Finding myself in Richmond for work, I sat in my lonely, middle-of-nowhere Holiday Inn Express and pondered my dinner options. Which, when in the Greater Vancouver Area, is a task on its own for any lover of food. The suburbs just keep going in this west coast smorgasbord of a city while restaurants seem to open every minute. How far should I venture? What culinary adventure should I undergo? Deciding to keep it close, I racked my brain and recalled a post by Are you Going to Eat That? from back in 2009. I’d made a mental note for one particular reason; horse sashimi.
Cramming my rental car into a tight parking lot, I entered the strip mall restaurant and was enveloped in a peaceful, wood laden establishment. With all but one seat taken, I did what any normal travelling sushi eater does and headed towards a stool and the sushi counter. Looking through the menu of mixed dishes (robata, maki, nigiri, etc..) I didn’t see horse anywhere. Asking for the specials, I was handed another menu that also didn’t read horse (or basashi). The ever increasing quality of sashimi available on the daily specials would normally have my skin flushed with joy, but the lack of horse seemed to be tempering this. With a mug of tea in hand, I called over the team and asked about horse. “Do you have basashi?”, I quietly asked. There was a pause before someone else arrived, “You want horse meat?” “Yes! Yes!” was all I could get out as they nodded their understanding.
The variety and depth of seafood offerings could easily see a meal here run you a steep bill. Opening with a classic chirashi, the dish didn’t initially wow. The often over the top displays of chiriashi bowls can distract you from what comes inside. Here it was clean, well sliced, and beautifully proportioned fish on top of heavenly rice. You know that rice. That perfect sushi rice with the right level of stickiness that fills your taste buds with hints of vinegar and sugar. A solid start to the meal.
The Crab Soup arrived in a piping hot clay pot. Certainly not something I would think of making at home. The combination of crab and rice in a savory broth really warmed my belly. It’s no chicken noodle soup, but it sure made my stomach do the happy dance. As the raw horse was placed in front of me, I took a step back from the soup and just took everything in. I haven’t had horse for a while now and this would be my first crack at a sashimi version. The dark, lean meat was sweet and tender to the tooth. Taking a slice to combine with the grated daikon, ginger, and green onion made for a tremendous experience. Add a quick dip of everything in the accompanying sesame soy and you could eat this for hours. Well, at least I could.
Wanting to finish with something fun, I opted for one of my favorites. Sweet, plump, meaty shrimp bodies served sashimi style. The real bonus with this dish is the heads. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long for the staff to return with my shrimp heads fresh from their deep fried luxury bath. Quite possibly one of the best sushi related bar snacks you could ask for. The fried heads, what with their great snap, crackle, and pop, contrast nicely to the rest of the dish.
Rolling myself out the door, I couldn’t have pictured a better supper after a long day of work and uninspiring hotel food. The well prepared food and cozy atmosphere are enough to seduce me back to experience more of the menu. Combine that with the horse sashimi and Richmond has a real gem in their neighbourhood.