I’m super picky about sushi and am always hesitant to try an unfamiliar place without a recommendation from a friend. While sushi joints are rampant in my neighbourhood, I typically drive rather lengthy distances for takeout rather than be disappointed by mediocre fare. I was thrilled to discover Shizen Ya, which could not be more convenient for quick takeout on nights when cooking feels like the last thing in the world I want to do. Shizen Ya has two locations, one downtown and one on Broadway in between Granville and Oak, and is well known for its use of brown rice in its rolls long before it became common amongst sushi houses. And while sushi conservatives will undoubtably find things to gripe about, I was quite impressed with Shizen Ya’s healthy take on traditional Japanese fare. With an eclectic menu that runs the gamut from conventional sushi offerings to appealing salads, curries and whole wheat tempura, there is tons to choose from. While the portions are on the small side, the prices are correspondingly low which allows you to order a number of things to try. The lotus root kimpera was fresh and surprisingly tasty as was the hijiki — braised seaweed, carrots and chickpeas. The quality of the sauces and the vegetables was far superior than what you encounter at your average sushi restaurant. The salmon-avocado roll, also made with brown rice, was a highlight as was the spinach curry which we were surprised to find on a sushi menu as it seemed more akin to Indian cuisine, though it was delicious and a nice complement to the rest of our meal. Overall the food was fresh and extremely tasty and while the health conscious offerings make Shizen Ya different from our usual go-to sushi places, it is a welcome addition to our take-out options.
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