Recently, we took a visit down to Shima-Ya Sushi, after hearing so many good things about it. The storefront looks unassuming and plain, so it was easy to miss during your first visit. Once we entered the restaurant, however, the atmosphere felt warm and welcoming – almost like coming home.
The decoration inside is simple, with wooden tables, soft music, Japanese knick-knacks, and a modest sushi counter. A quick look suggests that this place is run by an old Japanese couple, which reminds me of Sushi Hachi in Richmond. Our server promptly seats us and regularly provides us with refills of their hot tea.
The menu holds authentic and classic Japanese dishes, but with a different twist compared to the standard sushi place. They offer miso soups cooked with Nameko mushrooms, fishbone soups (with fish that’s dependent on their Daily Specials), Futo Maki rolls, and an assortment of donburi, nigiri, rolls, cones, and udon noodle soups.
The most important thing to do when you first arrive is to take a look at their Daily Specials menu on the left wall (near the sushi counter). There, we found several additional menu options to order from.
We begin our meal with a Madai Bone Soup and an Aji Bone Soup, which are both light, yet flavourful, clear broths. There is a nice, deep umami flavour from the fish and dashi that tastes fresh and comforting.
Next came the BBQ Salmon Kama and Ika Shiso Ume Roll. The three pieces of salmon came hot, and the fish was flakey and had nice, crispy skin. While the meat was slightly on the dry side, I still thoroughly enjoyed the addition to our table.
The Ika Shiso Ume Roll consists of cooked squid, wrapped with shiso leaf and Japanese sour plum in a roll. If you’ve ever had sesame leaf or mint, shiso has a similar flavour profile. It has a vibrant, refreshing, citrusy flavour. Along with the sourness and saltiness of the pickled plum and the soft chew of the squid leg, there is a good textural contrast.
The rest of the Whole Aji arrived to the table, along with our Saba Battera and handpicked nigiri. When we first ordered, we were offered a choice on what size we would like our fish to be. For a small mackerel, we could get a combination of 6 sashimi, 6 nigiri, or 3 sashimi and 3 nigiri, plus our soup that came earlier. All of the fish tasted so fresh and delicious, with their own unique flavours. The Aji had ginger and green onion on top of each to balance the strong fish flavour of the meat.
When I picked up a piece of the Saba Battera, there seems to be a slight imbalance of rice to fish (there was a bit more rice overall). I wasn’t disappointed, however, seeing as to how nice and mellow the fish tasted. While it isn’t as delicate as some places, it does give me a sense of comfort when I eat it, as if my own mother made it for me.
My favourite part of this plate, however, was the Toro, because oh man… that toro just dissolved in my mouth! We left it for last, since it’s my absolute favourite, and it was already melting onto the plate. It was one of the richest, fattiest pieces of toro I’ve had in a while. Pure heaven.
There was also a piece of Anago (saltwater eel) nigiri on a side plate. I wanted to try it because it’s uncommon to find on a typical sushi menu here. The texture and flavour was meatier, softer, and more like you’re eating fish compared to having unagi (freshwater eel).
If you’re a sashimi fan like me, then their Chirashi Don will blow you away. It’s more expensive, sitting at $22.00, but that’s mainly because of the quality and variety of sushi you get. The arrangement is beautiful, and the freshness and aesthetic is similar to the bowls served in Tokyo. You get a fat prawn, ika (squid), salmon, tuna, tamago, saba, fish roe, etc. Totally worth the price tag. Next time, though, when I feel like splurging more, I’d want to order their Deluxe Chirashi, which I know I’ll absolutely love as well.
I always have a soft spot for unagi.. so yeah, of course I had to get a bowl of their Mini Unagi Don. I was expecting the meat to be softer, but it had more of a chew to it instead. The tamagoyaki (a rolled egg omelette) is lightly sweet, and you can still taste the dashi that’s mixed with the egg. The rice was smothered in the unagi sauce, so overall, it was generally one-noted and sweet, although still quite satisfying.
The best part of the entire meal, though, is definitely the most unexpected for me. We get two of their Geso (squid leg) nigiri, which had a good amount of squid on each, and half an order of Futo Maki.
The Futo Maki was crazy good! It’s the most comforting and satisfying version I’ve had up to date – packed full of rice, tamago, mushrooms, spinach, and ume. The roll is similar to a Korean Kimbap roll, though less savoury in comparison. In each mouthful, there is a good blend of sweet and sour from the mushrooms, eggs, and ume. The relief in the boiled spinach also prevents flavour fatigue by diluting the sweetness of the roll.
To finish up our meal, we order an Anmitsu to share. The red bean on top is firm and sweet, and the canned fruit is.. well, it’s canned fruit, but it’s how it’s traditionally made. The jelly varies in colour, and isn’t as firm as the one I’ve had before. Subtle flavours and softer textures, and not too sweet I might add. I really liked this version, and I found that it was a great way to end a fantastic meal.
- Quality, fresh sashimi
- Check the Daily Specials
- dat Futo Maki.
- Homey atmosphere
- Pricier than standard sushi
- Variety in menu
- Authentic Japanese eats
5589 Victoria Dr
Vancouver, V5P 3W2
Wed – Sun 5:00pm – 9:00pm