三本味 Japanese Restaurant

Last night I had dinner at 三本味, a Japanese restaurant that is located between MRT Sun Yet-Sen Memorial Hall station and Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station (I’m very thankful to be living so close to Dunhua station.. there are so many good eats in the area!). 三本味 is in a small alleyway, off of the main streets, and if it wasn’t for Meimei, I would never even think about venturing in here. She loves to read up on food blogs and searching for new places to go on food adventures, so going out to eat with her is always fun!

On our way to 三本味 we also came across quite a few hidden gems. The area nearby is full of Japanese restaurants. I haven’t had sushi or been to an izakaya in a while, but I know where to look now!

Now for some brief introduction of 三本味 before I talk about the food: this place is found through word of mouth or through online searches because of its location. However, also because of its location, rent is probably cheaper and therefore it’s not as pricey as most places in 東區 (this area of Taipei, known for its expensive things because rent is so high). This is also a family-run business and what really brings customers back time and time again is the exceptionally friendly service. They really love what they do, and that makes a big difference between good and GREAT. Oh right, I should also mention that if you’re thinking of paying this place a visit to make a reservation! It can get quite packed. I wasn’t able to make a reservation because I called in 3 days ahead, but they put me down on a special list because I called ahead, so we didn’t wait too long for a seat (~10 minutes). The place isn’t big and can fit about 30 people at one time. The spacing between tables is perfect in that it does not feel overly crowded, and there is a lot of room to move around comfortably. When we were seated, the owner introduced himself to the customers and listed off the secret menu items for the day. He is a really warm and welcoming person, and very approachable. He came by our table a couple of times to ask how we were doing, and personally seared the sushi for us.

This one was on the secret menu – seared sea bream nigiri sushi (4/5):

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I love seared sushi, and I’ve never had seared sea bream before so it was interesting. The texture was a bit on the chewy side, but it was very flavourful and doesn’t need soy sauce for extra flavouring.

Next is another secret menu item – beef fried rice (4/5):

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This dish was big, and I don’t recommend it if you don’t have four people or if you’re planning to try out more dishes (because it’s filling!) The rice was delicious though, and the rice that they use here is a high quality rice.

Next up, the best dish at this restaurant – Seared salmon and cheese nigiri (5/5):

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The owner personally seared this in front of us. First, he seared the salmon, then he placed a slice of cheese on top and seared the cheese until it bubbled. It was absolute umami. To top it off, it was sprinkled with rose salt. Yum! I must have this again! This was Meimei’s favourite dish of the night. The fish that they use in this restaurant are all very fresh as well.

Next up, the assorted sashimi (4/5):

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This sashimi platter originally came with hamachi, but as none of us liked hamachi, we asked them to switch it. I’m not exactly sure what fish it was switched for, but it was good. Fresh fish (including  on a huge bowl of ice to make sure it stays fresh. Delicious and also very pleasing to look it. I like this restaurant’s attention to details.

The steak dish (3.5/5):

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The steak was stir-fried with onions, mushrooms, and yellow and red bell peppers. The meat was not too tough, and had just the right amount of chewiness to it.

Chicken wings topped with a fish roe dressing (3/5):

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I usually don’t enjoy eating wings because I don’t like to get my hands dirty, but I’ve never had fish roe dressing with wings before so we decided to give them a try. Yep, they made my hands dirty, but they were pretty tasty! The fish roe/mayo dressing wasn’t my favourite though (I think the wing itself was marinated well) as I found it to be a bit too heavy.

And our last dish of the day was grilled mackerel (5/5):

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This fish was absolutely amazing!! It was one of the best fish I have ever had. The meat was soft, and the fat under the skin melted into the oil and flavoured the meat deliciously.

I plan to take grandma to this restaurant next time. She loves Japanese food as well, and I think she’ll enjoy this place just as much as I did. I have a feeling that the fish will be her favourite dish. :)

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Nao Sushi

I would pass by Nao Sushi whenever I visited JL’s house, but it never struck me as a restaurant I would like to go try because it was not conspicuous and I have never heard anyone talk about it. However, MilkTea has always wanted to try it out, and after asking around, it seemed like Nao Sushi was actually quite popular! Apparently it’s known for having delicious and authentic Japanese food (since it’s a Japanese-run restaurant), albeit on the pricier side.

Exterior of Nao Sushi

Right off the bat, I wanted to try their cream cheese roll. They call it the JB roll here. I hope that it doesn’t stand for Justin Bieber.

JB Roll – $3.50
5/5

The roll was very small, but each piece was bite-size which was nice. The cream cheese was soft and the flavour blended well with the smoked salmon. Smoked salmon and cream cheese, two of my favourites in one sushi. Mmm~ :)

Alaska Roll – $3.95
4/5

Sushi Garden’s Alaska rolls are still my favourite. This Alaska roll was again, smaller than what I’m used to, but the ingredients tasted delicious and fresh, and the avocado was soft and ripe.

