Eating at The Eatery is a great choice for inventive sushi in urban, alternative surroundings. Young UBC students and families fill up the candle-lit room; the funky interior is decorated in edgy animation art. The Eatery, in my opinion, has some of the best, inexpensive new-age sushi in town. With names for maki rolls like the Erotica, the KFC, Viva Las Vegas, and the Andy Warhol roll, you know the ownerís edgy style will be reflected in the food.
The food served at the Eatery has a mix of mainstream Japanese dishes, along with some imaginative sushi at some very reasonable prices. One of the typical kitchen dishes that Iíve sampled were the boneless chicken karrage ($6.95), served with a side order of Caesar salad. The chicken was tasty and hot, served with a heavy ponzu sauce. The salad, though fresh, tasted of bottled Caesar dressing and didn't have much flavour.
The nabiyaki udon noodles ($7.50) came in a large bowl, the broth was rich and intense, full of perfectly cooked, slightly chewy udon noodles, tender chunks of chicken, bits of spinach, and a cooked egg. A side of tempura accompanies the the udon dish. The tempura was a little cold by the time it arrived at our table. The spicy tofu salad ($6.95) was bland despite the spiciness of the dressing, and I wasnít too keen on the tasteless lettuce they used.
The sushi, on the other hand, is the real artistic standout at The Eatery. My top picks include the crunchy Tuna Crunch roll ($3.95), the Yummy Yam roll ($3.95), and the Sweet Suji Roll #3 ($5.95) The Tuna Crunch is a glorious roll of tender raw tuna dazzled with bits of crunchy tempura bits, then etched with Japanese mayo, and sprinkled with little sesame seeds. The Yummy Yam roll is a more subtle roll than the other offerings, the yam inside is deep-fried with an enoke mushroom in its center. The majority of the times Iíve ordered this roll it came without the mushroom. The Sweet Sujji roll #3 contains two tempura prawns, a bit of a yam, sweet agge, and flying fish roe. The Popeye roll ($3.25) is a sugary roll, full of gomae spinach marinated in peanut sauce. The Mango Paradise roll is a nice combination of tropical fruit and ripe avocado ($4.50) nestled next to crisp cucumbers and agge (bean curd).
The Tataki Attack ($6.75) is an explosion of secondary colours, with crab, scallop, avocado, mayo, and seared albacore tuna. Neat rolls like the Andy Warhol, with mango, tuna, salmon, lettuce and mayo ($5.95) are more expressive in flavours and textures than I personally like. The KFC roll ($5.50) was a simple roll of crunchy marinated chicken with a bit of teriyaki sauce, adorned with avocado slices.
There are copious vegetarian alternatives to choose from, with vegetarian rolls with cream cheese or tropical fruits, and more imaginative alternatives than the standard cucumber or avocado rolls. I was nicknamed scurvy girl by my brother for a reason, so Iím afraid vegans are on their own for finding out the best vegetarian offerings.
Other winning dishes include the tuna sensation dishes. The marinated tuna ($5.75) was a unique splash of flavours, arriving in a special sauce of flying fish roe, sesame seeds and asparagus. The lovely tuna tempura ($6.50) are pieces of hot, lightly battered tuna tempura, with unagi, mayo and ponzu sauce. The seared tuna is also a good option, the outside seared slightly, with its own unusual set of sauces ($5.75).
The staff at The Eatery have always been helpful and receptive to inquiries I've had regarding the ingredients in the food. If you have any food allergy concerns or special dietary needs, check with the servers before ordering.
Reviewed by: Christine G. Louie
Last reviewed: May 21, 2005