Biiru – Japanese Bistro – Latin Quartier

Starting work at the hospital this past week, it has been tough. So some of my friends and I decided to catch each other up on our exciting new experiences by going to grab some food (and drinks of course) at an izakaya very close to where we live.

Biiru was a place that we’ve all seen recently, and since it is still relatively new, there wasn’t much information about it. From the pictures and the menu, we decided it was worth trying.

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The décor is a love-hate for me. I love the vibe it gave, from the wood tables to the bouncy stools at several of the tables. I love that they had many different types of wall décor, and I absolutely loved their washroom signs. However, I would’ve liked to see cleaner typography when it came to the katakana and hiragana on the walls and on the back of the chairs. I didn’t like how it wasn’t clean, and were literally painted on by hand. Perhaps that was the style they were going for, but it just looked amateur and sloppy to me.

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We were seated at the bar since there were no other spots available (even though the whole time we were there, there in fact was a table open…). It was obviously difficult to talk to everyone, but worked out well in terms of sharing food. My friend and I shared four dishes: their Japadog, Mushroom Okonomiyaki, Chirashi, and a seafood tempura.

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Starting off with the Japadog, it came in an Asian dinner roll, the ones that are glazed and are very buttery and sweet inside. My friend hated this type of bread (but I quite enjoy it). The “dog” was a handmade shrimp and porc sausage which turned out quite well. I loved that it wasn’t perfectly rounded, and looked house-made. The flavouring was okay, not too strong or bland. The sauce was a mix of mayo and generic teriyaki-type sauce, giving a creamy yet sweet taste to the dog. It was also garnished with a good amount of purple cabbage. Overall, it was okay for $7, with them being lazy with the bread, but picked it up with the sausage.

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The Mushroom Okonomiyaki was probably the best of the bunch. Although it was priced at $13, I did think that this was probably the most authentic (while being innovative) compared to the other dishes. There was a very generous amount of bonito flakes, which I loved. The dough was quite good, and it retained that slight uncooked texture that I absolutely love (not everyone’s type of thing). The mushrooms were not incredibly tasty or rich, but complimented well with the very small amount of truffle oil they added. It was simple, tasty and overall a good filling dish.

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The Chirashi was absolutely awful and just plain sad. The only raw fish included was 3 sad pieces of leftover sashimi, not cut properly, and of bad quality. The rice was done quite well, and I did like the lettuce they added to give a freshness. But the rest that was on the “chirashi” were cucumbers, egg and one piece of eel that was probably 1/8th of your palm. Sad and pathetic, I wish I never ordered it.

Lastly the tempura was also a huge fail. The batter was awful, the selection was also awful. We didn’t go for the celery tempura, because that’s just silly. They did not have any type of crunch to it, and were a little too damp. When you pick up the shrimp, tiny pieces didn’t crumble off, and fell limp in my chopsticks. The sauce was some strange, non-traditional sauce as well. Priced at $12, I wasted my money on this one.

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My overall impression of the place is just a mediocre, caucasion-fied izakaya. I was a little surprised at the Japadog implementation, but the execution didn’t exceed or meet my expectations. It was by no means any comparison to Vancouver or Japan’s Japadogs. The service was mediocre, given that we were given the bar when there was a table available the whole time we were there (probably a no-show reservation). The cocktails were weak and nasty. They tried to incorporate Japanese ingredients with some traditional North American bar ingredients…but it really didn’t turn out well. You should just stick to beer here. It was a good night solely because the conversations were good.

Biiru on Urbanspoon

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 7/10
Price: $40/person
Environment: Bistro, Izakaya, Asian, Loud, Bustling

~ kehwon

 

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