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Sushi Kimura - new sushi joint opening May 1

This one sounds a bit different from the average Vancouver sushi place. The chef, Mr. Kimura, has worked all over the world, including stints in China, Mexico, and L.A. He's intentionally chosen a location away from downtown, near Rupert and 22nd, to create a more relaxed atmosphere and get a bigger space (1,600 sq.ft). Like Opera Sushi, this one has a musical theme, but this time it's jazz.

They're planning to have a yoshoku menu as well, starting in about a month's time. And the chef is going to mix things up by putting new limited-time dishes on the menu every couple of weeks.

Although I'm no rice connoisseur, they're going to be using Haenuki rice from Yamagata, which has consistently received an A Grade from the Japan Grain Inspection Association (I know...) since it was first introduced in 1993. I like the packaging: http://www.makotoasakura.com/wordpres...

If you're serious about sushi, you need to be serious about rice, so hopefully this place will turn out to be a little gem on the east side.

Hours: 11:30-2:30, 5:30-9:30

Website: http://sushikimura.com/index.html

Address: 3883 Rupert - Rupert + 22nd

Opera Sushi
1640W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6J1X6, CA

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  1. Thanks for the heads up Kentan -- on the list.

    FYI Opera Sushi closed a month and a half or so ago. Another sushi place is supposed to be going in there but no signs of life as yet.

    1. ooo...exciting news and very close to work. Thx Kentan.

      1. Reading some reviews from the last place that Mr. Kimura worked at in Santa Monica make this place seem very promising.

        1. Great intel Kentan! I've seen this place a few times and didn't think anything of it. Have some sushi then Portuguese egg tarts at Universal just a few doors down.

          1. I was excited to see a new sushi close by. When it opened, I was disappointed to find out that they have no take out lunch/dinner menu for those who work in the area.

            1. Stopped by for an early dinner this evening and by the time I left the place was pretty much full. First of all, it's a beautiful room including a wooden counter to watch the sushi action. Great jazz and sitting at the bar meant chatting with funny Kimura-san.

              They have the regular Japanese beers and bottles of sake. I had the tonkatsu set. Miso soup was good, but the tonkatsu was fantastic. Very moist with the panko breading. Instead of the regular "bulldog" sauce, there was a home-made version. I had to have some sushi too so I got salmon, halibut, and mackerel. All very fresh. Kimura-san even added a shiso leaf to the mackerel after I asked how he gets the shiso.

              They can do omaske at different price levels too.

              I can't wait to see this place at night. No place like it in the area. As their slogan goes, "Taste the groove in your mouth."

              3 Replies
              1. re: el_lobo_solo

                Nice report ELS! Sounds worth visiting, which I may just have to do now...

                1. re: el_lobo_solo

                  Hmmm...I was thinking of going to Lime tonight....maybe this place instead.

                  1. re: fmed

                    Hmm, we've never done a Japanese Chowdown, have we? Just a thought...

                2. Just had dinner at Kimura and it was well executed, very tasty & great value!

                  I had Matsu summer combo for about $25 ( I can't remember if it was 23.95 or 24.95). For the combo I got:
                  -1 Miso Soup (Very Happy they didn't bring me a spoon with the soup)
                  - Tempura (2 Prawn, Asparagus, Sweet Potato, Purple Sweet Potato, Carrot)
                  -Sashimi Plate (3 pieces of Red Tuna, 3 pieces of Hamachi & 2 Pieces of salmon)
                  - 7 Pieces of Nigri (Arctic Surf Calm, Saba, Red Tuna, Tuna, Hamachi, Tai, Ebi)
                  -Kimura Special which turned out to be lightly seared beef sashimi served either a balsamic vinegar reduction or a slightly sour teriyaki sauce with sauteed shanghai bok choi & king mushrooms + Chawan Mushi
                  - A bowl of Green Tea Ice Cream

                  The tempura was lightly battered, well prepared with very little oil on the blotting paper. I loved the vegetables they used, very different from other restaurants.

                  The sashimi was well prepared and great value.

