Vancouver colonized by paranormal sushi
Unbeknownst to most Vancouverites, the Georgia Straight's SBI (Sushi Bureau of Investigation) has noted a spike in encounters with paranormal sushi manifestations in the Kitsilano area over the past few months. Reports have come in about encounters with Spam sushi, rolls made with lobster or miso-marinated lamb, and even deep-fried rolls. What could be causing these mutations? Radiation leaks? Alien experiments? Perverted city-council policies?
Disturbed and intrigued, the S-Files' investigators, Amanda "Scully" Growe and Craig "Mulder" Takeuchi, set out to determine the cause of this culinary phenomenon–and, more importantly, to find out what it tastes like.
Sai-Z (3116 West Broadway, 604-732-7249) A tip from an anonymous informant led the investigators to Sai-Z, an upscale, multifloor Kitsilano venue with plenty of nooks and crannies for mutant sushi to hide in. Exploration of the sprawling premises exposed –gasp!–a roll without seaweed.
In lieu of nori, prosciutto held together the rice and other ingredients, which included papaya, eel, and cream cheese; the roll was arranged on a plate decorated with pesto and a house sauce. As disparate as the ingredients in the prosciutto roll ($8.50) were, they harmonized beautifully. Equally good was a tropical roll ($5.50) featuring mango, papaya, avocado, and lettuce. It flaunted a distinct, fresh flavour.
Most intriguing of all was the discovery of a seafood sushi pizza ($9): a breaded, deep-fried disk of rice topped with lox, shrimp, kaiware (a type of sprout), and black roe, and covered with mayonnaise and a spicy sauce. Due to gorgeous presentation and the delicious combination with the warm rice, the investigators were temporarily overcome.
Opera Sushi (1640 West Broadway, 604-737-1030) A sign proclaiming Home of the Black Sushi, a shop decorated with opera-record covers, and a Carmen DVD playing on the TV set the scene for paranormal sushi activity.
When the flaxy black chicken-teriyaki roll ($5.45) arrived, it wasn't black at all, but a mix of red and brown with an exterior coated in flax-seed powder (optional). Though healthy-tasting, the rice had a mushy consistency, in contrast to the dryness of the dusty flax powder. Scully didn't finish hers. Mulder ate all of his, though not without some difficulty.
A subsequent order of black sushi proved that its subtle nutty flavour and grainy texture make the "black rice" fine by itself, although the roll tended to fall apart. Perhaps the nori needs to be on the outside.
The Eatery (3431 West Broadway, 604-738-5298) The darkened interior of this funky establishment seemed like a prime breeding ground for mutant sushi. The menu features an overwhelming list of 32 different sushi "creations" with names like Andy Warhol, Drunken Monkey, Erotica roll, Tataki Attack, and X-Rated roll.
The deep-fried Viva Las Vegas roll ($6.95), with crab, eel, avocado, and cream cheese, was mesmerizing. The Tex Mex roll ($7.50) was notable for its creative presentation (cut into wedges and arranged in a circle with salsa in the centre) and its beguiling pairing of California-roll elements with a salsa made of tomato, avocado, roe, and salmon.
Less exciting were selections from the vegetarian part of the menu: the Popeye roll (spinach with peanut sauce; $3.75) and the Passionfruit roll (papaya, mango, yam, oshinko, cucumber, and age; $5.25). The fillings clashed and needed to be savoured individually.
Sushi Aoki (1888 West Broadway, 604-731-5577) The pair took on the mother of all mutant-sushi monsters: the Pink Godzilla roll ($7.25). A colleague recently captured by this beast ended up exhibiting signs of Stockholm syndrome.
But first, Mulder and Scully stumbled upon a Mediterranean roll ($5.50). In spite of an atypical combination of pine nuts, sun-dried tomato, basil, and sauerkraut, the roll's flavours were refreshing and distinct, and complemented the seaweed.
Then came the legendary mutant itself. Out of all the rolls, it was the most visually bizarre. Each of the six slices of the deep-fried tuna and teriyaki chicken roll was topped with a slice of kiwi fruit and a strawberry (fastened with a toothpick), with hot sauce and mayonnaise drizzled on top. Scully succumbed to its pleasures right away. Mulder resisted briefly, then relented. Alas, neither could stomach (groan) resisting the beast.
Will Mulder and Scully be able to stop these paranormal sushi perversions? Will the Pink Godzilla roll continue to pummel sushi lovers into submission? Will the pair get indigestion? Stay tuned, true believers–the sushi is out there.