thisisarestaurantblog: cute cartoon picture of food such as fortune cookies, soda bottle, etc (Default)

This place just opened this month, so I decided to check it out for take-out with The Boyfriend. We went in on the second or third day after it opened, and I'll be honest: they didn't really have their crap together yet. This was most clearly shown in the woman working the cash register. She had to ask one of the chefs for help with ringing up practically everything.

I've misplaced the take-out menu, but we ordered a sushi sampler and a sashimi sampler; each was around $9. They also gave us two free bowls of miso soup, which was nice of them; it's probably because of them just opening, or maybe as apology for the cash register tie up, lol.

I was disappointed. Yes, the price was kinda low, but as you may be able to see in the picture, the maki weren't fully closed. The fish tasted fresh but not particularly high quality, if that makes sense? Like, there wasn't a rotten or old taste, but there wasn't the good taste of the fish that I want either.

I actually ended up eating those rice cakes you see there to fill my tummy, lol, and later I sauteed some of the sashimi fish for dinner.

The quantity and price were right, but I dunno, for me, with sushi, it's go big or go cooked. The miso soup was actually the best part of the meal. I finished all of that.

However I'm not going to label this one "not recommended" either because they were clearly getting their bearings.

Name: Sushi E
Location: 2328 Cambie Street Vancouver, BC V5Z (604) 873-2000
Prices: $5-15/person, I would say.
Service: Friendly but not yet well-organized.
Food: In a word, bland. The miso was pretty nice though.
Recommended?: Based on my one experience, no, but it's early days yet.

Sushi E on Urbanspoon
thisisarestaurantblog: cute cartoon picture of food such as fortune cookies, soda bottle, etc (Default)

Mandala Iki Asian Bistro is apparently an offspring of Iki Japanese Restaurant on W. Broadway. Mandala Iki does sushi and Japanese cuisine but also "chinoise dish" as the menu says.

I'm a big fan of sushi and raw fish, but with several qualifications that you, discerning restaurant review reader, should know. I don't like the taste of nori, that dried salty seaweed wrap common in rolls, even though I like seaweed. And I grew up and go to university in Pennsylvania, a land-locked state. I don't believe that sushi can be gotten fresh enough there, so I only went out for sushi when dragged by friends.

No, my love affair with uncooked fish began in Taiwan. Because of this, however, I'm more or less clueless on the proper Japanese names for different kinds of sushi.

This brings us to the bad part of the review.

I was a little surprised that the menu offered no English translations of any of the Japanese terms like unagi, hamachi, etc, nor did many of the dishes have descriptions of what they contained. So I waited for the waiter to come back and said "Excuse me, do you have a cheat sheet or something with translations of the Japanese terms?" And he said "Uh, like what?" "You know, like, the kind of fish in the sushi. Like, what is hamachi, for example." "Hamachi is yellowtail." And he was giving me this look of condescension, like, that he was bemused by the idea of wanting/needing English translations of these things. So I was feeling embarrassed, and although I had planned on asking more (like, which one was the kind of sushi that doesn't have seaweed), I just quickly asked what two of the bowls were, since Gordon had expressed interest in them (Oyako Don and Chirashi). He told me, with the same look of disbelief, and a tone of impatience.

He really made me feel foolish. I was blushing. Excuse me, buster, but I'm from a landlocked state. I don't eat sushi there because I don't feel the fish can be brought in fresh enough. I ate it in Taiwan but the menus there were in Chinese. I apologize profusely for not knowing the terms in Japanese for the twenty or so different kinds of fish you offer.

I ended up ordering the Power Sushi Bowl (on special for $9, pictured above, half-eaten) because it was one of the specials and thus had a description, where it mentioned that the raw fish were tuna and salmon. Thanks very much! Sounds delicious! And it was. But the service was weird. Giving your customer the stinkeye because she doesn't know that saba is mackerel is not the road to a high tip.

Gordon got beef teriyaki ($8.50), and as you can see, by the time I took the picture he had already eaten most of it. Both dinners came with miso soup.

Mandala Iki and its parent restaurant are known for using brown rice. Their website is even However you can order white rice instead if you liked. Personally I liked the healthiness of my Power Sushi Bowl over brown rice. The salmon, in particular, was delicious, and the seasoned vinegared rice was just right.

We also ordered one of their sushi specials, a crunchy artichoke roll ($7).

A vegetarian sushi, this contained artichoke heart, cream cheese, and sundried tomato, and some kind of special sauce. It was wrapped with a rice paper, then brown rice, then rolled in pumpkin seeds. AMAZING. I don't even like sundried tomatoes and I thought it was amazing. However, it was a special, so it may or may not be there if you go.

Mandala Iki also has a selection of hot teas, including six different kinds of green tea, three of them organic, all for the ridiculously cheap price of $.75, with free hot water refills of course. I got the organic green tea and Gordon got the organic brown rice green tea, which I wasn't too keen on. The brown rice flavor was there and I felt like it made the drink less refreshing. Additionally, we got an appetizer of edamame ($3), since we both love it.

Dinner for two came out to about $30, and you can't beat that in Vancouver for the amount of food we got. Mandala Iki is fully licensed and carries wines, beers and sakes by the glass and bottle, but we did not have any on our trip.

The atmosphere fully fit the name "bistro." The restaurant is not large, and the place is cozily lit, with warm colors and framed kanji on the walls.

All in all I'd like to go back to Mandala Iki, but I would print out a sushi glossary before I went, and hope for a more welcoming and patient waiter--especially since my boyfriend has even less sushi experience than I do, and I was trying to convert him to my raw fishy ways.

Name: Mandala Iki Asian Bistro
Location: 2394 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6K 1P1 (604) 734-3715
Prices: $10-$15/person (if not drinking alcohol), lunch specials available
Service: My waiter was impatient with my questions, but service was prompt. He looked miffed when we gave him a 15% percent tip (you pay at a register), which under the circumstances I thought was generous.
Food: Large portions, reasonably priced, of delicious Japanese and Chinese food, with specials changing regularly. I often walk by here and the specials always look fantastic.
Recommended?: Food and atmosphere I recommend strongly, but I was not very pleased with the service, however that may have been just that one guy. I will go back.

Mandala IKI Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon


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