Salmon Sashimi – $9.80
5/5

Sashimi Salad
5/5

Nao Sushi serves delicious sashimi salad. JL always orders a sashimi salad whenever we go to a Japanese restaurant, so I have tried sashimi salad from Suika, Sushi garden, Guu, and now Nao Sushi. Nao’s sashimi salad is different in that it’s topped with tortilla chips, which adds a crunch to the salad. This salad is pretty filling and for one person, it would probably constitute half a meal.

Ichi Roll – $8.50
4/5

The Ichi Roll is one of Nao Sushi’s special rolls and consists of crab, tobico, scallop, tamago, and avocado all wrapped in rice and rice paper instead of nori. It was my first time having a sushi that used rice paper instead of seaweed, but the rice paper didn’t have much flavour. The filling was good, and I could taste the crab.

Dragon Roll – $6.50
5/5

This special roll was eel topped with avocado. I thought that the avocado and sauce combo on top of the sushi looked beautiful. This tasted better than the Ichi Roll, and the avocado was perfect.

Seared Toro (top) – $1.80 & Seared Hamachi – $2.70
4/5 & 2/5

MilkTea has never had seared nigiri before, so we ordered the toro and hamachi. The nigiri had a bit of wasabi between the fish and the rice, and I liked the toro better than the hamachi.

Chicken Kamameshi
4/5

Chicken Kamameshi (inside)

Kamameshi is a Japanese rice dish cooked in an iron pot. It came in a cute little pot, and there was a little rice paddle included as well to scoop the rice into a bowl. There were pieces of chicken, and carrots and snow peas. Overall it was a very healthy rice dish, not too oily, but it lacked a bit of flavour.

Asari Sakamushi
4/5

Asari Sakamushi are asari clams steamed with Japanese sake. It’s simple, yet delicious. The clams did not have a fishy taste, and the broth that the clams were steamed in tasted great as well. It’s the perfect dish to order on a cold winter day.

I would definitely go back to Nao Sushi again. Next time I want to try their lunch specials!

The Good:
– Great tasting food
– Delicious sashimi salad
– Wonderful service

The Bad:
– It’s not exactly cheap, but the quality makes up for it
– Small portions, so you have to order quite a lot to get full

Nao Sushi on Urbanspoon

Miku

Japanese cuisine has always been one of my favourites. I have tried many Japanese restaurants and had sushi, sashimi, and tapa dishes. But I have never once tried pressed sushi. After hearing about Miku from MilkTea that they serve very good pressed sushi, I decided to pay Miku a visit.

Mochi and I went to Miku on a Wednesday night. I made reservations the night before for 7pm. When we arrived, the place was packed. The interior of the restaurant was very modern, and it was quite large inside. The lights gave everything a purple glow.

Miku Interior

Even though we made reservations for 7pm, it didn’t look like we were going to be getting a table anytime soon. While we were waiting, the man at the bar asked us if we would like anything to drink, which we declined.

Miku's bar

I enjoyed watching the servers make drinks at the bar though, and at one point while we were waiting, a beer bottle was accidentally tipped by the server before the cap was taken off, and it bubbled over. Since she couldn’t serve that bottle anymore (she had to open a new one), she gave that beer to us for free. :) I thought that was very nice of her, but I hope it wasn’t my staring that caused her to become nervous and tip it over in the first place.. ><

Free beer!

After waiting for over 30 minutes, we were finally seated at a table. The service was very good though, and they apologized many times for the long wait. Those who had no reservations were told that they would have to wait for two hours! At first I wasn’t going to make a reservation, since it was Wednesday night.. but I’m glad I did.

Mochi really liked to eat beef carpaccio, so we ordered their gyu tataki to start. Of course I also ordered the aburi salmon oshi sushi, their signature dish. We also ordered an una-kyu roll (eel roll).

The first dish that arrived was the gyu tataki:

Gyu Tataki - $18
5/5

The server introduced each dish upon presentation. This beef tataki is made from Alberta beef, drizzled with a sauce made from ponzu, yuzu kosho, grated daikon, and topped with green onion. Each piece of beef was fresh and chewy. The sauce drizzled over it was sour and balanced well with the beef. Delicious!

Next up was the aburi salmon oshi sushi:

Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi - $10
5/5

Now I understand why everybody raves about Miku’s pressed sushi.. especially this dish. It was hands down one of the best sushi I have ever had! There were six pieces in an order. This sushi had a piece of salmon in between the rice, topped off with more salmon sashimi, drizzled with their very own Miku sauce, and topped with jalapeno. Unlike most Japanese restaurants, Miku’s sushi does not require soy sauce. It tastes fabulous just on its own. Even the rice was tasty; it was cooked and seasoned perfectly. The jalapeno was not too spicy, and the sushi itself tasted warm (being just seared) and melted in my mouth.

