WTH! Black Rice Izakaya – Poor Food Concepts

Badly Thought Out Food
At Black Rice Izakaya
Ugh, it was so wrong.
Looking for a pre Canucks game dinner, I decided on Black Rice Izakaya since it’s close to Rogers Arena.  The Teishoku set meals, only available at lunch, had lots of favourable reviews and the food seemed innovative.
Upon reviewing the dinner menu, they are $1 – $3 pricier than most of the Japanese restaurants in the immediate area.  Also can one call them self an izakaya if the majority of the menu items (fresh sheet included) are raw fish, sushi and stuff on sticks?

For our dinner, Speedy and I started with some meat skewers.  We got the Tsukune, and Beef & Mushroom kushi.


The chicken meatball was well seasoned and I did detect the onions but not the mushrooms.  The beef was tender and juicy but the use of the small brown beech mushrooms surprised me.  The small fungi were not really flavourful and didn’t add much to the kushi.


Speedy wanted something more substantial and ordered the Spicy Tiger Prawn and Bacon with Spicy Hot Stone Rice Bowl.  Modeled after the Korean dolsot bibimbop, the server mixed up the rice for us.  I only tried a few bites of rice and found it was a tad oily and spicy.  Oddly I didn’t smell or taste any of the bacon.
I was intrigued by the unique vegetarian Guacamole gunkan on the menu.  The guacamole tasted great and was very creamy.  Unfortunately it didn’t work as a gunkan.  Once you popped the piece into your mouth, the avocado mixture was a massive glob that overwhelmed everything.
You couldn’t taste the rice but could feel the grains floating around.  Once you ingested the bulk of the guacamole, one is left with a mass of gummy nori.  I didn’t like the experience of eating this westernized gunkan.
The mackeral in the Aburi Saba Hako was excellent.  Torching the fatty fish enhanced its flavour.  However, the box sushi was poorly constructed as I had a hard time picking up each piece.  I didn’t really notice the shiroita-kombu (planed vinegar seasoned white kombu) and originally thought the Yamagobo (pickled burdock root) was pickled carrots.


I get the chef wanted to added a sour component to the Hako to help cut down the fattiness of the Saba but I thought the crunchy texture of the burdock was too jarring.
I think the Black Rice Roll I ordered, containing pacific black cod (aka Sablefish), avocado, cream cheese and sweet bell peppers, offended me the most.  Prepare for the ranting.


Black cod is one of the few local ingredients that I feel epitomizes Vancouver.  Sablefish is served at many mid to high-end restaurants, at most Japanese and even Chinese eateries reflecting the city’s diversity.  It’s also a fish that can be consumed without a guilty conscience since it’s sustainable.  The fish is robust, buttery and flaky.  Even prepared in a mediocre fashion, the fish is still pretty tasty.
At most Japanese places, black cod is usually served baked or as sashimi, and takes centre stage since it’s so delicious.  I have never seen it in a roll. Usually when you name a menu item after your restaurant, it should represent the best the kitchen can offer.  I assumed this was how Black Rice was going to distinguish itself.
The Black Rice Roll is an ill-conceived hot mess of a food item.  All one tastes is cream cheese.  WHY BOTHER PUTTING SABLEFISH IN A ROLL IF YOU ARE GOING TO OBSECURE ITS WONDERFULNESS WITH TANGY CREAM CHEESE!
This roll is so confusing.  The cream cheese completely dominated all the other ingredients in the roll, even the sweet bell pepper.  This is the titular roll for the eatery and it utterly shows a lack of understanding of the ingredients used in it.  Why put ingredients in a dish if you don’t intend for those items to be tasted by the diner?
This was such a waste of a fantastic and rich fish.  If I wanted to taste & eat cream cheese I would have gone to a bagel shop.  If you haven’t guessed by now, I really disliked the Black Rice roll. So much so, that I probably won’t return to this restaurant based on this abomination.
When I go to a restaurant that charges a premium for its food, I expect well thought out and executed dishes.  Granted I probably picked the more unusual items but if you put it on the menu, you got to deliver.  The food I tried at Black Rice Izakaya is at best average to poor.
If you are looking for a pre-event dinner near the Rogers Arena or BC Place, go somewhere other than Black Rice.  For a cheaper and better-executed Japanese meal, I suggest Tsuki Sushi Bar  (they have the finesse to execute a delicious Uni chawanmushi).
Black Rice Izakaya
782 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2R5
778 379 0416

2 Comments Add yours

  1. grayelf says:

    Sounds like your meal was even worse than ours! We found the service abysmal as well. Agree with Tsuki as a much better choice, especially for the chawan mushi.


  2. Moyen Chow says:

    To be honest, I'm a bit surprised by the lack of execution and ill thought out food. Lots of good reviews for Black Rice Izakaya online. The service was lacklustre but was not a deal breaker for me as I'm use to a lower level of service.

    I think what annoyed me somewhat is I recently had a meal at Tsuki Sushi Bar. It was $15 cheaper, I got more well prepared food including a wonderful uni chawanmushi. Life of a food blogger, I wanted to go somewhere else and try new things.


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