Sushimoto, Burnaby

I remember when sushi was still a “new” thing to the Vancouver dining scene in the early 1990s. There weren’t too many places that offered it and, where they did, they’d also have a broad range of other dishes like tempura, udon noodles and teriyaki. Since then, sushi has really exploded and this city, thanks in part to our wonderful supply of fresh seafood, has become quite the raw fish kind of town.

And one of the best sushi restaurants that you may have never heard of is Sushimoto, located just beneath the Holdom Skytrain station in Burnaby.

The menu at Sushimoto is, understandably, focused on sushi. And as is the fashion these days, it aims to find that delicate balance between an authentic Japanese sushi experience and a more modern take on the tradition with extra fancy rolls. This mirrors the trend that we see in places like Sushiholic around the city. You get a pleasant mix of the old and the new in an environment that encourages the consumption of beer and sake.

The decor offers a similar blend of personality, combining a lot of prominent wood grain with kitschy display cases housing a variety of figurines and action figures. But really, it’s about the food. For New Year’s Eve a few weeks back, Susanne and I decided to have dinner at Sushimoto and here is what we ordered.

Sushimoto, Burnaby

Soft Shell Crab Roll

I have a soft spot (terrible pun intended) in my heart for soft shell crab. You get a sizable portion of crispy crab in this rendition and it’s all drizzled by some Japanese mayo and (I think) unagi sauce. Terrific.

Sushimoto, Burnaby

Aburi Salmon Belly and Toro Steak Steak Nigiri

My first time having aburi sushi was at Miku Restaurant. Torching the fish offers an entirely different texture and flavor profile. The version at Sushimoto isn’t nearly as heavily torched as at Miku, so the smokiness is not as pronounced.

Sushimoto, Burnaby

Seared Saba

Most people think of mackerel (saba) as a fish that is particularly oily and overly salty. And it can be when you don’t get quality stock. The saba at Sushimoto, on the other hand, is perfectly balanced, giving just enough salinity to accompany the slightly smoky aroma. I’d say this was my favorite of the night.

Sushimoto, Burnaby

Las Vegas Roll

One of the two “special maki” we ordered, the Las Vegas Roll is a dynamite roll topped with spicy tuna, green onion, spicy mayo and spicy sauce. The prawn tempura could have been fried a little longer for a bigger crunch and the spicy sauce could have more of a kick. Otherwise, this is a good combination.

Sushimoto, Burnaby

Volcano Roll

The other “special maki” takes a California roll and bumps it up a notch with chopped scallop, green onion, miso-infused mayonnaise and spicy sauce. Since I couldn’t get my aburi hotate (scallop), we got this special roll instead. While it didn’t exactly “erupt” with flavor, this is another one of those fancy rolls that offers a slightly more modern experience.

Sushimoto, Burnaby

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The total bill came to just over $50 for the two of us, including taxes and gratuity after redeeming the 5% discount we had earned from the loyalty stamp card. Considering that substantially worse sushi at an all-you-can-eat place will run you upwards of $30 a person, I’d say that eating at Sushimoto is a far wiser decision.

And if you’re ever out this way for lunch, get the lunch special chirashi don. At $9, it’s one terrific deal.