MY FAVORITE SUSHI RESTAURANTS

Please note that this post will always evolve as I try more and more sushi places. Come back every so often to see which new spots made “my” cut. I Hope you agree, and please don’t complain if my tastes are not like yours. ;)

I love sushi and, many of my friends being foodies themselves, I’ve had the chance to try quite a few different sushi restaurants so far. Here then are my picks by category:

CATEGORY WHERE COMMENT
Best
Salmon Sashimi
Gyoza King* 1508 Robson St.
Vancouver
604-669-8278
Actually, the restaurant specifically mentions that it’s a “24-hour sushi-free zone”, but they do serve the tastiest salmon sashimi around (although it is somewhat thin and pricey).  Instantly, as my girlfriend and I tried it for the first time, we both went “MMMMMM!!!!”  Outstanding! :)
Best California Roll Gohan
1815 Rosser Av.
Burnaby
604-205-5212
Gohan’s California Roll is just the right size and the filling is dense and very tasty.  I usually take it as part of their lunch special, which includes a miso soup, California roll (6) or sushi (3), and an entree (chicken teriyaki or some other option) for $7.95.  You might not be “totally” full after this, but it’s not a bad deal anyway.
Best
Spicy Tuna Cone
Richmond Sushi
8388 Capstan Way, #1488
Richmond
604-207-7799
I’m not too keen on tuna, but add some spice to it and I’m in! I was having “all you can eat” sushi and when I tried that spicy tuna cone, it’s like nothing else existed for me! :) Very tasty indeed.  But for those of you who don’t like their food too spicy, you might want to avoid this one (last time I was there, a friend complained it was too spicy).
Best Price Sushi Garden
4635 Kingsway
Burnaby
604-436-0104
The first time I went there, I had their BC Combo — which includes 4 BC rolls, 4 Alaska rolls, and 2 pieces each of tuna and salmon sushi — all for 8$ (plus tax)! And their rolls are quite big. It’s actually a little cumbersome to eat, but hey, I’m all for a cheap bill and a full stomach! :)  The restaurant is often crowded; very popular place, across the street from Metrotown.
Best “All You Can Eat” Richmond Sushi
8388 Capstan Way, #1488
Richmond
604-207-7799
(Be warned that I’ve only tried a handful of AYCE places so far, but right now, this is my pick…  Let me know about your favorite! :) )I like their semi-private booths, the overall quality of the food is decent (and “great” for that spicy tuna cone I just mentioned) and they have a great deal if you don’t mind eating late.  I don’t remember exactly how much it was — it’s been a while since I’ve been there — but I think it’s 14$ after 9:30PM.
Best Overall Samurai Japanese Restaurant
1108 Davie St.
Vancouver
604-609-0078
Very generous sushi portions, great taste, affordable price.  Their salmon sashimi is a close second taste-wise to Gyoza King’s, but the size is so much bigger…  It’s like one piece at Samurai is worth three — nevertheless delicious ones — at Gyoza King.  Their chopped scallops roll is great too, and a bunch of non-sushi related dishes like their gyoza, tempura, and unagi don (cooked eel in a rice bowl).

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to try them all…  Let me know about your favorites too (as long as it doesn’t sound like a shameless plug for a restaurant)!

* I put the official link to Gyoza King’s web site here, but be warned that as of this writing, it seems to be in Japanese only.

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RELOCATION STRATEGY

This applies to Canadian residents only. I have no idea what the strategy would be like if I were to move in from another country…

I haven’t checked the latest updates in the Canadian income tax model, so my information might be outdated, but the below information was definitely true and beneficial for me when I moved from Quebec to BC almost 2 years ago now.

*****

Here’s a simple way to make or save some money moving from one province to another:

There are 2 scenarios:

  1. Your current province’s income tax rate is higher than BC’s
  2. Your current province’s income tax rate is lower than BC’s

Since your income tax rate is based on where you reside on December 31st of a given year, it might be profitable for you to move to BC late in the year if you fit scenario #1 or early in the year if you fit scenario #2. Conversely, plan accordingly when deciding to move out of BC to another province.  See the current income tax rates here.

Income tax handling has always seemed overly complicated to me and this article is quite basic.  I suggest you verify this information for yourself and make sure this holds true for your particular case too.

I hope things work out as well for you as they did for me. ;)

Kelowna winery tour

Quails' Gate Wine Grapes
Sample some wine grapes at Quails’ Gate (in season only, I assume)

The last weekend of September was a great time to be in Kelowna!  Initially, we had planned to do some hiking or some other activities also, but we quickly gave in to the temptation of discovering and tasting as many wines from the local wineries as we could.

