The crazy boys over at VANEATS.ca have connected again with Suika Snackbar to bring us a $35 tasting experience complete with cocktails. I absolutely love eating here. The room is always full and full of action, there’s bound to be a birthday party which means the staff perform a birthday song with all the theatrics, and the food is divine. I sit at the bar with views into the kitchen and of the entire room which just reeks of a good time!
Suika means watermelon so when faced with the decision on the Magical Mojito Pitcher that comes with the package we choose watermelon instead of pomegranate or aloe. The bartender added a generous amount of alcohol; this wasn’t any watery attempt at skimping on booze that I often find in pitchers of drinks. I rarely order my drink in a pitcher in fact, but here I recommend you go for it and throw caution to the wind. Just don’t try this with Wolowidnyk at West; it may not go over so well.
First up was the Steak Salad, marinated AAA beef filet steaks grilled to perfection and served atop organic greens with watercress, shaved beets and radish. A nice zippy citrus dressing brought the salad together.
Next up Salmon Battera, a salmon sushi with sockeye salmon, salmon caviar, spicy cod roe mayo, Japanese basil, avocado and shiso appeared and was quickly gobbled up by myself and my two dinner companions.
The Ma-Po Rice Cake completed the package. A deep friend rice cake with spicy ground pork sauce, this dish has an interestingly chewy texture, but one I approved of and then afterwards crave. The sauce is delicious, full of pork and just the right amount of spice.
Birthday party dinner theatre.
Since there was three of us we were still a bit peckish and therefore went for the tasty miso-glazed cod, some melting good and uber fresh tuna sahima and a bowl of their intensely flavoured oxtail ramen noodle soup with soya broth and fish powder and scallions on top. I could eat this daily and not get tired of it. A must try for any noodle-soup fan.
Suika has partnered again with the boys at VANEATs.ca (see the previous one) for a promotion called #SuikaToMe, an $18 menu running from February 15 – March 31. While Suika is not overly pricey to begin with, this four course menu is an absolute steal. The menu consists of salmon carpaccio, beef filet steak, oxtail ramen soup and the grand finale, pumpkin creme brulee.
I’ve learned to loved the bustling interior and loud shouting out of orders at Izakayas around town, of which there now are many. I wasn’t necessarily adverse to the dining experience at first, but as our kitchen growing up (actually our entire house) was usually a fairly quiet place, and almost all the restaurants we dined at as well, this was a change, but not an unwelcome one (not as strange as the first time karaoke materialized around me as a university student, but that’s a whole other story).
My point here is that Suika is a bustling hustling spot. Great for first dates or a night out with friends, but perhaps not the place to take your elderly grandmother, especially one a bit hard of hearing. The atmosphere is festive and tables fill up fast, so come early and expect to hear your dining neighbours, the servers and kitchen staff and don’t, for god sake, try to negotiate a business deal here, or propose marriage.
There are several sections to Suika, and my favourite spot is the bar, where I can watch both the assembly of drinks and keep my eye on the kitchen and the dishes coming out of there. Towards the back, there is a somewhat separate area, which you could easily fit a group of twenty into, and at the front section of the room one wall houses a banquette, and the floor is scattered with deuces and fours, or combinations thereof. Check out the funky light fixtures, such as the sake-bottle chandelier.
We went on a Sunday night around 7 pm and the place was buzzing as I expected. I ventured out with Diane Chow of Fabulously Frugal, a website dedicated to deals around town and one you should check out if you are looking for bargains. The thing about being a “foodie” is sometimes your non-‘”foodie” friends get a little tired of “wait until the picture is taken”, “wait, wait….let me just pull that apart and delve deeper”, “hold it, is your piece chewy?”, “no you can’t order that because I am and we HAVE to have something different”, etc. This, combined with the fact that we are often all out as the same events, has lead to some new “foodie” friends that I have bonded with and like to dine alongside. Hence, my dinner with Ms. Chow.
This particular night we were invited to try out the deal by the folks at VanEats, so the only choices were drinks, I tried a couple of the cocktails and Diane went for some tea.
First up was a Hamachi Carpaccio (the deal version is Salmon, but it’s done in the same manner). As all fish I’ve sampled at Suika, this version was uber-fresh. The white flesh was served on a sesame dressing, and topped wasabi mayo, fish roe, radiccio, scallions and yuzu zest, a good combination of flavours. Enjoyable, but I think that sometimes the real essence of the fish gets lost with all the dressing, so I would have preferred a little lighter hand with the sauces.
Next our server brought out two hot stones, sizzling and spattering with aromas of meat and garlic. The AAA beef-filet steak came with a soy onion sauce and was tender and tasty. The fresh garlic chips atop the meat where an added bonus, I wanted more! On the side were potato wedges sprinkled with shichimi spices, but while they were nicely fried and crunchy, there had been a rather excessive amount of salt added.
At this point I felt that the last thing I could ingest would be a bowl of ramen, but the Tokyo Oxtail Ramen that Suika has become famous for arrived and the aroma alone suggested to my stomach to make some room for the dish. The restaurant slow-braises the oxtail until it almost melts and then drops it atop the noodles into the house-made soy broth, topping it with dried fish powder & scallions. The ramen noodles had some chewiness left to them, suggesting they are added as they should be almost right before service. The entire experience of the flavourful bowl will be one I will repeat often.
There is still a dessert course left once you’ve filled up on the irresistible broth, but as they say, there is one stomach for dinner and another for dessert, so according to this theory there should be room. Unfortunately I have not been blessed with this second stomach, but I would have ate more of the Pumpkin Creme Brulee, if only I could have. Tap your spoon through the caramelized surface and you’ll discover a smooth custard with a hint of pumpkin flavour. Perhaps I’ll return and start with dessert.
Suika To Me is a Deal you shouldn’t miss. It’s a great way to try out Suika if you haven’t yet, and a incredible value for both newcomers and repeat customers.