                  The Nigri was great! The rice used was well seasoned and prepared. It was firmly packed and didn't fall apart when you picked it up but broke apart easily when you chewed it. Wasabi was placed underneath the fish..very nice. I loved the Saba!

                  The beef sashimi was good. Now the Chawan Mushi was a great surprise! I always used this dish as my barometer for the quality of a Japanese restaurant. I think it speaks to the quality and care the kitchen staff puts into their food. It's a very Japanese dish and not alot of restaurants serve it. I can only think of a handful that serve it.

                  It's not easy to make as there's a chinese equivalent that I always botch but my Father makes perfectly! The Chawan Mushi had the perfect texture although a little salty for my taste.

                  The ice cream was good too.

                  Kimura is very solid and I would compare it to Aki's, and is amazing value. If i were to have the same meal at Aki's I think I would be looking at least $50 to $60.

                  Mr. Kimura is a character and likes to talk to his customers, very personable chef. It's a shame they don't do an omasake yet. The waitress said if you call a few days ahead to make a reservation and ask for it, Mr. Kimura may be happy to oblige.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: moyenchow

                    Thanks for the mention of the chawan mushi, my dad's favourite Japanese dish (after live uni). Will deffo be taking him to Kimura for the next special occasion meal.

                  2. I went to Kimura again this weekend and was happy to see that they offer Omakase starting at $30. I asked for a meal in the $40 range and got the follow:

                    -Jellyfish Sunomono (Marinated Jellyfish, Cukes, Seaweed)
                    -Live Uni (Saw Kimura San prepare it)
                    -Blue Fin Carpaccio with a jalapeno sauce
                    -Monkfish Liver on top of Mashed potatoe
                    -Kobe Beef Carpaccio with tangy BBQ sauce
                    -Cha-wan Mushi
                    -Miso Soup
                    -3 Piece Nigri (scallop, Spicy tuna on top of pan fried rice cake, Unagi)
                    -Green Tea Ice Cream

                    I was very full. Sorry no pictures as I didn't bring my camera. The meal was nicely presented. The order of the dishes worked, although I think I may have messed up the order of the beef, monkfish liver and chawan mushi. Everything came out at a good pace.

                    Everything was very good and service was excellent. I don't think it's not as refined as Tojo's or Octopus Garden. But you can't beat $40 and it's nice having an Omakase option in East Vancouver.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: moyenchow

                      Jellyfish sunomono?! My SO is going to be very happy. We still haven't made it out to Sushi Kimura but I think maybe over the hols if they are going to be open...

                      1. re: moyenchow

                        i was there last week with a smaller sampling.

                        everything was good to very good.

                        it was really quiet in there. guess even though a good value, its location is not ideal for the offerings. i would return regularly if it was closer to home.

                        the robata, sushi and tempura items were all very well done.

                        1. re: betterthanbourdain

                          I totally forgot! The Omakase had 3 yakitori skewers included in the meal as well.

                          On the night I went, it was not completely full but they had steady stream of customers come in while I was there.

                      2. Perhaps I caught them on a bad day, but I really wasn't very impressed by this place on a recent visit for lunch. I ordered their Sushi mini udon combination.

                        The sushi itself was extremely sloppily presented, as you would find in a small country sushi spot in Japan, not a good one. Ginger was hanging off the side of the plate. Several pieces of fish had been cut really poorly leaving them broken in the middle or with a bad rough grain.

                        Some of the fish was very fresh. But some was not. He included a cooked shrimp which was mushy, as if it wasn't defrosted properly. The tuna had defrosting problems as well. There was a piece of eel which had a thick dollop of sauce instead of a gentle brushing - it overpowered the eel with salty sauce flavour instead of highlighting the eel flavour as it should. Some of the nigiri had sushi rice which was overly compressed, others were slightly falling apart. No consistency. The maki was very sloppy as well.

                        I was left with the overall impression that while the list of items available on the menu is impressive compared to many places around town, the skill and care of preparing those ingredients doesn't live up to the menu descriptions.

                        I won't be returning.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: YVRChow

                          Wow, I want to go to the places that you *like*. Any recommendations?

