kokoro Toyko Mazesoba is located just next to the Downtown BCIT campus which makes it a popular spot for all the students. If you come during peak lunch and dinner hours, expect to wait, although it is quite spacious and food comes out fast, so the turnover is quite quick. Mazesoba is essentially a mixed noodle or soupless ramen. I first tried something similar to this when I was in Tokyo.

I decided to try the Niku Mazesoba which seemed to be their most popular mazesoba. It features slow braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, green onion, seaweed flakes, chives, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Noodles sit below all the ingredients and you mix all the ingredients and noodles together while breaking the yolk. It reminds me of a dan dan noodle with each noodle strand being coated with some sauce. The noodles were toothsome with a nice al dente texture. They are right when they say not udon but also not ramen as it is really something in between.

 

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Shio Mazesoba

S didn’t really want that raw egg yolk so he got the Shio Mazesoba which featured slow braised pork chashu, bamboo shoot, green onion, spinach, seaweed flakes, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Instead, he added a soft boiled egg on the side. His mazesoba was definitely less saucy without the egg so he actually did not have much sauce leftover. If you find the noodles a bit too heavy, you can also try adding vinegar to break the grease and saltiness. They also have chilli flakes on the table if you want to add some kick to your noodles.

 

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Although S’s bowl didn’t have much sauce left, my Niku bowl had plenty of sauce and ingredients left. The waiter will come by and ask if you’d like a free small bowl of rice which you can then drop into your leftover sauce and mix. It surprisingly tasted really good! But I could really only eat half the portion of rice after a whole bowl of noodles. If you’re hungry, then definitely go for the free rice!

 

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Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba

On another occasion, I came back during lunch hours to try their Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba. This featured mentaiko, slow braised pork chashu, raw egg yolk, seaweed flakes, spinach, green onion, minced garlic, japanese cream sauce, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. I actually preferred this over the Niku Mazesoba as I found that the Niku was a bit heavy and salty for my liking. I found the mentaiko cream helped cut the grease a bit even before I added vinegar.

 

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Overall, I quite enjoyed the mazesobas but like ramen, it’s not something I can eat often as they are more on the heavy side. Plus, the prices are quite steep with most bowls going for $15-16 each. Definitely not a spot I could come for work lunch all the time. They do offer classic ramens with soup and a variety of appetizers and desserts, but I have yet to try those.

Pros:
– Mazesoba noodles are nice and chewy
– Extensive menu so there is something for everyone

Cons:
– Prices are steep for ramen
– Some of the bar seating isn’t very comfortable with the low backs

Price Range: $15-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking/ paid BCIT parking lot Overall: 3.5

 

 

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Superbaba

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Superbaba is one of the newest food trucks in the downtown core. It opened up earlier this year and parks in front of the Bentall Towers on the weekdays. The food truck has a restaurant in Victoria so not a stranger to BC. It caught my attention after seeing so many people lining up.

 

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The food truck features Middle Eastern food and focusses on pita wraps and bowls. The dishes range from $10-$12 so fairly priced for the downtown lunch crowd. They have two vegetarian options including falafels and eggplants, but also two meat options including chicken and steak.

 

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Falafel Bowl

I decided to go for the Falafel Bowl which featured chickpea fritters, fried cauliflower, tomato & cucumber salad, hummus, pickled cabbage, tahini, and shug. All bowls have a base of dressed kale and arugula and chilled rice and lentils. Being a meat lover, this vegetarian dish was absolutely delicious. These are probably the best falafels I’ve had. The falafels were so crispy on the outside and moist and flavourful inside. The hummus was smooth and not too garlicky and the fried cauliflowers were again crispy and crunchy with a nice acidity. Even the pickled cabbage and salads tasted great. I thought I would be hungry given most of the dish were vegetables, but I was surprisingly full. Highly recommend this dish!

Based on the falafel bowl, I am already loving Superbaba. I can’t wait to come back to try their wraps and other dishes. There’s a bit of a wait during lunch hours, but they’re pretty quick after you place your order. Plus, the people are super nice. Will be back to try more soon!

