May Be A Hit With The College Crowd, But…

Name: Okinawa Sushi
Where: Sudbury, ON
Cuisine: Japanese
Affordability: All You Can Eat – $13-$15 for Lunch; $13-$22 for Dinner

Okinawa Sushi Japanese Restaurant in Sudbury District may be a hit with its young college clientele, but I give it a failed ‘E’ for effort.

Japanese-like, is what I’d term it, restaurants are popping up in the small town of Sudbury, I’m told, catering to its growing Asian community with the explosion of it’s young college clientele. Generally a mining town, coined as the Nickel Capital of the World, now attracting international business tourism, Sudbury is expanding its culinary horizons with the demands by offering international cuisine to it’s visitors. Of course, that is always exciting to any town especially to Sudbury’s humble size (3200km sq. with a population of approximately 160,000).

Shrimp Tempura

Not much is known about Okinawa Japanese Restaurant since it has only been opened a few months ago according to the hotel staff. None of them working that evening have never even been to Okinawa to say if it was good or not. Odd since it is literally next door to the Holiday Inn Hotel Sudbury. So let me give you the lowdown.

The decor is plain with attempts to create an Asian-insipired restaurant with picture frames of geishas and other cheap Asian art work on it’s walls. A lucky golden Maneki Neko greets you at the door with it’s waving paw as if to say hello and welcome to my restaurant. I was sat right away with the lone table left in the restaurant placed between the sushi prep area and the main dining area. There was no decor in the restaurant, like I said, so it felt like I was sitting in the middle of a hall. The tables were arranged in a cafeteria-like setting and because of it’s high ceilings, it felt like one big empty space and I was sitting alone in the middle of it so everyone can watch me. Certainly, this is not the place to be dining someone special or to enjoy a semi-private dinner. There was not one Shoji screen to separate any table. I did think to myself that it’s busy enough that its food must be good for the crowd to be this big and restaurant this busy on a Monday. Given, it’s a holiday Monday, but regardless. Too bad it wasn’t the case…

Sushi Plate

I ordered two shrimp tempura to start. A staple for me when dining Japanese. I’m used to larger shrimps but this was an “All You Can Eat” so I thought it would be to my advantage because it will allow me to order more. And honestly, it was about the only thing I ordered again from the menu of over 120 items. And that’s only because it was at least in proper rice-flour batter and cooked so you can’t go wrong.

Sashimi Plate

I ordered a few items from their sushi selection which arrived on this plate. The portions were really small that I am no longer thinking that it’s to my advantage. If you notice the sake (salmon), it appears as though it was cut thick and properly. Actually, it was not. It was so thinly filleted that it was almost see through. It only appeared thick because it wrapped the rice underneath it. And it didn’t even taste fresh! Fish used for sushi is usually flash-frozen after being caught and cleaned to minimize degrading, but this tasted as if it had been frozen, defrosted, frozen again, then defrosted again, then served. And every single fish on this plate tasted the same way.

Dragon Roll

Next on the chopping block, literally, is this sashimi plate. The sushi should have been fair warning to not even eat this, but there was a charge for not eating what you ordered. And I was just too afraid how much the charge was for that. Again, very tiny portions and just as “fresh” as the fish from the other plate. Nothing further can be said, positive or negative, well, maybe more negative, but after the freshness issues, I don’t think I need to keep dwelling on that.

I also ordered a Dragon Roll, which didn’t resemble one, from the Maki selection but that too, in it’s simplest form, was disappointing.

BBQ Eel Rice

So, with all this disappointment of the raw dishes, I decided on filling up with something cooked. And who can go wrong with rice? They seem to offer a few rice dishes including fried ones and dishes with infused flavours; or at least read as such. I ordered, the BBQ Eel Rice and that’s exactly what I got. About two spoonful of steamed rice with “BBQ” eel on top drizzled with premixed BBQ sauce. Reading it off the menu sounded exciting and tasty, but what came was not. I guess I should have expected it, but I was really hoping for this dining experience to turn around.

Beef Teriyaki

Even with the Beef Teriyaki, the dishes failed to come together. With these cooked dishes, my expectations failed once more. And with that, I decided I could no longer subject my taste buds and stomach to any other on-slaught of this less than mediocre food.

I ordered ice cream to top off my dining. I figured, ice cream must be from a manufacturer and not made in this restaurant, so it can’t be that bad. I ordered green tea ice cream, which I usually enjoy after a good Japanese meal. What arrived was this neon green glob that tasted nowhere near green tea. Proper green tea ice cream usually tastes like green tea, which I sometimes equate to tasting like it’s fresh cut lawn. I know, you’d say “How is that supposed to be good?” But it is; it provides a perfect ending to the salty taste of the soy. But this green ice cream concoction had a flavour unidentifiable to that of a green tea, fresh cut lawn, leaves or anything. It was cold and that was about the only thing I can say positive about it.

Green Tea Ice Cream

Overall, this dining experience was a a flop from the very get-go. Maybe the staff at Holiday Inn was telling me something but did not want to say it directly when they said “None of us had been there.” Lessons learned I suppose. My only fear is that this restaurant will continue to operate with such disregard and disrespect to the Japanese cuisine and no one will know better. I hope the people of Sudbury will try Japanese food outside of their town and have an experience of what this wonderful cuisine has to offer. Maybe even learn to use chopsticks; the majority of people eating was using a fork to eat so clearly, much exposure to the culture is required. Maybe the other two Japanese restaurants in town offered better food, but I was just too afraid to find out.

Osaka Sushi All You Can Eat Retaurant on Urbanspoon


8 thoughts on “May Be A Hit With The College Crowd, But…

  1. Tripper says:

    This is the problem with so-called bloggers. They think they are experts but have no real experience writing. How can you take what this blogger says, when he doesn’t know the difference between the proper use of it’s and its? Seriously, take some lessons in spelling, you idiot. And by the way, I have been to this restaurant and it’s good (notice I used it’s properly…as in it is). Good value for the money, tasty, and clean.

  2. I’ve been to this restaurant and I can confirm the blogger’s opinion. The food was poorly made. I’m glad you like it, Tripper.

    As a side note, even professional writers make mistakes. That is why they have editors. Bloggers do not have editors to catch typos or grammatical and spelling errors. Even with editors, mistakes make it through to book copies.

    A grammatical, spelling, or typographical error is hardly cause to disregard a well-deserved, well-written and well-explained trouncing of a restaurant.

  3. Lina says:

    I thought the same thing when I ate at Okinawa. Everything was mediocre at best, probably intended for people who care more about a cheap all-you-can-eat price than the quality of the food. If you want good sushi in Sudbury, go to Sapporo Ichibang instead!

  4. Sudbury Rocks . says:

    For me if you are a blogger and want to comment on a eatery they should have their facts. If their background is shady then their observations are flawed. Sudbury was a Rail town surrounded with mining towns. Not until the 1970s was Sudbury unified with it’s mining sectors. Joke.

  5. John says:

    I can only speak for the take-out. Not to play favorites or anything, the quality is decent, but a few ranks below some of the other Sushi Take-Out places in town.

  6. taintedxxbright says:

    I have lived in San Fransisco, Vancouver and Toronto, so I know good sushi. And for Sudbury this place is the best AYCE Japanese…Its definitely not my top 5, but it does the trick!!. For the best Sushi and Asian food, go to Azian Restaurant on Barrydowne Rd. Never, and I repeat NEVER, go to Osaka on Lasalle…unless u want to be force fed, treated badly, and have ur sushi falling apart. *See my urbanspoon review titled ‘Never going back’

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