Michi Sushi had been in the back of my mind for quite some time now. First hearing about their unique “to go” styled sushi hand rolls on twitter and then passing by the joint numerous times on their busy corner of Vancouver, mere steps away from the intersection of Granville and Broadway. I was intrigued to no end. Catching wind of a happy hour special right around dinner time finally gave me the motivation to trek down and snag a variety of take out rolls on the cheap.
Calling ahead to verify a few things, and getting no answer on my first two attempts, I was a bit miffed to hear that the happy hour only applied to rolls that had already been made and that I should make my way over sooner rather than later to take advantage of the selection that was still available. Vast experience has taught me to be wary of sushi that has been made in advance. But I am not one to be discouraged by the prospects of new food experiences, regardless of how dire they may seem, so I proceeded to make my way down to grab whatever was left. Michi Sushi boasts a healthier and quick alternative for those individuals looking for a meal on the go. Think of a traditional maki roll that has not been cut for easy on-the-move consumption. The healthy aspect that this establishment offers is achieved through the use of brown rice and fresh ingredients, but more on that later.
Upon first glance the interior of michi sushi looks like that of a gelato shop or newer Chinese bakery. Seemingly clean and quiet at about 5pm on a Thursday, I noticed that there were a few spots by the window where diners could park themselves to eat, but from the lack of seating it is probably safe to wager that most of the clientele don’t stick around long. The rolls on display in the bottom shelf are those that are up for grabs during their happy hour special. Ordering during this time is as simple as pointing out which rolls you’d like from the display. I was advised that three rolls usually constitutes a meal for the average person.
Transporting the food back was a simple affair as the rolls were neatly packaged, which speaks for their “to go” selling point. Each roll is individually wrapped in wax paper that is then sealed by a michi sushi logo’d sticker. It all dawned on me as being very cute, which is not a word I use all that often.
Each roll comes with its own fish shaped soy sauce packet, which should be more than enough soy to tide one over. I must say that I liked the resealable soy bottles as they do away with a lot of the mess that comes with the take out soy sauce packets. The little red capped bottles are a lot easier to dispense soy sauce from as well. The presentation of the food is nice in that one can see the filling ingredients poking out from their hiding places within the roll. In the above photo are two of the wild salmon with avocado rolls (pictured left and center) and one california roll (pictured right). I sunk my teeth into the salmon and avocado roll first and what came to mind instantly was my folly of ordering marked down food that was less than fresh. All of the rolls were quite cold, which can be a little unsettling when brown rice is involved. As brown rice is already firmer in consistency and slightly more fibrous than the type of rice one would normally find in sushi, each mouthful seemed to involve a good deal of chewing and texture recognition on my palate. It was as if my mind was attempting to come to grips with a new food sensation conundrum that just couldn’t be solved and I found myself doing a lot more concentrating on each mouthful of food than should really be necessary. To my relief, the salmon had held up slightly better than the rice or seaweed and did not strike me as anything below decent. The california roll was actually my favourite of all the rolls and that was mainly due to those ingredients holding up to storage the best.
Speaking of the seaweed, it was also a bit chewy from the moisture that would invariably be absorbed from the ingredients. Next up was the tuna with green onion, shiso and spinach. The spinach and red pepper were very vibrant against the brown rice and nori backdrop as evidenced in the photo. Once again I must cite how pretty and cute the whole experience was. I was hopeful that this roll would taste like a negitoro roll, but much of the flavour experience was lost on the chilly rice and it was by this point that I was thankful for the abundance of soy sauce provided. Although the spinach and red pepper were fresh.
The next rolls were the spicy scallop with asparagus (pictured on the left and right) and the prawn and avocado with lemon mayo (pictured center). The spicy scallop tasted fresh but the roll itself was a little bit bland. It did have a spicy kick, which I always enjoy, but there just wasn’t enough flavour to make them memorably good. The prawn and av0cado suffered a similar fate much like the spicy scallop, but the addition of the lemon to the mayo gave it a fresher and tangy taste. The prawn itself was crunchy and enjoyable.
The last variety of hand roll that I ordered contained unagi, which came wrapped up with avocado and pea shoots. The eel was sweet and tender, if again a bit on the cold/refrigerated side. I was not able to detect very much avocado in this roll, which was not the case with the other rolls that contained it.
When all was said and done, I believe I ended up eating five rolls before slowing down. Let me be clear by saying that I was not entirely full at that point and that my hunger got the best of my better judgement. I went on to devour another two rolls after a brief reprieve for convenience (they were sitting there ripe for the plucking) and for lack of an immediate alternative. Suffice it to say I was not entirely impressed with the Michi Sushi happy hour experience and it would only be fair of me to return to try a freshly made roll (or six) at another time.
1513 W Broadway