Pros:
– One of the best falafels I’ve had
– Reasonably priced

Cons:
– Line up can get pretty long during peak hours

Price Range: $10-15 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: N/A Parking: N/A Overall: 4.5

 

Superbaba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nightingale

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Nightingale is Hawksworth’s sister restaurant and located in a beautiful building next to the MNP Tower. You could easily walk by the building without realizing its a restaurant. I wish I got some outside and interior pictures because the decor is seriously beautiful. The interior is extremely posh and we were seated in their upper level during lunch. The menu is Canadian but you’ll find pizzas, pastas, and a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetables showcasing what the Westcoast has to offer. The restaurant is family style so the dishes are meant to be shared. Of course, you can choose to enjoy an entree all to yourself.

To start, we had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken which was drizzled with a spiced maple syrup, sumac and pickles. The fried chicken was extremely crispy with the meat still moist. It didn’t feel greasy at all and the sour pickles were a nice compliment to the fried chicken.

 

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Roasted Mushroom Pizza

Of course we had to try the pizzas, so we chose the Roasted Mushroom which is vegetarian. This consisted of mushrooms, fontina cheese, confit garlic, and arugula pesto. The pizzas are thin crust crust with the edges charred with pockets. The dough is very light which was great since the cheese was quite heavy. Loved the flavours of the dish and the ingredients were abundant and well distributed.

 

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Spaghetti with Manila Clams

Finally, we tried one of their pastas and chose the Spaghetti with Manila Clams, jalapeño, scallion, and white wine. The spaghetti was cooked to al dente and the sauce was light but enough to keep the pasta moist. There were also many clams in the dish and none of them had sand in it. This is the entree portion, but you can choose to get an appetizer size as well.

Overall, I was very pleased with the food at Nightingale. I thought each dish was well executed and the pricing is quite reasonable for the portions and quality of food given the beautiful ambiance. The prices were a pleasant surprise given Hawksworth can be very pricey. I thought service was a bit intimidating though as our waitress seemed slightly cold although professional. A great place for date night or a casual lunch with a nicer ambiance.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes
– Beautiful ambiance and interior design

Cons:
– Wish our waitress was a bit more warm and friendly

Price Range: $20-40 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Paid parking in the area Overall: 4

 

Nightingale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

The Holy Crab

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Seafood boils have been popping up everywhere in Metro Vancouver, and The Holy Crab is one of them. The restaurant is located on Robson and Cardero, so definitely a bit of a walk if you’re coming from the downtown core. The restaurant is Louisiana inspired and focuses on fresh seafood. To start, you’ll be given a fun bib and gloves to ensure you keep clean. You’ll also get scissors, seafood crackers, and paper towel for this seafood mess.

 

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Shrimp Roll

What I love about The Holy Crab is that there is much more other than seafood boils, and they seem to do these sides right. We got the Shrimp Roll which was seasoned with mayo and cajun powder. The shrimp was filled generously in a delicious butter toasted roll. Loved it!

 

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Crispy Fish and Chips

Another snack we got were the Crispy Fish and Chips, but really, this could be a full meal for one. And this is at the great price of only $9! I wish this was closer to work, so I could come here for lunch. I believe the fish is catfish but it’s super long! The batter was flaky and didn’t feel oily at all. Be sure to get the Cajun fries for your chips as the seasoning is so addictive!

 

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1 lb of Shrimp (half Cajun sauce and half garlic pepper)

Lastly, we had to try their seafood boil, so we chose 1 lb of Shrimp which is a decent amount to share for two if you are getting other items. There are two sauces to choose from – the original Cajun sauce or garlic pepper. With the Cajun sauce, you can also choose how spicy you’d like it. I chose mild and it really wasn’t much spice at all. The garlic pepper is not spicy at all. We were also allowed to get half half for the sauce and next time I would ask for the sauce on the side. I prefer dipping my seafood in the sauce so the sauce isn’t too overwhelming. The shrimp were pretty big and were juicy and we had no complaints. Apparently, some of their other seafood such as crab and lobsters are live so you know the seafood will be fresh.

