Vancouver has some fantastic sushi places, so I’m always a little skeptical when hearing someone praise a sushi restaurant in most other cities (well, besides Japan). So, when I first heard about Sushi Sen, I had the same initial hesitation.
Located in Squamish, BC, the cooks are actually Japanese (good first sign!), and I’ve heard rumours that the owner used to have a restaurant in West Vancouver prior to this. I’ve now been to Sushi Sen a few times while passing through Squamish on the way home from Whistler, and have been quite satisfied with what they’ve had to offer (note that it’s only open for dinner, from Monday through Saturday).
The restaurant itself is within a strip mall in the Garibaldi Highlands area of Squamish, and was bustling with people each time I’ve been there. There are great little booths along one side, with kimonos used as wall hangings.
On the particular visit that I’m writing about here, I was with a friend of mine, and we decided to share a bunch of dishes in order to get to try more – plus, we were exceptionally hungry that day.
To start, we decided on some hot tea to drink, and perused the menu . There is a large variety of choices, including many combos – with rolls, sashimi, and dinner bento boxes or boats. The pricing at Sushi Sen is a bit on the higher side, but the fish is very fresh, and makes it all worth it to me! Plus, when choosing combos and sharing, a meal doesn’t necessarily come out to be too much.
That evening, we opted to get the Sushi Sen Boat for Two ($33). Plus a few more items in addition to that. As a starter to the boat, we each had a bowl of miso soup, with a side of shrimp sunomono. The miso soup itself wasn’t anything to write home about (and it’s hard to find anything wrong with it unless it’s just plain too salty), but it was probably comparable to that at a decent restaurant elsewhere. The sunomono was refreshing, as it should be, and had a good amount of shrimp over top.
Next up arrived the main portions of the two-person dinner – namely the deep fried items. The Oyster Motoyaki was a baked oyster covered in mayo, with spinach. Although I expect this to be quite salty and rich to begin with, I did find these morsels to be a bit too salty, and wouldn’t order them again.
The Chicken Karaage was great, on the other hand. There was a substantial amount of meat on the little drummettes, and it was served crisp and piping hot. It got to the point where we were fighting over who had to finish them at the end of the meal, as we were both so full. I somehow managed to pull it off though, since it was so good.
The Assorted Tempura included a couple of prawns, along with a variety of vegetables (including green beans, which I love and think should be served more often)!
Somewhere in between mouthfuls of deep-fried goodness, the boat came, carrying rolls and nigiri sushi. There were 2 pieces of tuna maki, 2 pieces of salmon, and 2 of cucumber, along with a California roll (albeit with fake crab), and 2 pieces each of sockeye salmon, tuna, and ebi (prawn) nigiri sushi. The tuna was so fresh and soft and delicious, and I loved the wild salmon as well – nothing farmed here! I was disappointed with the California roll, but did notice on their menu that they do have real crab available in some combos (and I’m guessing I could’ve substituted it for a price as well).
Although having the boat combo should’ve been enough (which included everything already mentioned above), our eyes were larger than our stomachs that night, and we also ordered a couple more sides.
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably noticed that I always get at least one piece of Amaebi, with the deep fried head if they have it available. This night was no exception, and I enjoyed my sweet prawn towards the end of the meal, with a little lemon squeezed over the crispy parts – having the eyes stare me down in the process never seems to be an issue for me.
While I wouldn’t exactly make a special 45 minute drive from Vancouver to try this restaurant, it’s a great little Japanese restaurant to go to if I’m ever passing through Squamish or spending the day nearby. The quality is high, the service is great (although I’ve noticed some complaints in other reviews that it’s slow), and I always leave satisfied. No need to dream that I’m somewhere else when I’m at Sushi Sen.
So do yourself a favour – next time you’re driving home from a day of skiing in Whistler, skip the fast food joints along the highway, and go in one street to hit Sushi Sen instead.