Friday, June 01, 2007

All You Can Eat Sushi

Apparently there is another place for all u can eat (AYCE) Japanese, and the hot (non raw fish) stuff is pretty good. It's called Sakura on Merivale. Found it on Guess there are more than enough websites commenting on food.

Anyway, we should try it once…seems like they had uni, roe and other stuff that I liked that was not on the Sushi Kan place and the comparisons on the foodies site were that Sakura was better... better service, better food, built only slightly of course… I am not a fan of all you can eat places except for the price. At my age I just don't eat enough to make the price worthwhile.

The one in Toronto, Ten-ichi is relatively more expensive I think, but they had hot teppanyaki etc. That would certainly add to the price. They have all you can eat lunch Sat and Sun between noon and 3pm and the price is confusing, but think it 19.95. That's double of Sushi Kan’s.

All this to say that there are a lot of foodies writers out there.

2007 06 01

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dirge of decent restaurants in Ottawa

Dirge of decent restaurants in Ottawa.

Was going to wander into that debate about decent restaurants in Ottawa, but must report that I have to agree with the Montreal food critic that was in town almost a year ago now….., (must admit I have not be vigilant in my update of this blog, read mainly by friends in any event), that other than French haute cuisine and bistro food, there are no decent restaurants in Ottawa. This runs the gamut of Asian, European, African, American and Australian food, if there is such a thing as the last two.

I have been traveling the highways though and there are a number of blogs that are so professional and with so many pictures that I am starting to wonder whether there are too many food writers out there. One particular existing site based in Australia worth a look is

Back to eating and the food in Ottawa.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the ‘all you can eat’ sushi place here in Ottawa, Sushi Kan, on Merivale Road. With much trepidation, given the web write ups on this restaurant and how it did not deliver in terms of order promptness and accuracy, and after much soul searching, I did finally get around to going with my son and daughter who are, like dad, food fanatics. My son had already been there a couple of times and said it was ok. Now he loves sushi, can eat vast amounts of it and what better test than have someone like that to judge the place.

The trick here is, know what you want and order as soon as you arrive, having a first glance at the menu. Then wait and look at the menu in detail and order for a second round. There is a limit of 1.5 hours sitting time, so if you wait, you can only get one order in. They have no license so don’t worry about the sake. Drink tea or soft drinks, which is also all you can eat… The waitresses are knowledgeable, but I suspect there is a rule that they follow, whereby they are the actual ones judging what you should be eating. If he/she feels you know what you are ordering, there will be little or no mistakes.

Then there is a wait, because unlike a mass produced all you can eat place, they make the stuff individually. And it takes about 30 min to get stuff to the table…that’s why order as soon as you sit, then you’ll be able to order the next round after the first one comes. The servers know when to come around and check. We polished off the first round of about 30 to 40 pieces and my daughter was already figuring out what the next ones were.

They have little unagi rice bowls, which were actually quite good and also hand rolls and udon noodles and tempura. During the 2nd round, we had ordered some tempura and noodles, but it never came….suspect the waitress judged that we were getting full, which we were… But we did finish everything that was served to us on the second round and had green tea ice cream to boot. This was the third round of ordering… We did not leave hungry.

In any event, for $15 per person for lunch, all in, it beats hands down anything else you can get in the city or even close by. So it’s good value, but you have to know and order fast. It’s not a place for atmosphere and lingering, like other Japanese restaurants; but the food is not mass or pre-produced, so it is as good as (and you know what I think of the making of sushi…very over priced in Ottawa), the bites at any of the other fancier places in Ottawa.

Are there any other Japanese restaurants in Ottawa? The Japanese say only one…Suisha Gardens. I would have to agree. But only because there is really a dirge of good restaurant of any sorts in Ottawa. Just like the Chinese would say Yangtze and Chu Shing are the only two half decent Chinese restaurants in Ottawa. And we all know how overpriced these restaurants are. A meal at the Japanese restaurant would set you back $60 and the Chinese ones $40.

There are no three star status Michelin guide restaurants in Ottawa. Or even two star. I mean good cheap food is also of value, but there is a lack of that too.

On the flip side, there are some really poor restaurants in Ottawa, where even food poisoning is not unheard of. And these are places that are popular, but the food is so bad I would never go back. The worst of the bunch would be Johnny Farina on Elgin, the Fish Market in the market and Penang Wok & Siam Kitchen on Bank street south. Mandarin Court in the Merivale area and Caveau de Szechwan in the market are also amongst the worst. I mean I have been sick myself after eating at these places. The slightly less worse are those where the emphasis is on the rah rah, but the food sucks, or the food is so expensive that you need an expense account to get it and it isn’t haute cuisine. Some of these are any sports bar on the Ottawa side, Lone Stars, Baton Rouges, and Boston Pizzas.

A couple of interesting finds, and I say interesting, not great, but worth a go if you like good food is Sacred Garden at 1300 Bank St., and Four Cuisines Bistro at 268 Preston. But beware, both have idiosyncrasies. The sacred garden is an exotic vegetarian Thai places. It is interesting, but being a non-veg, I find that they’ve yet to pass mustard on creating veg dishes. And at that price, I wouldn’t go back….But veg food is expensive in Ottawa…like everything else….

The Four Cuisines Bistro chef owner Minh Trang is actually Chinese and lived in Australia before coming to Canada. He has worked a number of places including the Westin’s main restaurant kitchen as chef there, so his stuff is pretty good. Does it come close to anything like in Toronto, like Lee’s or Susur’s? Not a chance.

Oh and my fav perogies place, Katlinka’s is closed for lack of business… I am devastated.

So the good ones don’t last, the bad ones go on forever… there a dirge of good eating in Ottawa… you be the judge….

2007 05 31

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Korean Food

More than a year later and Korean food has only gotten worse in Ottawa. My favorite haunt, Arum’s, has gone through a number of changes in ownership again and generally I would say that it is at best not as good as it was before. And there have been no new discoveries. Guess it's time to give up on all you can eat Korean. Learn how to make your own kimchi and buy a BBQ!

2007 05 28.