 

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Overall, I was really pleased with the food at The Holy Crab. I find that the seafood is priced slightly higher than other restaurants, but it seems like the quality is there so it’s worth paying a little more. Also, they don’t boil the seafood in plastic bags which can be a little concerning. Lastly, service was very friendly and prompt and seating is quite comfortable.

Pros:
– Seafood tastes fresh and isn’t overly seasoned
– Side snacks are also well executed

Cons:
– Prices for seafood can be slightly higher than other seafood boils

Price Range: $20-30 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Meter parking on nearby streets Overall: 4

 

The Holy Crab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Ramen Koika (Robson)

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Ramen Koika recently opened up their second location on Robson Street in Hapa Izakaya’s old location. Their original location is still at Davie Street but of course it’s good news that there is another ramen option in this area.

 

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The ramen shop has a nice modern decor and is quite spacious compared to many of the other ramen shops in the area. I like how they have tables that fit larger groups which most of the other ramen restaurants would not be able to accommodate. Just shortly after 6pm on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant was already at capacity, so make sure to come by early if you’re with a larger group.

 

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The menu is a decent size with a variety of appetizers and rice bowls available. These are great for sharing and a good option if someone in your group isn’t craving ramen. They also have beers, sakes, and soju. I noticed they also carry Fuggles and Warlock’s beers! Great to support local breweries!

 

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As for ramen, they have a variety of choices, from traditional miso ramens, to some very innovative ramen consisting of seafood. They claim that their noodles are made fresh the night before and the broth is made in the morning with no MSG. For the ramen, you can also choose to have your noodles soft or hard, and your chashu to be lean or fatty. You can also add side dishes and other toppings for additional costs. Extra noodle is also available for an additional $1.50.

 

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Puri-Puri Ebi

We started off with some appetizers including the Puri-Puri Ebi which is deep fried panko breaded jumbo shrimp served with tartar sauce, sesame, and parsley. The batter was really light and didn’t feel greasy at all. The sauce and seasoning was also not overpowering as you could still taste the sweetness of the shrimp. Great dish for sharing!

 

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Coco Karaage

The Coco Karaage was also a great deep fried dish. The deep fried house battered boneless chicken karaage was juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The chicken pieces are quite big and a regular order comes with around 4-5 pieces.

 

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Triple Black Garlic Ramen

As for ramen, we tried two of their best sellers. The first was the Triple Black Garlic Ramen which features cha-shu, spinach, seasoned egg, bamboo shoot, roasted seaweed, green onion, garlic chip, and triple black garlic oil served with thin noodles. The egg was cooked perfectly and S chose lean cha-shu which was not overly dry.

 

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As for the noodles, he had chosen hard but we both found the noodles to be more “regular” rather than hard. Our personal preference is for the noodles to be a bit firmer, so when we chose hard, we expected them to be a bit more firm. I liked the thin straight noodles though and these were great at soaking up the broth. The broth was rich but S thought it could be slightly stronger in garlic. I personally thought it was sufficient, but I guess it depends on how much you love garlic.

 

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King’s Seafood Ramen

For myself, I chose the King’s Seafood Ramen. This is their most expensive ramen on the menu at almost $17! But of course, the price is justified with the abundance of ingredients including blue crab, clam, green mussel, cabbage, black tree fungus, onion, red pepper, green pepper, thai chili, and bean sprouts with red pepper powder on top. They definitely do not skimp on the ingredients. Although the blue crab does not have much meat in the legs, you can suck the meat out from the center which was really sweet in flavour. The clams and mussels were also tasty and were not over cooked or tough.

 

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This ramen is served with thicker noodles and I also felt like this bowl was larger than the previous ramen. So definitely the perfect bowl for a big eater! You can choose from no spicy, mild to spicy as well. This one was mild and is great for people who just want a little hint of spice. I typically like my ramen very plain with few ingredients, but this seafood ramen seemed to work and wasn’t too overwhelming.

Overall, I thought Ramen Koika offers some unique twists to ramen, many of which I have not seen in metro Vancouver. I would say that most of the ramen has more ingredients and the bowls are also a decent size for the price. If you’re looking to try more creative ramen, then Ramen Koika is the spot for you. Also a great spot if you have a larger party!