                          1. re: flowbee

                            My current favourite for sushi is extremely casual actually, but they do a nice job overall - Sushi Mart on Robson.

                            And even more casual, but also with very fresh fish (although I wish they would use better plates instead of disposable) is Zero One Sushi on Pender.

                            Then of course there is old reliable Angel Seafood to prepare yourself at home. Very nice product, and quite inexpensive as well. Just picked up some sashimi grade wild salmon there a few days ago which worked out to about $4-$5 for a piece that produced about 10 slices at home.

                            Angel Seafoods
                            1345 Grant St, Vancouver, BC V5L, CA

                            Zero One Sushi
                            559W Pender St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1V5, CA

                            1. re: YVRChow

                              I actually had the 1/4lb Uni bowl at Zero One Sushi recently. Awesome stuff. So fresh and only $10!

                              Zero One Sushi
                              559W Pender St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1V5, CA

                              1. re: flowbee

                                I remember reading a cheap eats recco for Sushi Zero One years ago -- glad to hear it is still around. On my list for the next film fest :-).

                                1. re: flowbee

                                  Yes! I had that 1/4lb Uni donburi just last week. Very fresh, and I've never seen so much uni in a single serving!

                                  No idea how to include photos when editing a post correctly, but here is my try (with apologies for crappy photo skills): http://www.chow.com/restaurants/86602...

                                  1. re: YVRChow

                                    will add sushi mart and zero one to my list. thanks, YVRChow and Flowbee.

                                    FWIW, kimura brushes his sushi with his blend of 'sauce' so no soy sauce needed.
                                    i can definitely see kimura having challenges with handling and managing his seafood. the place is so busy and really hard for him to predict what people will order esp for lunch.
                                    sushi chef have to plan their seafood order ahead. they also have to figure when and how much take out of the freezer in advance. when the restaurant sales is unpredicatble like it is at kimura, that is a harder job. it is always easier to 'manage' a busy restaurant with regular traffic.

                                    speaking of Uni. I had a good 'east coast uni' at kiriri in richmond. unfortunately, that was the only recomendable item from two dinners i had there.

                          2. I dined here last night, thanks to this post, and it was lovely. If you're lucky, the jazz will be old school bebop and not weather channel jazz, but it beats the ubiquitous Celine Dion at our corner sushi joint! The art is nice, and the place feels very open and clean.

                            SO and I both did the omakase at $30 at the sushi bar, and left stuffed (in comparison to our Tojo's omakase experience, with which we could have bought a used car, even if it was easily the best meal of my life). Everything was beautifully presented, very fresh, and a good value.

                            We had a little starter of gomai with a slice of fish cake and shrimp, which was only okay. The shrimp was overcooked and the fish cake, while pretty, is just not my favorite. It's too hotdog-like. The gomai was perfect, not too sweet. This was followed by a huge plate of salmon carpaccio with a nice handful of jicama and daikon salad on top. Then Kobe beef curry, also a filling portion. The steak was perfectly cooked, tender, meaty; the sauce was nice and thick, but very light. I enjoyed this dish, but wouldn't order it. The heavy flavor of the curry seemed a touch out of place.

                            This was followed by my favorite dish, a definite guillty pleasure, and luckily it's on the everyday menu. Spicy tuna on crispy rice: a scoop of perfectly spiced tuna on a very thin chewy fried rice pancake drizzled with spicy mayo and eel sauce, topped with a serrano pepper. He told us to eat it like a taco. Sooo good. But how could you go wrong wrapping spicy tuna in fried goodness and slathering it with sweetness and mayonnaise?

                            Then we were served a very nice palatte-cleansing bowl of miso, and then the last dish, an assortment of nigiri. All of it was great. Yellowtail, sockeye, skipjack, albacore (charred with a blowtorch), amaebi, and surfclam. We were both stuffed, but who can turn down a dessert when it's included? A very light bowl of red beans and mochi, warm and chunky. A very nice end.

