I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
“I’m trying to put into words what has happened. Perhaps that is for historians to do sometime later.”
That quote from Peter Hyam’s underappreciated classic 2010 based on Clarke’s slightly over-appreciated follow-up to his seminal opus was pulled entirely from memory without requiring me to check the source. It came to me as I began contemplating the review of this latest restaurant. It reads as overly dramatic and given its context in the movie, it was appropriate, but how could I apply such a weighty statement to a sushi restaurant?
Because what we’ve been given is something special. Because Sushi Star does not belong here. For the past few years, the number of sushi restaurants in town has exploded. In only a decade, it has grown from one corner bar to nearly outnumbering the fast food joints combined. Wasabi, Tokyo, Suzuran, Sakura, Shogun, Sendo, So Good, Fuji Japan, Sushi Hut, I mourn the passing while also lamenting the virus-like spread of these establishments. I love sushi, but what I don’t wish to see is the commercialization of the cuisine, reducing its pedigree to the lows most Chinese restaurants have fallen to. Unfortunately, this is what I’ve seen of late, sacrificing quality for the sake of profit. And those that don’t fall into that fiscal black hole counter-curse themselves by making their prices beyond the threshold of consumers are willing to put down for a meal (how can you tell I’m taking Economics right now?).
As I neared the end of my initial reviews in Prince George, I was depressed to realize that I had not found a sushi restaurant to patronize like the grieved Suzuran which I had done weekly on a schedule so regimented, you could measure coral growth with it. Thankfully, I can call the search for the best sushi in town over. I found it. I had avoided making such declarations but after my third visit, I can safely call it, despite some caveats I will explain in exhausting detail in order to make them seem more severe than they actually are.
I’ve heard through my network of spies and informants that Sushi Star is owned by the same people responsible for Sakura, leaving me to question the closure and shifting to a new location half-way across town. I immediately spotted one chef from So Good behind the bar.
From its exterior, Sushi Star is difficult to spot. It’s nestled behind another building off a main road connecting to the highway. Although mere meters from said highway, you have to know it exists and precisely where in order to find it. In fact, it wasn’t until my second visit before I even realized what the place was called. Inside is a different matter entirely, as the establishment is one of the best looking of its format in town, blending both modern and traditional design. I have yet to take in the bar, though I should expect to do so soon. The tables wobble precariously but have yet to break. The menu is typical on a cursory examination until one sentence broadsides you with as much impact as the smell of the septic tank of a slaughterhouse the second you break the seal. All you can eat…which is the strangest and probably most disturbing sentence to follow the previous one. But is this some depressing chain of day-old rolls cooling over ice, under sneeze guards, and with as much flavour as day old road kill desiccating on a summer highway? No, you still order your food, and if you’re smart, you do so in stages to ensure a constant flow of fish. Having sampled all the sushi restaurants in town, I can state on solid ground that Sushi Star’s taste and texture match those damned nearly identically to So Good, understandable given similar staff. This is not a critique insomuch, though when quantifying with all of town, the food doesn’t top the list in town. But with moderately sized cuts and the capacity to specifically order exactly what you want, Sushi Star instantly takes the trophy as the best sushi in town.
But wait, I got more to share, specifically the problems plaguing perfection. The first is the service, which just averages itself. The waiting staff appears less concerned with satisfying people more than just ensuring people get their food. The second issue falls with the selection process itself. As one practised in the vernacular of sushi, I know what to ask for. Having said that, my friends and I still had issue trying to identify some of the selections offered. Like a Yum-Yum roll, which stumped even my sushi chef friend, James. On my first outing, three friends and I began ordering all the sushi we couldn’t recognize; this proved disastrous. Yum-Yums are disgusting deep-fried cream cheese-filled rolls, and to those who think that sounds desirable, let me introduce you to deep-fried butter, your next best friend. My advice, stick with what you know, which can be difficult if you don’t know what that is. Sushi Star could do well with an illustrated guide, which might be hiding around there somewhere, but we didn’t find one on our three outings thus far.
There are limits to the deal. Uneaten sushi is charged at full rate and you have a 90 minute time limit after sitting down, but given that, you’re still going to be blessed with the best value in town, and maybe even this side of the planet, period. I mean, I have never found a place boasting this much value. Miso? Done. Cones? Done. Sushi pizza? Why the hell not? I have this need to visit Sushi Star every week until it closes or changes its policy because I’m dumbfounded how it will maintain this economic model. I hope it works; I hope Sushi Star succeeds. Not to the closure of competition, surely, but I applaud such an attempt—a sushi restaurant with a gimmick only seen in Vancouver. We must support this. If you have ever been curious about sushi, or had been looking for good value in sushi, you got it. From my first visit to my recent third, I can also state that their quality has only gotten better. Just be patient, accept the hurdles I hope will be addressed, and ignore the FUCKING annoying child screaming like a seaside banshee from The Odyssey. Holy Hell, who brings a toddler into a Sushi restaurant? Seriously, did the mother think he would accept such cuisine when all children care about is cookies and ice-cream and mixes of the two if various ratios? Sushi is not a family-friendly food. It’s for adults and people with appreciation for the time and effort involved. It was like that couple that brought a two-year old to the midnight showing of The Two Towers. What were you thinking?! I hate being an impedance to other people, whether in be on the road or in a mall or in a restaurant, and this passes onto those I am with. This is why I know I would never be a good parent.
So yeah, eat at Sushi Star.
I have also promoted Sushi Star to Stage 2. Congratulations…