Shima-Ya (or SHIMA-YA as per their menu and sign), is really a classic sushi restaurant in the Vancouver area of Victoria and 41st. I’m a huge sushi fan and a fan of this place in general. I’m particularly picky about my sushi and really stand for quality over quantity. I’m not a All-You-Can-Eat type person at all, even though I used to frequent those kinds of places in the past. These days, I’m all about fine nigiri sushi and really nice rolls. For example have a look at our post about Toshi’s, where they serve quite decent sushi at an affordable price.
I had heard great things about Shima-Ya, though everyone that tells me about this place, seems to give off the vibe that they don’t really want too many people to know about this place. I’m all about authentic Japanese sushi. Let’s see if this place delivers.
Located on Victoria street, this place doesn’t really stand out or anything.
Inside is a small sushi shop with limited seating. I was able to get a spot right away and was served green tea. One of the things that I really look for in a sushi restaurant is fresh green tea. Fortunately, their tea is excellent.
The interior of the place is interesting. Lots of Japanese type ornaments, and interesting music. But onto the food! I was feeling particularly hungry so I ordered a bunch of sushi.
So there were three pieces of sake (salmon), one piece of toro, one alaska roll, two chopped scalloped rolls, one piece of ebi nigiri, one red tuna, and one albacore tuna. The nigiri was expertly crafted, with just a hint of wasabi underneath. For those who aren’t used to wasabi underneath, it specifies on the menu you can order with out it – it’s a default by the sushi chef. Personally I love the wasabi touch and the sushi chef prefers it as well.
I must say the sushi chef really knows how to do Nigiri sushi. The trick to expert sushi rice is getting the acidity levels and temperature just right, followed by the rice packed at just the right denseness. High quality sushi does not have the rice packed together into a mushed up mess – rather, they have the rice just sticking onto itself. The nigiri sushi at Shima-Ya acheives this with great results. The fact that wild salmon is used is also very welcomed, as I’m not a big fan of the farmed salmon prevalent in many places. The toro was great, and the chopped scallop was the highlight for me. The freshness really stood out, a factor that is key for good chopped scallop dishes.
I was so impressed by the nigiri I decided to order an uni. Uni is something that is desired to have at high level of freshness and quality. In Japan, it’s sold on grades, and high quality uni can be auctioned off for high sums of money. The texture of the Uni was a real treat, and I would definitely order this guy again.
And that was the end to a fantastic meal. I really like this sushi place and these days I think it’s a favorite of mine over Toshi’s.
Overall:Overall this is probably one of my favorite sushi places in Vancouver. It consistently puts out high quality sushi, probably because I've only ever seen one sushi chef work there. I've had a lot of sushi in Vancouver and this place really stick out in my mind as one of the best in the city.
*Our scoring system is out of 5. With 5 being the highest score.