823 Denman St, Vancouver
Price: Although it seems cheap, but could add up fast easily
I have never been to Zakkushi, but the 2 times that I tried their grill skewers, I was not impressed. The first time I tried their Yakitori was at last year's 'Taste of the City'. It was rather bland and nothing special. The 2nd time I tried it was at Kushi Box, although I did like one of the skewer, but it wasn't enticing enough for me to actually make the effort to try the restaurant.
This was the chosen restaurant for A's birthday, so I went along with it. The restaurant is medium size, with some very well designed benches. They are like crates with a lid on top, which you can lift up and store your jacket or purse. And now on to the food...
First dish was the Ebi mayo ($6.70). The prawns were succulent and the coating was not too thick. The spicy mayo was good. I would definitely recommend trying this.The Harumaik (chopped tuna roll in rice warp $7.80) was refreshing. Since the sauce is the Ponzu sauce (sourish), it was a good way to start the meal, as Chinese poeple believe that sour food will open up ones appetite.
Our first skewer were the Aspara Maki (slice pork wrapped asparagus) for $1.90/ea. The slice pork were grilled perfectly, it was juicy and the asparagus provided a nice crunch to the bite.Our 2nd skewer was even better than the first: Uzura Maki (quail egg wrapped with pork $1.90). Although this is exactly what I ordered at Kushi Box, but the quality is better here. The inside of the egg is actually heated, and the bacon is more juicy. However I did get take out at Kushi Box, so maybe the time lag between grilling it and I actually eating it had affect the quality.
We got an full order of assorted Oden ($12). I think it include 1pc of all the available varieties. This was actually quite good. I especially liked the soft daikon, and sticky rice in deep fried tofu. R loved the egg, no surprise there.The yakitori don (chicken teriyaki on rice) is very similar to the rice bowls at Kushi box, in fact it's pretty much the same thing. Because the bowl have a bigger surface area than the take out box, so they definitely had a more toppings than the Kushi box meal I had. The chicken was tender and juicy, and I think this is worth the price tag of $6.90.
This is by far my favorite skewer: P-Toro (BBQ pork). The pork was a nice cut, it has a even layer of lean and fat portion. The pork was lightly seasoned with some salt and pepper. Even with such simple seasoning, it was the pureness of the dish + the skill of grilling chef made this very delicious. For $1.70/ea, I highly recommend.The Zakkushi-Meshi ($6.80) was rather disappointing for me. The tuna was mushy, and the rice was rather dry. The seasoning was light, so the rice was a bit bland.Can you tell what that is? It's a chicken wing that has been split open (Tebasaki $1.70). Although the presentation was certainly interesting, the taste was average, but the meat was juicy though. R loved this one.The yaki udon ($6.80) was disappointing. Although the udon itself was chewy and soft, but as a whole, it lacked in flavor. I would rather spend the money on more grilled skewer, as they are much more impressive.Lastly, as I mentioned it was A's birthday, so instead of cake, we had their deep fried banana ($2.80, the above is 3 portions). They were really nice by turning off the lights before bringing out the dessert. I wonder if they informed the other customers first? Although it was definitely a nice gesture, but I would think people from other tables maybe put off by this gesture, as they had to dine in the dark for about 2-3 minutes. Anyways I digress, the banana gyoza was interesting, although it was pretty good, I find the skin a little over fried.
Overall, I was quite happy with the food. Majority of the skewers were very good (we had more than the above). Sometime, I think expectation plays a big roll, because I went in with low expectation, I actually left with a rather high opinion of the restaurant. Nevertheless, it was a good meal (in my opinion), so I would recommend.