                            The chef was very attentive and friendly, and took a lot of pride and care with each dish he prepared. Next time, there are some menu items I want to try, as I was thrilled to see they have okra tempura. As a southern transplant, my fried okra levels are running dangerously low! They also have a nice yakitori menu, and one of the specials was 9 skewers and a shot of sake for $13. That's my kInd of special.

                            It was only about 1/3 full on a Thursday night, so I hope that's not the norm. Kimura will be our go-to now, as it's much much better than most sushi places we've been to, has a lovely ambiance, a friendly chef, good service, and very reasonable prices.

                            1. I just noticed Kentan's OP where he mentioned Opera Sushi closed. That was a good lil' place. Too bad. Anyone know where the proprietor has gone ?

                              1. We have been averaging one omakase a month at Kimura since our first visit in January after reading this thread way back in 2010. We'd go more often if it wasn't such a schlep for us. Our last visits were in May with Calgary Hound miss foodie. I say visits because we actually went twice in a week. Kimura san continues to surprise me with different twists on dishes, and with somehow not repeating dishes. I don't necessarily love every single dish he serves me but the success rate is consistently very high and the experience is always top notch, with standouts in every meal. I like that he uses interesting ingredients too -- last meal it was some kinda crazy fern and a herb I wasn't familiar with done tempura style. And the fish is always so fresh. Just booked for next week, finally taking pater for his belated Father's Day feast. Yeah, I like the omakase here a lot.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: grayelf


                                  It's gotten to the point that they know me by voice when I call to make a reservation...

                                  1. re: jerkstore

                                    Dad loved his belated Father's Day omakase, and he and Kimura-san got on like a house afire which was a bonus. I've been meaning to post in detail about an omakase here in case other Hounds are interested so here goes:

                                    Last night four of us bellied up to the bar for an all-sushi omakase. This was a good choice as it was warm in the room despite some strategically placed fans. It was also very busy as it has been every time we have gone. We had bad luck in that the group behind us were very loud but the experience was otherwise as enjoyable as always.

                                    We started with a 2 litre (!) jug of Asahi Dry. This is a nifty aluminum jug with a snap on handle. I did not partake but it seemed to hit the spot.

                                    First up after the usual short delay which was filled in by some edamame, we got thin-sliced tuna with arugula, romano and an olive-oil vinaigrette. Refreshing way to start.

                                    Next was ankimo on a disk of marinated daikon with a pecan on the top. I snuck the ankimo over to my DC as I am not a fan. It disappeared with alacrity. The daikon and pecan on its own worked quite well.

                                    Kimura-san broke out the hon wasabi for all our sushi which was lovely. As has been mentioned, he adds a soy sauce "wash" to everything he thinks should have a touch of soy, otherwise it's "no soy sauce" for omakase diners. It's somewhat revelatory for the diner (and risky for the chef) to have each bite of fish presented pretty much on its own. Rewarding too.

                                    Hamachi and kampachi were next. Both excellent and to my mouth, slightly different fish but if you want to give yourself a headache over the possible differences see here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/482091

                                    Next up was aji, another head scratcher in terms of the exact fish. Kimura-san said "NOT horse mackeral" and indeed the smallish (8" long) whole fish he butchered on the spot for us did not fit the description, nor the online photos I've just looked at. It was imported from Japan as well. At any rate, it was one of the top bites of the evening for me. I wish the photo was better but it was so beautifully shiny I couldn't get my little point and shoot to record it any more faithfully.

                                    I didn't try the next plate, instead tasted my own shoe as I put my foot firmly in my mouth. Although we had requested all sushi and sashimi, Kimura-san had opted to throw in a cooked oyster on the half shell with a tomato-based sauce. When the server asked if that was okay, I blurted out, "No problem, I don't eat cooked oysters anyway." While that is true, in the past I have slipped such items onto my DC's plate without fanfare and all was well. My dumb comment attracted Kimura-san's attention and he waved the plate away. What a waste! If only I had kept stumpf... The others enjoyed their oysters without further mishap.

                                    Maguro and sake landed in front of us next. That would be salmon, not the beverage :-). I'm running out of ways to say delicious. Both of these bites were so tender and smooth.

