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