Archive for April, 2011

April 21, 2011

Nori Japanese Restaurant – Sean’s Review (aka “He said”)

by HeSaid

We walk through the doors of Nori to a chorus of cheers from the sushi bar. I get the feeling that they’re excited to cook for us, one I’m about to realize was probably delirium caused by mild hypoglycemia.

The first thing I notice at our table is the metal chopsticks. The second thing I notice is a bit of mung on one of them. I’m not sure if it’s food or a booger. I ponder it before wiping it off.

The green tea they bring is tasty. It’s also, sadly, lukewarm. I find their inability to heat water disconcerting but decide to chalk it up to apathy rather than incompetence.

Nori has a great selection of bento boxes priced between $9 and $12. I put in an order of gyoza and a beef teriyaki box.

The miso arrives. It’s tasty enough, but it lacks the complexity of flavour I’ve found in other miso. The giant metal spoon is a definite turn-off; something I’d expect from a greasy diner, not a traditional Japanese eatery.

The gyoza come with an unfamiliar dipping sauce. They’re small, and stale, and I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m getting somebody’s leftovers. Just as I’ve choked back a couple of dumplings, the boxes arrive tableside.

The bento boxes at Nori are huge, awkwardly so. I hate feeling crowded when I eat so I quickly force down the rest of the gyoza to make room on the table. I scoop up the meager portion of wasabe and dump it into my soya dish. It’s at this point that I really regret the metal chopsticks. As I mix the wasabe paste, it sounds like Freddy Krueger is dragging his claws down a chalkboard.

The teriyaki beef tastes of shame and dishonour. I drown it in soya sauce and cram it in my maw with a lack of enthusiasm I usually reserve for breakfast cereal and cheezy puffs. The California roll is less like sushi and more like Elmer’s glue rolled in papiermâché. The tempura is greasy and hard to eat. Each bite of my bento box is another step down the road of disappointment.

Nori does very well on Urban Spoon, but I think those people probably haven’t eaten at other Japanese restaurants. Unless they threaten sepuku, I won’t be going back anytime soon.

Food or Fail rating: Fail

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April 21, 2011

Nori Japanese Restaurant – Alex’s review (aka “She said”)

by SheSaid

Walking through the doors at Nori we’re greeted with the classic shouts of “Irasshaimase!” from the chefs behind the counter (actual Japanese.  Good sign.)  It’s a nice enough looking space, traditionally sparse with an interesting detail: the chopsticks on the table are some sort of metal (kinda slippery).  Auditory ambiance takes the form of adult/contemporary with a bit of light jazz.  All in all, it’s an exercise in contradictions, like most of the ethnic food in town.

The tagline at the bottom of the lunch menu promises “the most entertaining and attentive service possible.”  This promise, sadly, will be broken.

We arrive well after the lunch rush so, in the absence of rush, the energy in the place is downright slack.  Granted, our tea was served immediately and the miso soup followed quickly after we ordered but that’s where it ended.  From the rest of the service to the food to the clearing up and presenting the bill, I didn’t feel particularly attended to nor entertained.

The Gomae appetizer was adequate, a little green mound reminiscent of something from Ghostbusters (okay, that’s Sean’s joke).  It was a little colder than I like but otherwise the highlight of my meal.  The spinach is just a vehicle for the sesame paste sauce anyway so it’s a hard dish to screw up.

Normally I love a bento box: food tucked away in little compartments appeals to my Virgo sensibilities.  There were the usual suspects: green salad with sweet sesame dressing, vegetable tempura, a deep fried gyoza, four-piece California Roll, and four pieces of nigiri (salmon, tuna, ebi, snapper) for the main.  The tempura, a little greasy, was mostly sweet potato, and we had to ask for the dipping sauce which wasn’t much to speak of anyway.  The sushi roll was somehow grainy (?!)  On the up-side, the salad was great – I always love the green salad.

I have yet to eat a really good Japanese meal in Nanaimo.  Being from Vancouver, I guess I was spoiled by plentiful quantities of some of the best sushi in the world.  I’d heard that Nori was great, “the best in town”.  I don’t doubt that it is.  I think I’ll save my Japanese cravings for the mainland in the future.

Food or Fail Rating: Fail

April 14, 2011

Food or Fail

by HeSaid

Do you ever wonder who has the best pizza in Nanaimo?

I do.  I also wonder who has the best burger.  I wonder where I can get a good plate of Chinese food.  I wonder who’s sushi is ichi.

Some might say it’s a matter of taste,  I don’t think it is.  And I’m gonna prove it.

One restaurant at a time, I’m going to try them all.  Upscale eateries and down-and-dirty diners.  With the lovely Alex at my side, we’re going on a foody’s dream tour of the Island’s eateries to discover, once and for all, who’s cuisine reigns supreme.

As we eat, we’re gonna pass some righteous judgement.  Each stop will be evaluated and ranked based on arbitrary criteria that might include the colour of the carpets, the server’s haircuts, a lack of meat on the menu or whether they have any foursquare deals.

In the end, each will receive either a food or a fail.  There’ll be some best ofs, some worst ofs and a whole lot of in-betweens.

During our dining adventure, we’d like it if you joined us for the ride.  Follow us on twitter for real-time updates during our outings at twitter.com/foodorfail and make sure to check back here regularly for our reviews of food gone by and those yet to come.

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