 

Ramen Koika Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tetsu Sushi Bar

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Tetsu Sushi Bar is now one of my favourite sushi spots in Vancouver. The restaurant opened up earlier this year and is located on Denman near Robson. The spot is quite small and can only fit around 15 diners so be sure to make reservations in advance.

 

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The restaurant is known for their omakase which is reasonably priced compared to many of the other omakases in Vancouver. You can also choose to have chef’s choice of sashimi or sushi and can have this with or without the appetizers, udon and ice cream.

 

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They have a daily special menu depending on what’s fresh. At first, we thought that they only have this menu along with the omakase, but turns out they have an extensive menu with sushi rolls, dons, and appetizers. I was definitely surprised by the large menu.

 

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E decided to get the omakase set with 7 piece premium sushi for $62.75. First, you get 3 appetizers. The first was Black Cod Sperm. Yes, this was extremely weird to hear but I was curious to try it. It looked sort of like brain and didn’t really taste bad or anything. I honestly can’t really explain what I ate, but worth giving it a try if it’s part of the set anyways.

 

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The second appetizer was Sea Snail in a light broth with pea snaps. The snail was very tender and not tough at all. It sort of reminded me of escargot but had very clean flavours.

 

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The last appetizer was the Grilled Sablefish. The skin was crispy while the meat was super soft and moist. Buttery smooth! So good!

 

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K and I both got the Chef’s Premium 7 Piece Sushi for $42.75. The only difference with the premium vs. regular set is that you get Hokkaido Uni and Bluefin Tuna Kamatoro. E’s omakase set also came with the exact same pieces since he chose to get the 7 piece premium option as well. The majority of the fish were white fish but I always enjoy trying these as I would never normally order them on my own. From left to right: Bluefin Tuna Kamatoro, Bonito, Ika (Flying Squid), Masai (Sea Bream), Sardine, Spanish Mackarel, Hokkaido Uni. The sardine was probably my least favourite as it was more fishy but the ginger really helped. The favourites for me were the sea bream which melted in my mouth and of course the two premium pieces. The bluefin kamatoro which I believe the waitress said was the cheek area and is from Nova Scotia was definitely among our favourites as well. The fish was so buttery and creamy and just melted in my mouth! And of course the Hokkaido Uni was a no brainer. Sweet and fresh with a tiny bit of wasabi. So good if you are a uni lover. All the fish already come brushed with some light soy sauce so no need to dip any additional soy sauce on top.

 

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Since K and I did not get the omakase set, we decided to share the Inaniwa Udon which you can choose to have hot or cold. We chose to have it with the cold dipping sauce which was very refreshing and I can imagine this being perfect in the hot summers. I really enjoyed this thin and chewy type of noodles which the waitress said they order from an area called Akita in Japan and these are handmade in Japan. If you love udon, you must try this! I want to come back just for the udon!

 

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E also got to choose between the cold or hot Inaniwa Udon as part of his omakase. He chose to have it in hot soup and he said it was raelly delicious as well. I think the portions for the omakase are half the size though.

 

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To finish, E’s omakase also came with his choice of green tea or black sesame ice cream. Nothing too special with the green tea ice cream, but of course it’s nice to finish your meal with some ice cream!

 

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Overall, we were all very pleased with the food at Tetsu and cannot wait to come back. The highlights were definitely the nigiris and udon and I like the fact that you can order a la carte and also order rolls. Service was also extremely friendly and our tea was always filled up. I noticed there are quite a few regulars here so I really hope this spot is here to stay!

 

Pros:
– Really good nigiri and udon
– Service is very friendly

Cons:
– Very small spot

Price Range: $40-60 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 5

Tetsu Sushi Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yuzu Shokutei

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Yuzu Shokutei opened up earlier this year on Denman Street nearby Kingyo. The branding of the restaurant really caught my attention since its bright and fun. Plus, the pictures on their Instagram page really looked good! S and I decided to give it a try earlier in the summer when they were having a promo going on (yes – this post is from a while ago!).

 

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The deal was that if we liked their Instagram page, then we could get an appetizer and a pint of beer for $5. We got a pint of Sapporo which was refreshing after a long day at work!