Our first stop was the most visually stunning, by far:

Mission Hill
The moment you drive into the premises of the Mission Hill estate, a sense of “wow” grabs you.  The architecture is spectacular!  A real tour de force…

Mission Hill Bells
Splendid architecture and design await Mission Hill visitors

Mission Hill Loggia
The loggia — or “outdoor room” — providing some peace and quiet

Mission Hill Winery View
View on the outdoor dining terrace and Okanagan Lake

Among the different kinds of tours available to guests, We decided to try the “Discovery” tour, at 18$ per adult.  It included a 10 minute video detailing the origins of the Mission Hill Winery Estate and a short bio of the proprietor, Anthony von Mandl, and the estate’s chief winemaker, John Simes; a visit of the vineyards and their underground, Bordeaux-style barrel cellar; 4 wine tastings with cheese.  We enjoyed our tour very much.  Not being big wine connoisseurs ourselves, we’re however able to taste wine like seasoned pros — sort of — after learning the proper way. :)

Mission Hill Cellar
Cool underground cellar

Mission Hill Bottles
A few of the many award-winning bottles of wine from the winery

Having each a sweet tooth, we ended up buying a bottle of their Vidal Reserve ice wine (part of the wine tasting portion of the tour).  We just fell in love with the rich mango taste and caramel flavor of the wine.

Quails’ Gate
Nobody can compete with the grandeur of Mission Hill, but nevertheless, there are still other wineries worth visiting around — right next door actually.  Just a few blocks from our first stop is Quails’ Gate.  We went for the general 5$ tour there and found that it was more interesting overall.  From a brief history of the origins of the winery, we went through all the steps of wine making in great detail, the tour lasting around an hour.  I won’t spoil the show for you, but our guide Isaac had quite a few funny tidbits to tell us about the art of making wine.

Quails' Gate Entrance

Quails' Gate Backyard #2
The view from Quails’ Gate’s backyard porch

The ambiance of this tour was more casual.  People were allowed to sample some grapes and we had a little bit more time to take pictures in between stations also.  And the view on Lake Okanagan was terrific, the winery being closer to its shores. We didn’t try their restaurant, but apparently, they have excellent — but expensive — food there.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Our other stops were somewhat quick, as we had too many wineries to try and we had to cut some corners here and there during our short weekend stay.  On this list was, to my surprise, Canada’s most visited winery and largest certified organic vineyard: Summerhill Pyramid Winery.  I’m surprised because with Mission Hill’s massive presence, one would think this would be the easy winner; but I guess size doesn’t matter after all. :p  For the short time we were there, it was obvious that this estate was built with “spirituality” in mind (click above link to find out more about the pyramid, etc.).

Summerhill Garden
Colorful garden at Summerhill Pyramid Winery

Little Straw Vineyards
A short stay there.  Just long enough to try their “Tapestry” white wine which our B&B hosts had recommended to us.  We liked it and bought it. :)

Little Straw Winery View
Breathtaking view from Little Straw Vineyards

Accommodations
We like the B&B format and so we decided to try the Alexandria House Bed & Breakfast, close to our main attractions.  We found our “Lilac Room” to be picture perfect; some treats were waiting for us, as we checked in.  Having a private entrance to our room was a nice bonus.  Unfortunately, we missed the mention about the hot tub when we booked our room and didn’t bring our bathing suits along.  When we came back from our dinner, a couple of glasses of home-made red wine were waiting for us.  Breakfast was delicious and filling.  When we mentioned our love for ice wines, we got treated to a couple more samples of home-made dessert wines (port and ice wine if I remember correctly).  It was a very enjoyable stay and our hosts, Paul and Suzanne, made us feel very welcome.

Dining
Dining in the Kelowna region was very good.  Our bills hovered around 70$ each time (with an appy or dessert, but no wine — we had our share already during the day), but if the food is great, I say it’s worth it. ;)

On Saturday night, we went on the East side of the Okanagan to the Wild Apple Grill, at the Manteo Resort, for some excellent pork chops and jumbo prawns.  Service was excellent too.  The only drawback was that we booked our table for 8PM, wishing for a window seat — and we got it.  But, the population being much more sparse around Okanagan Lake in general, night-time becomes synonymous with “total darkness” here.  We could have sat next to a black wall and it would have made no difference. :s  Remember to book your table for before sunset, if you wish to enjoy any kind of view. ;)

On Sunday night, following our gracious B&B hosts’ suggestion, we went for the Gasthaus on the Lake (I hope the “official” link works for you; it wasn’t for me, as of this writing) in Peachland, about 15 minutes South of Westbank, where our B&B and most of the wineries on our tour were.  We were very surprised by just how beautiful the area was, Peachland not being part of our plans initially.  The promenade caressing the shores of the lake reminded me very much of White Rock, closer to home.  As for the food, we found the Gasthaus Pan (a mix of different varieties of pork meats) and the salmon fillet were great and the portions generous.

Peachland Sunset Panoramic
A surprisingly beautiful finish to our weekend, in Peachland

Two days is too short of a stay to enjoy this area fully.  3-4 days would have been just right, I think.  Come and visit that beautiful region, especially since the wine festival has just begun.

Cheers!

P.S.: Oh, and no, we didn’t spot Ogopogo… Maybe next time. ;)

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