Submitted Monday, November 8, 2010 - 10:49pm [Dine in]
One could, if so inclined, try a different sushi bar every night for two weeks in the stretch from W Esplanade to 21st Street and Lonsdale. Not that I recommend it. For the most part it's a disappointing hop-scotch between cheap-and-cheerful and novelty rolls. That might explain why Gen (cheap) and Aka-Tombo (cutsie sushi) regularly win the local weekly paper's annual 'Best of' awards; people here simply haven't experienced anything better. Happily, however, for those who prefer quality over quantity and authenticity over artifice, Hachi Hana is an outstanding exception to the foregoing rule. The ambiance is, to put it kindly, utilitarian, and the servers can be a tad harried when it's full, which it usually is, but Hachi Hana stands out where it truly counts: in the quality, preparation and presentation of sushi and sashimi. Sushi is all about simple, fresh, proportion, contrast and subtlety. No tatami rooms, no paper walls, no deferential hostesses: you can get those in Vancouver...or Japan. But if you want sushi that competes with anything across the water, try them. You won't be disappointed.
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Submitted Saturday, November 6, 2010 - 2:51pm [Dine in]
You would expect that in the 20+ years since Josh folded the Ruma Bali we'd have seen at least one or two newcomers fill the void with excellent Indonesian cuisine. Spice Islands, you say? Sorry, but in truth it serves up among the least interesting and well-made food of any sort I have ever overpaid for. Perhaps the other reviewers have never experienced the utter pleasure great Indonesian dishes. Spice Islands' rijstaffel in particularly is a sorry affair, an inexcusable lapse in style, variety and execution in Indonesia's 'national dish.' Imported lettuce lathered with a sickly sweet peanut dressing, two skewers of pork satay (I knew it was pork because the server told me), and three tapas-size dishes of meat: beef in what tasted like Bull's Eye BBQ sauce, chicken bits drowned in tepid fenugreek-laden milk, and sambal prawns with the texture of octopus. For $35. Krupuk extra. I have never paid more for less in over 50 years of searching out worthy Indonesian food. And I should mention...small, crowded and drafty, '70's rumpus room ambiance, and service bordering on obsequious. Given their location in the city I expect they'll do well.
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