Best Cheap Sushi in Vancouver 2014? You Make the Call!

Photo credit: tomek strabski | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: tomek strabski | Wikimedia Commons

It’s no secret that Vancouver is sushi central.  Literally thousands of restaurants around the city serve up maki, sashimi and other sushi staples.  And, as Vancouverites know, lots of it is dirt cheap compared to other cities around the world.  In fact, it’s hard to walk two blocks without seeing a sandwich board advertising a $5.99 18-piece special (with miso soup).

With so many budget options, it’s hard to know where to start – which is why I’d like your help.  Do you have a favourite cheap sushi joint in Vancouver?  If so, leave a comment below and help out all the hungry, bargain-seeking sushi lovers out there.

But cheap, of course, isn’t everything – especially when it comes to raw fish.  Maybe it’s worth diving a little deeper into what makes a great cheap sushi restaurant.

Freshness: This one is a no brainer.  Great sushi starts with great fish.  Words to live by: If you walk into a sushi place and it smells fishy, walk back out.  Fresh fish – the kind that makes great sushi – shouldn’t smell.  Now, it’s pretty easy to hide subpar fish deep inside some sushi roll that’s loaded with all sorts of fillings.  So the ultimate test is sashimi – raw fish, unadorned, nowhere to hide.  A great cheap sushi restaurant has to have decent sashimi or else it’s a nonstarter.

Photo credit:  Peterjhpark | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Peterjhpark | Wikimedia Commons

Cleanliness: This point also seems obvious but is often overlooked.  Too many cheap sushi places in Vancouver are … well … grimy.  I know what you’re saying: “What do you expect when you’re paying pennies for a piece of maki?” But considering the health and safety issues involved with eating raw fish, I think it’s critical that any cheap sushi joint also be immaculately clean.  It doesn’t have to have a fancy, high-design interior or incredible atmosphere or anything like that.  But I don’t want to see an old mop and bucket sitting in the corner, the kitchen shouldn’t be piled high with dirty dishes and the washrooms have to be spotless.  (More words to live by: Imagine you’re eating off a restaurant’s washroom floor … because if they neglect the washrooms they’re probably going to neglect the kitchen, too.”)

Photo credit: Dbarak | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Dbarak | Wikimedia Commons

Authenticity: I know it’s a bit of an oxymoron to look for authentic Vancouver sushi.  We’re a few thousand miles from Tokyo, and Japanese cuisine here has taken on a life of its own.  But I still think some kind of nod to authenticity is a critical aspect of a cheap sushi joint.  A menu that features nothing but deep-fried rolls, packed with cream cheese and teriyaki beef and other Americanized sushi inventions … well, that doesn’t pass my test.  I also consider it a warning sign when a sushi joint happens to serve a smorgasbord of Korean and Chinese dishes, as well, from bulgogi to lo mein.  Each of these cuisines is so distinct that I really don’t think it’s possible to get them all right in one, cheap restaurant.

With these criteria in mind, the list of great, cheap sushi restaurants in Vancouver gets a bit more manageable.  But there are still plenty out there.

If you’ve got a favourite cheap sushi restaurant in Vancouver, please let us know by leaving a comment below. 

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