April 10, 2014

Sendo - Second Visit

In my attempt to reassess all the sushi places in Prince George, I’ve returned to Sendo (feeling I should quote Gandalf).  In my old review, I remember thinking it was cute.  Because it was.  It holds the distinction of being the furthest sushi bar to any other in town, sitting almost to the city limits, a great location for people in College Heights, not so much for everyone else. 

I entered and was greeted by a waiter so young, he was still drenched in afterbirth.  I remembered mentioning the prices were a little high in my last review, but perhaps I was wrong in that assessment.  Either that or they changed their menu since last time; I just don’t see it being that expensive now.  Or maybe I reviewed Sendo immediacy following a vacation where I reviewed the top restaurants in London.  Bias-much?  Now, Sendo has in its favor it follows up two rather depressing reviews of its competition. 

First of all, Sendo is a sushi place, and sushi is all that they serve.  They don’t call themselves a sushi place but gain a reputation for serving awesome noodles; it’s all about the sushi.  And Sendo may be the only one left with an actual sushi bar, a staple of classic Japanese cuisine and one I sorely miss.  I think Sendo and So Good maybe be the only ones left with bars.  Since I took my netbook with me (yes, I still own that hunk of crap) I sat at a table.  If Sendo gains the honor of being my regular sushi place, then the bar is where I’d go.  And I’m sure I’d attempt to befriend the chef and use said friendship to glean free sushi from time to time…not that I have done that before (cough). 

The decor hasn’t changed since last time, still chaotic, worn, ripped, and a little clumsy.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Seriously, I had no problem with the décor then and I still don’t now.  I love the fact it has a drive-through window.  I wonder how much Superstore sushi has cut into their business.  All of this really depends on the quality of their fish and rice.  I ordered the assorted sushi combo and added an additional spicy tuna roll.  If I was really hungry, I’d have tested their tempura and miso as well, but today, it’s all about the sushi, as the last two places have failed this vital component.  I won’t say “simple” component, as sushi is actually incredibly difficult to get right.  Proper itamae spend years just making rice until it becomes second nature. 

Perhaps the chef left to get a refresher because I typed this review at the table, and at—scrolling up—460 words, I was still waiting to see the proof of Sendo’s quality.  I don’t mind waiting generally, and I’m also a relatively fast typist despite still pecking with my index and middle fingers (I’ve also removed words since my initial draft—it was actually 700 words at this point).  However, at this point, I ordered tea and it still had yet to be delivered.

I took this moment to make a few observations. 

For one, Sendo is obviously popular enough to be selling T-shirts.  They actually sell memorabilia.

Water apparently is not free, so I assume it’s bottled, and I never buy bottled water. 

The entrance door gets stuck, making everyone think Sendo is closed despite the obvious customers enjoy their food.

Despite two bars and four tables, Sendo couldn’t fit more than thirteen people. 

It’s odd how the kitchen area is twice the size of the serving area. 

Twenty minutes in, I finally got my tea…and not in a paper cup.  Thank you.  A traditional cup and a KETTLE, why do I feel like I’m being spoiled?  Shouldn’t this be standard for all sushi restaurants? 

648 words, and still nothing.  I started running out of things to type, scrolling over the rest of the document, checking for errors and switching the tense from present to past.  It was odd to type these words as events I remember despite experiencing them now…wait, did that make sense?  I’ve always had issues about whether I should stay in present tense, except not all my reviews are completely written at the table, making it disingenuous if I write the “here and now” despite being after the fact.  Sigh, 736 words, still nothing to eat.  I can’t say that I’m starving—kids and adults with dwarfism in Africa suffer from starvation; I’m only hungry.  I remember threatening the old chef from Suzuran that I’d start a Change.org campaign in order to resurrect the old restaurant.  Other plates were delivered, mine would surely follow

Still waiting…

Who here watches Hannibal? 

Finally, the spicy tuna roll arrives.  On a wooden serving board, even better.  The fish…was cut…properly.  It was good—I’ve had better but not recently.  The assorted sushi truly was assorted, with roe, scallops, tuna and egg.  And it was all good with the notable depressing setback of the cucumber roll, the most basic roll to make and receive.   I know it’s what you get with assorted sushi, but heed warning that if you want something different to mention it. 

I think I’m finally seeing what few people are claiming, that perseverance and a little Sun Tzu philosophy has allowed Sendo to rise into the upper echelon of quality Japanese restaurants in town.  A little lost are you?  Well Sun Zu had a famous quote, “If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by.”  In honesty, I’m not sure the quote is his, but in this case, it refers to the unfortunate drop in quality of every other place in town, elevating Sendo as the recommended location of sushi.  Yes, I have to take back points for its confusing and crowed decor but this is really a situation where one must read the review to fully understand why one must visit here. 

Sendo has stuck to its roots and waited for everyone else to get worse, and they have.  Sendo hasn’t done much to improve their image, but at least they haven’t gone downhill…and right now, that can be considered praise.      

Food:  4/5

Service:  2/5

Presentation:  2.5/5

Value:  3.5/5

Recommendation:  3/5


Sendo Sushi Factory on Urbanspoon

tags #Prince George #Sushi #Eating out #restaurant #fine dining #Reviews #food #foodey #foodie