                                    Amaebi has never been a favourite of mine, though I do prefer it to cooked ebi. This one was spot on, with the right texture and sweet flavour. One of my DC's lamented the lack of the head being deep fried which I understand, but this was a lovely morsel.

                                    The next arrival was hotate from Hokkaido, with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon on top and a bit of shiso hiding underneath. Again, a perfect package.

                                    To contrast the mild subtlety of the hotate, Kimura-san hit us with tai accented with his secret spicy yuzu condiment. A blast of flavour and heat.

                                    Saba was the next nigiri. This was my least favourite of the night as I found it too fishy. But I always do, and this was the best version I've had. It was also the SO's top bite of the night. He is a saba hound.

                                    The blue fin toro just made me really happy.

                                    Then we had anago. Dad (my sushi initiator) has always leaned toward unagi and kinda pooh-poohed anago. Sorry, Dad, your bad. This piece of seawater eel was delectable, delicate and flaky after its trial by fire and served completely plain on rice. Kimura-san noted it is difficult to get.

                                    A bit of Euro-flair creeped into the next piece with a sauce of split yellow mustard seeds and cracked black pepper adorning lovely aburi toro. I will only eat this here, as Kimura-san seems to know exactly how much to blowtorch the tuna to provide contrast and avoid the cooked tuna taste I have a huge aversion to.

                                    Sitting at the bar, we get to eyeball the plates going out to the other tables too which is fun. There was a dish being composed that we couldn't figure out the protein on. When we asked, the answer was "Confited duck, would you like to try some?" Why yes, yes we would. A small disk with two sauces, one of which was blue cheese based, landed in front of each of us. Yum.

                                    Two of us hit the wall at this point but Kimura-san was not done. My DC had a hand roll with salmon skin and yama gobo, while I got a "California-style" temaki with masses of scallop, tobiko and Kewpie. Haven't had one of these in ages, and it was good. He also whipped up a tamago stuffed with unagi for the DC which I got a bite of. I was presented with the best inari I've had in a long time, done what I believe is the traditional way with some shitaake and sesame inside. And then, just when I really thought I was done, I mentioned that next time I wanted to try something with natto. His eyes glinted and shortly I was presented with a small but generous bowl of natto, chopped yamaimo and tuna pieces topped with nori strips. Best dessert evah.

                                    We all found room for the now traditional bowl of ice cream. This repast set us back a mere $40, alcohol extra of course.

                                    1. re: grayelf

                                      I didn't include pix of everything so here's a rundown...
                                      Row one: tuna with arugula, ankimo with daikon, hamachi/kampachi, aji

                                      Row two: maguro/sake, tai, hotate, bluefin toro

                                      Row three: anago, aburi toro, duck, inari

                                      Row four: natto/yamaimo/tuna dish

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        As in all my experiences there, the dishes were generally good with mostly hits and some misses. I didn't enjoy the oyster which was baked in an Italian fusion style (tomato sauce, cheese, etc). The tuna with arugula's vinaigrette was overwhelmingly tart - and I also thought the ankimo was overcooked and was overpowered by the sauce.

                                        His raw things have been much better than his cooked things. He is very experimental and he does stretch the envelope a bit far in at least a couple of dishes in his omakase resulting in some forced fusions.

                                        Also - his style is very ragged and loose; and his knife work is not surgically precise as with most of the top shelf itamae in town. You will often see fish cleaving at the grain or having long tapers. These cuts would often be redone at other sushi places. These not quibbles to many sushi aficionados so I thought I would mention them to help manage expectations.

                                        That said, I think Kimura's omakase is a phenomenal deal...he is almost giving it away.

                                        1. re: fmed

                                          All great points, fmed, and agree totally but your last line is so true that for me the quibbles and small gaffes are obliterated.

                                          Funny that of the three dishes you didn't like, I only ate one. I did think that salad was a bit weaker than his usual raw-greens based dishes (normally among my faves). He was so slammed when we arrived I wonder if it was too hurried even for him.