Culture Shock is a curious thing. And it's odd that white North Americans seems to be particularly susceptible to it. Case in point, I even got Culture Shock going to England. Pathetic, I know. Going to places like Asia after living in Canada your whole life must absolutely blow your mind.
The most simplistic description of the difference between Asian and North American cultures is in the term "Hot and Noisy". This is used to describe that sort of hypercolour energy, flashing lights and noise in places such as Hong Kong. Just think of something like the flashing signs and buzz of Tokyo. But while we might find something "hot and noisy" unpleasant and downright uncomfortable, Asian cultures consider this ideal for something like a shopping plaza, party (calling a party hot and noisy is a compliment to the host in some instances), and even the layout of a website. I'm over simplifying this whole concept of course, but that the gist of what I find a very interesting difference between there and here.
If there is one perfect description of The Eatery (3431 West Broadway), it is that it is fantastically hot and noisy. Decorated like the interior of an arcade, full of giant cartoon characters, modern art and black light. Pumped full of music you would normally place more in a night club than a restaurant. Full of trendy college kids and twenty-somethings laughing, hugging, having a great time. It's sort of like if Chuck -e-Cheese grew up and started raving. I was there with some family for my Mother-in-laws birthday. We were a mix of ages, but I think it worked as both by parents in law are downright cool, and love a good time. Maybe don't bring your Grandmother who can't stand noise.
The waitresses are very relaxed yet energetic and full of good recommendations. The menu is huge, full of funky titles like Fat Elvis, Andy Warhol, Love Boat, etc. It can get a little overwhelming so ask for help. Muddle through this giant menu and you could be there all night. The highly recommended Tuna Tempura was amazing; soft, delicate tuna wrapped in light crisp batter drizzled in a little sauce and a smattering of green onion. This is fish fingers in the Land of Perfect. If you eat nothing else here, eat one of these.
We went a little crazy on the ordering (I won't mention what the bill was!). I have to say though that I was expecting some sort of crazy presentation or something to go with the general decor and feel of the place. It was really presented in a pretty traditional Japanese manner, which is always nice. I had thought from the build-up that it would be suspended from the ceiling on a trapeze or something, but it was just your traditional Vancouver style sushi, with a few taste twists.
My final impression was that I had wished that our server had wrapped us up a little faster. We found that we were waiting for our bill for a few minutes longer than we would have liked. Also, for such a fun place, I was really surprised that they didn't do anything with the Birthday that was happening at our table. When I booked, I mentioned that it was for a birthday, and there were obviously presents and stuff being opened. There wasn't even a "happy birthday" from the waitress, or a little free thing, or anything. I don't think you book a restaurant for a birthday expecting free stuff or anything, all I'm saying is that sometimes it's nice when they make a little bit of a fuss over the birthday boy or girl.
I think that The Eatery would be a great place to start out someone who has never eaten sushi or thinks it's not for because it's too stuffy. It really liked the atmosphere for a young crowd, or a party. Not for a sombre occasion or a romantic meal perhaps, although I'm considering holding my wake there if it's still open at the time of my eventual and unfortunate demise. I rather like the idea of my final send off being attended by a giant paper Astro Boy.
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