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Veteran Nigiri Sushi Level

There already was a "best nigiri" thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/854497), however reading the thread the focus was not on nigiri.

My favorite thing to eat is nigiri so I want to know where the best is. Maybe you guys have heard of the MRI of sushi study (http://boingboing.net/2009/07/17/mri-...). Veteran sushi is different, and in a subjective level I know it would be really different. Much of sushi is a matter of texture, the Japanese talk of kuchi atari (mouthfeel), shitazawari (tonguefeel) and hagotae (tooth feel/resistance). So much of sushi in Vancouver has degenerated/evolved into mayo covered, cheese stuffed, mango-laden rolls.

So if you could help me out and focus on nigiri where can I find the best. Thanks.

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  1. I think the reason why you feel the thread was derailed was because there really isn't a place that might attain that "veteran" level you describe here in Vancouver. Ajisai and Dan are probably my top choices (while lamenting the late Sushi Kimura), followed by Toshi, Shiro, Miko and the various other spots mentioned on the first thread you mention. Based on reviews of people I trust, I imagine Sushi Hachi in Richmond would be up there with Dan and Ajisai.

    However, I would say that the whole mayo thing is a little over emphasized. Yes, there is a lot out there, but it's not as prevalent as it's made out to be. I've never ever seen nigiri made with mayo. If you have seen it done, I am terribly sorry, but even the sketchier places know what nigiri is.

    1 Reply
    1. This suggestion is not traditional (going to sound weird) and it's more expensive but an over looked place to get really good tradition nigiri is Blue Water Cafe.

      The nigiri was great when Yoshi Tabo was at the helm and his successor kept the same quality. It is pricey.

      Another odd place is Guu in Richmond.
      I remember I was impressed because I had been to Blue Water a few nights before and the quality I got at the Richmond Guu held its own. Not as good but wasn't a huge drop in quality either. A word of caution it's been at least 18 months since I've been to the Guu in Richmond.

      1. Hanako-A real hidden gem in Surrey. The best Nigiri Sushi I had in greater Vancouver area. The chef/owner is in fact a Korean but learn all his skills in Japan.

        Order whatever on their hand writing special manu. Quite expensive (you won't expect to pay that kind of bill in such a humble decorated restaurant), but, man... it's well worth it, even now you have to pay the toll over Port-Mann.

        Other than Nikiri, don't miss their Crab salad or smoked Tuna salad.

        1. @peter.v thanks for the suggestions. I didn't mean to say that nigiri sushi is getting mayo slabbed on but rolls are nowadays.

          So current contenders are:

          Blue Water Cafe
          Guu in Richmond

          Lesser Known

          From previous thread
          Miku (different from Miko)
          Sushi Hachi

          My Favorites
          Octopus Garden

          9 Replies
          1. re: sillewater

            Note that Shiro is closing or changing ownership soon. (Retirement).

              1. re: fmed

                could you provide any more details? i'm a vancouverite living abroad and i don't get home til the 22nd... will i get a last meal with Shiro-san? i grew up with that man! i can't believe this, but he deserves a retirement...

                  1. re: gelfball

                    I had to look back through my retweets to confirm. They (he and his wife) retired in late August or early Sept. I haven't been to Shiro is a million years (it used to be in my regular rotation waaay back when it was one of only a handful of sushi joints in town).

                    1. re: fmed

                      So currently Shiro is in Shiro?

                      1. re: fmed

                        One of my neighbours owns/runs a sushi resto on the west side. They are friends with Shiro Okano's wife. They told me last week Shiro the resto changed ownership back in the Fall.

                  1. re: sillewater

                    I've been a couple of times (but not in over a year). It's just average -- certainly not a destination spot for nigiri.

                    1. re: sillewater

                      Temaki on Broadway? If so, its not in the same class whatsoever as any other ones listed here.

                      1. re: brokentelephone

                        Have to agree. While the resto itself is quite nice inside, it's pretty much lunch-grade sushi.

                    2. There is only one place where I have experienced Japan quality nigiri in the Vancouver area and that is Sushi Hachi. If you go make sure you get counter seating. I have had two or three meals here which were magical. One was quite bad because the rice was undercooked.

                      Tojo - I had nigiri here and it was cut the way sushi is cut at AYCE joints (actually tasted about the same too). I really would never recommend this place.

                      Ajisai is typically quite good but I was disappointed by the toro this past time I went. The Madai we had was simply wonderful - everything else was good but not amazing.

                      Shiro - I remember the fish being really good here. I was actually quite amazed by the quality. I haven't been back in a long time so it is hard to remember if it was really that good.

                      If you really want good nigiri though - go to Tokyo. We had three sushi meals there (all high end) and all heads (and tails) above what you would get here.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: quddous

                        Agree about Sushi Hachi (the one in Richmond on Odlum) -- when they are on, they are on. First place I ever tried three-line grunt, yum. Haven't been for a while as it is difficult to tee up resos with their short opening times.

                        Also have noticed that Ajisai's madai is really outstanding. Wonder why that particular fish is so good? I also love that they have mountain yam, an obsession of mine that is not available at many sushi places here (I've only had it at Ajisai, Tokyo Thyme and Miko). Also their natto is always excellent, if you like natto -- try a roll with natto, yamaimo and chopped maguro for a real taste thrill :-). OOPS, just realized this thread is about nigiri, sorry for the digression.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          The yamaimo with uni is an obsession of my wifes. That may be one of the reasons we frequent Ajisai so often.

                          1. re: quddous

                            ooooo, never had it with uni before. intriguing...

                            1. re: quddous

                              totally missed it last time. Will have to go again.

                          2. re: quddous

                            It's interesting that sushi is so prolific in Vancouver, but good sushi is as rare as almost anywhere -- I've had absolutely fantastic sushi in London, though there are relatively very few sushi places here.

                            1. re: brokentelephone

                              I find it odd but I just chalk it up to the food culture here, it's like that with a lot of things. maybe not enough people?