The last dish to arrive was the Una-kyu roll:

Una-Kyu Roll $10
2/5

This roll wasn’t all that special, and after having the aburi salmon sushi, this roll was not too exciting in comparison. The sushi is made with barbequed fresh water eel tempura, cucumber, topped with seven spice salt, and flavoured with unagi sauce. The eel tasted a bit rubbery but everything was fresh, and again the sushi rice was excellent. However, for the same price as the previous dish, I wouldn’t mind getting another plate of the aburi salmon oshi sushi!

After dining here, I finally understood why we had to wait so long for a table. The food here was served one dish at a time, unlike most places which serve everything almost all at once. They also introduce the food, with a detailed description of everything.

Pro’s:

– Great service
– Great food (especially the pressed salmon sushi!)
– Nice ambiance

Con’s:

– Long wait time
–  Pricey, but worth it

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sushi Oyama

Sushi Oyama, located in a beautifully furnished two story building at 5152 Kingsway Burnaby, appears beautiful and welcoming upon first sight. According to sis, this place used to be a funeral home back in the old days.. Which adds some mystery and lore to the place.

Beyond the wooden doors, the interior of the restaurant does not disappoint. The wooden decor and furnishing matched up perfectly to this restaurant’s elegant exterior.

Interior of Sushi Oyama

The staff were friendly and seated us immediately. It helped that it wasn’t busy since it was Monday, just a bit after 12pm. I was craving for sashimi so I ordered a tuna & salmon sashimi (9pcs). M decided on an assorted sushi lunch combo, which is basically just the assorted sushi combo plus miso soup and salad. We also ordered a special roll, the smoked salmon cream cheese roll (8pcs).

The service here was fast and efficient. Within minutes of taking the order, the miso soup and salad arrived.

Miso soup and salad

The soup was flavourful and had just the right amount of salt, unlike some places where their miso soups are just way too salty. The salad was fresh and really tasty. It was a great appetizer thanks to the sour sauce that was drizzled on the salad.

Tuna & Salmon Sashimi (9pcs) $8.50

There were 5 pieces of tuna and 4 pieces of salmon. The salmon sashimi were smaller than the tuna sashimi. They tasted very fresh and satisfied my sashimi craving.

Assorted Sushi Combo $11.99

This one took the longest to arrive.. probably because there are so many different things to prepare. This combo comes with 1/2 roll Tuna, 1/2 roll Salmon, and 1 piece each of ebi, tuna, salmon, ika, amaebi, hokkigai, tako and chopped scallop nigiri sushi’s. It was apparent that the hokkigai wasn’t fresh (the colour was not bright red but instead a dull red-brown colour). Other than that, the sushi’s were delicious.

Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Roll (8pcs) $4.90

Last but not least, the special roll. This smoked salmon cream cheese roll has, as the name suggests, smoked salmon and cream cheese. There is also red pepper, mango and crab meat. They gave a generous serving of cream cheese. Everything went well together in this roll. I couldn’t really taste the mango since it wasn’t really sweet. Otherwise, it tasted really good. I want to try more of their special rolls next time!

I would rate this restaurant 9/10 for good service, nice ambiance, and yummy food. Will definitely be going back!

Sushi Oyama on Urbanspoon

Bakudanyaki

I went to try bakudanyaki with M at Richmond yesterday!!! It is like a giant takoyaki ball except that inside there are many many ingredients like egg, potato, calamari and corn.

Bakudanyaki in a cute take-out box

M got the sushi cone with “scallop chop chop” and salmon sashimi. It was really good too! There was a lot of filling in the sushi cone. The ingredients also tasted very fresh. :)

M's sushi cone

We actually stumbled upon the place quite randomly one day.. because it’s located in such an inconspicuous location (a parking lot to be exact) beside Bridgeport skytrain station. It isn’t a restaurant either but rather more like a trailer. It was a fun eating experience!! They also sold ramen and sushi cones in the two other stalls too.

Bakudanyaki store front

Ramen store front

Dining area

I took all of these pictures from my new cellphone! : ) I finally changed my phone!! I am using an LG breeze now. Quite a large upgrade from my old and basic Samsung.

Second term has official started and right now I don’t feel the pressure at all.. I actually feel like I have too much time on my hands sometimes. However, I do feel pressure from work as I’m trying to look for a new job. Not that my old one isn’t good but because I want to find something a bit less physically demanding.. (Making frozen yogurt is a lot tiring than it seems!)

I’m looking forward to Chinese new year. My mom will be coming to visit for a week! :) My sister and I plan to take her out to eat a lot of good food. I can’t wait~ Hope the weather will cooperate!