 

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Takoyaki

For the appetizer, we got the Takoyaki (octopus balls) which were topped with mayo, bonito flakes and nori powder. I really enjoyed this as the outside batter was crispy with the center piping hot and soft. They had a large piece of octopus in each ball.

 

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Paiten Sea Salt Ramen

Both of us decided to try their ramen. Keep in mind that the restaurant actually has a variety of rice dishes as well, as they are more izakaya style, then a full on ramen restaurant. S got the Paiten Sea Salt Ramen which featured medium thickness noodles, slow cooked chicken broth, shio seasoning, aji-tamago, pork chashu, bamboo shoots, and green onions. The bowl had more than enough noodles but we both prefer the thin noodles at Danbo, so personally were not a huge fan. The broth itself was light in flavour and wasn’t overly salty, but we found it to be rather thick. As for the chashu, it was very interesting because the outer edges were very dark but not crispy. We thought it was slightly too fatty on the outer edge. I think if you like medium consistency noodles, then you will probably enjoy this.

 

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Chicken Truffle Sea Salt Ramen

For myself, I had to try the famous Chicken Truffle Sea Salt Ramen. This features their signature tori broth, truffle oil, shio seasoning, pork and chicken chashu, aji-tamago, bamboo shoots, green onion, enoki, and wilted gem tomatoes. There are so many toppings on this that I found it a little overwhelming. But the first thing I noticed was the smell of truffle! I could smell it as the server brought it over. To my disappointment, I found that the truffle flavour is not very apparent in the broth itself. You can definitely smell it, but the taste is not as strong. The broth is basically the same as the Paitan Sea Salt, where it was too thick for my liking. Noodles were also medium consistency, so perhaps the reason I wasn’t a huge fan of it. The tamago yolk was spilling out in the center but the edges were slightly overcooked, so could be worked on.

 

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Overall, we personally found Yuzu Shokutei’s ramens to be quite average based on the ones we tried as we personally aren’t a huge fan of medium consistency noodles and the thick broth. However, I have to say the ramens are quite interesting and modernized. The portions are also pretty good for $12-14 in downtown. But with all the ramen joints around this area, it may be difficult for Yuzu Shokutei to compete, but hopefully their other izakaya items can draw the crowds!

 

Pros:
– Truffle ramen is really interesting
– Friendly service

Cons:
– Personally didn’t enjoy the medium thickness of noodles and thick broth

Price Range: $15-20

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 4 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

Yuzu Shokutei Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Momo Sushi (Robson)

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Since we were in downtown, I suggested we try something new. A bit of Googling got us settled at Momo Sushi which is down on Robson Street past the shops. Apparently there are tons of Momo Sushi shops around downtown.

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The interior is simple and relatively clean. When we arrived, there were still many seats open, but closer to dinner time, the place was all packed.

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Chicken Teriyaki Roll, Yam Roll, California Roll

I knew we were here for “good value” sushi so I wasn’t expecting much here given the lower prices. S chose a variety of his usual rolls and when the plates came we were surprised how large the portions were! He was beyond full at the end and it didn’t cost us much.

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Spicy Combo (Spicy Tuna Roll and Spicy Chopped Scallop Roll) and Negitoro Roll

For myself, I chose their Spicy Combo and added a side of Negitoro Roll since I thought I would still be hungry… Guessed wrong since I could barely finish my plate. The chopped scallop roll had chopped scallop inside the roll but also piled on top. You could make two rolls with the amount of scallop they put… The only thing that I wasn’t fond of was that cheap spicy sauce they used. But I can’t complain given the prices I paid. The fish was also surprisingly quite fresh!

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Overall, S and I left the restaurant happy that we had a good deal and were pleasantly full. Don’t expect authentic sushi here, but I found that the rolls were decently executed and fish appeared fresh. When I want cheap sushi without sacrificing too much quality, I’ll be returning to Momo!

Pros:
– Reasonable prices
– Large portions

Cons:
– Not your authentic Japanese restaurant
– Very busy during prime hours

Price Range: $10-15

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 2.5 Ambiance: 2 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3

Momo Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato