Delicious Rolls & Mao Rolls @ Kamei Royale

Kamei Royale is actually owned by the same group of people who own Daimasu and Ebisu. I was told that Kamei was the first one out of them all, opening back in the 90s.  It was supposed to be one of the more high-end sushi restaurants in town.  Because of my past experiences at Daimasu, I didn't really have high expectations for Kamei. 

The interior does look a lot nicer than Daimasu, and it has a lot of framed autographs from Olympic athletes.  They even feature their "Mao roll" which is not named after who you think it is.  It's actually created by Japanese Olympic figure skater Mao Asada.  They even have their own website (unlike Daimasu), where you can check out their menu.

Jeff had a game plan to order a variety of different things and somehow make it more filling and economical. I didn't really understand it -- we just let him do whatever he suggested.  For the specialty rolls, we first ordered the mango paradise roll ($13.95), which we later realized was essentially a California roll topped with smoked salmon, mango, and tobiko.  It was alright -- the mango was actually quite sweet and went well with the smoked salmon, but it wasn't that amazing.

The delicious roll ($13.95) was actually quite dericious (that's what its called in Japanese) and better than I had expected.  Asides from the core components of a California roll once again (crab meat and avocado), they added chopped scallop and mango inside and topped with prawn.

We ordered two "normal roll" as a part of Jeff's plans.  He and I both vouched for the dynamite roll ($6.50).  It was disappointing, to say the least.  I honestly wanted to spit it out, but seeing as everyone just at it, I felt really bad and washed it down with tea.  The problem with the roll was that it had a really bad taste to the shrimp, as if it had gone bad.  I don't know how NO ONE ELSE noticed this, but I guess I'm really sensitive to these things.  I have experienced this before with other shrimp, so I don't entirely blame the restaurant.  We also got the spicy salmon roll ($5.50).  I'm not really a fan of this roll because I think they just use the ends and bits from the whole salmon in this roll.  Plus, they probably cover the unfresh taste with the spicy sauce.  (Well, that's my little theory.)

All the rolls were much smaller than what I was normally used to.  They were definitely the "Daimasu size" and very small.

We wanted some sashimi, so we opted for the sashimi Vancouver ($19.99), which came with salmon, tuna, "high quality" tuna, and yellowtail -- all "artistically designed by [their] experienced chef".  Somehow, I didn't feel like it was that artistic, despite the menu telling me it was.  I only got to try a piece of the yellowtail, which I haven't actually tried in sashimi form before.  It's the one in between the salmon and tuna, with the dark red parts.  It was actually quite good and sweet.  I'd prefer it over tuna since it is firmer and doesn't have such a mushy texture.

Onto the cooked food category! We ordered the agedashi tofu.  The tofu chunks were actually quite big, which means less surface area to volume ratio! Less fried goodness! Oh well, I'm probably the only person who only likes the fried part because I'm not a huge fan of tofu.  I liked how they added grated ginger and green onions though.  Usually places just top it with grated radish(, which they also did here).

The chicken karaage ($9.95) was pretty good and different from what I was used to.  Usually the ones I've had do not have such small, fine, whatever you call it crispy parts.  These ones seem to be more like bread crumbs than the others I've had, resulting in a harder crunch.  I did like it though, since it was more crunchy.

The tuna tacos ($8.50) was the highlight for me.  These were chocked full of a lot of stuff: hard shell tacos stuffed with seared tuna, avocado, tomato, mango, and lettuce, topped with hot sauce and roe.  These were a pain to eat and I ended up using my chopsticks like an Asian, but it seemed like I was the only one that was having trouble.  The trick is to just go for it and down it in two bites.  I really enjoyed the seared tuna and it went really well with the avocado (actually most things do go well with avocado).

Actually, I change my mind about the tacos being the highlight.  The beef tataki ($12.80) was the highlight for me.  It was really well done -- not too thin and still had a very strong beef flavour to it.  I've tried beef tataki before at an izakaya and also at an AYCE place, and they were paper thin! This one actually had some texture to it and felt like I was eating beef.  I enjoyed it a lot.  Anyone have suggestions of a place with good beef tataki?

We ended up ordering more: the cherry blossom roll ($15.50) is made out of salmon and avocado wrapped in hawaiian red tuna.  I don't remember eating it, but I'm sure I did because I took a picture of it.  I guess it wasn't that amazing.

The volcano roll ($9.95), a spicy salmon roll topped with avocado and tempura flour: I was pretty full by the time I had to try this, so my impression of it wasn't that great.  It is basically as the description states it to be.

My meal at Kamei wasn't all that amazing, and considering what I ended up paying (almost $30), I don't think I will be returning for dinner.  I really did enjoy the tuna tacos and the beef tataki though, but not enough to pay that amount of money to have full meal.  I do understand that when you go and have sushi with a lot of people, it does end up to be quite expensive, but I don't think the boys were full from the meal either.

Kamei Royale Japanese
1030 W Georgia St
Vancouver, BC
(604) 687-8588
Kamei Royale Japanese on Urbanspoon

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If memory serves me right that roll, along with the other "special" rolls were made by (or inspired?) by figure skaters of the Japanese team in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. As you mentioned, ASADA Mao, SUZUKI Akiko, ODA Nobunari and KOZUKA Takahiko.

Here is my one complain about sushi "aficionados" in Vancouver: Rolls… REALLY???? I will give them points that they are easier to share and might more easily fill you up; however, ANYBODY can make a roll! (read: it does not "test" the restaurant's ability to produce good eats). Yeah, add some bells and whistles and people go crazy for them! If I go to a restaurant serving sushi, I would order either nigirizushi or sashimi. In both cases, you can see when they mess up even before you put it in your mouth.

(Side note: pet peeve number 2? People filling their saucer with soy sauce and bill dollops of wasabi making it into a black/green looking highly viscous liquid which they then drench their pieces of sushi with).

But, back to the restaurant. While working in the Downtown area, I never felt attracted to visit this place. In a way, I had really bad vibes. What you wrote confirms those hunches. Actually, Ebisu, as you pointed, part of the same chain has decent deals for lunch and dinner. Not mind blowing but decent… For me, non-izakaya, non-ramen Japanese eats in the area, the best bet will be Aki Japanese Restaurant. The only "problem" is getting a seat if you choose to drop by at noon sharp. Either you call ahead for reservations or go slightly past lunch rush. And, caveat, their specialty is robata, not sushi so order accordingly!

Kamei Sushi! I remember that was where I first experienced Japanese food! This was back in Richmond, 3 decades ago. I remember I hated wasabi and the ginger, and I was learning to like raw fish through salmon rolls, and I also remember this awesome cookie that came with a scoop of ice cream. I remember really loving the cookie, haha. I also remember my grandfather (who spoke a little Japanese) flirting with the yukata-clad servers.

My friend Koji was some sort of manager or somethingat Kamei, but that too was a long time ago. I've never been there, but sounds like I'm not missing much.

@KimHo: Yeah, I think their rolls are named after the Japanese athletes. I agree with you, even though I'm a sucker for pretty looking rolls. I usually think the stuff inside the rolls are probably the least fresh since they have a lot of other things going on to cover the taste. That being said, I love nigiri sushi and sashimi for that same reason.

Ugh, and I don't ever do your wasabi technique... hahaha!

I'll have to check Aki out if I'm around there, though there's still so many places I want to try around downtown :( Thanks

@Kevin: LOL. KimHo gave you a lot of material to work with and still nothing?

@Peter: Hahahah yeah, my coworker said this was one of the first Japanese restaurants in Vancouver. Quite interesting, and good (questionable) to see that it's still here (for reminiscing purposes, I mean).

Janice, probably because Kevin knows that I can beat the crap out of him for making such remarks... Or accuse of a lot of things that might not bode well with him, huahahahaha!!!!

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