Soul Robata & Izakaya is a new Japanese restaurant in Richmond's "food alley" on Alexandra Road. Soul is not your average Japanese all-you-can-eat. It serves a more traditional robata-style grilled food. Although the restaurant is dubbed as an Izakaya, it didn't feel like it as I didn't even see a drink menu. The restaurant is not really visible from the outside, it blends into the various stores beside it. However, the interior is charming and quite inviting. They had little lanterns or Akachōchin hanging above their sushi bar. The restaurant has a small, warm loungey atmosphere with quirkiness represented by the little cups and ceramics on the wall with english phrases that didn't make any sense or fit with the ambience. Examples of some of these phrases were: 'corn squeezins', 'mountain dew', and 'little brown jug'.
Sashimi (Hamachi, Kampachi, Mata?) - Fresh and soft. What good sashimi should taste like.
Grilled Beef Tongue - Soft, tender, and melts in your mouth. My fav beef dish!
Monk Fish Liver Pate - Definitely a must try. I haven't really tried fish pate and I have to say I really like it. It reminds me a little bit of the salmon pate I had before, but this is given a unique twist with its slightly pickled flavor. Yum!
Salmon tartare with Nori - I'm a little put off by this. I've had better salmon tartare elsewhere in Vancouver (if I remember correctly, it was at Brix). I would have to say it was average, and a little too strong in flavor. It was too 'fishy' and had a strong smell.
Crispy Chicken Skin - Mmmm. Can't really go wrong with fried chicken skin. Crisp, and flavorful.
Hairy Crab Bruschetta? - I'm not sure what is so hairy about it. Crab paste (the high cholesterol stuff) on top of bruschetta and served on some salad. An interesting dish guaranteed to raise your cholesterol through the roof. It's something to try if you've never tried it before, but I didn't feel like it was all too delish.
Takoyaki/Octopus Fritters - I love takoyaki, and Soul's "Octopus Fritters" are no exception. Standard formula and tasted like perfection.
Fried Ice Cream - I tried out two different flavors, green tea and
black sesame. The green tea was quite ordinary and did not match with the fried exterior at all. The black sesame on the other hand is rated as Jeff's current "Best Fried Ice Cream ever". The dark, intense earthy flavor of the black sesame merges perfectly with the fried batter. It is a perfect dessert to a Japanese robata dinner. For those of you who have never tried black sesame ice cream, it is an intense, mildly spicy concoction that has a nutty taste. (Unless you order ice cream at Guu, in Aberdeen anyway, that tastes like watered down ice cream because it's probably from Mondo Gelato).
Soul Robata & Izakaya - Definitely a robata, not so much an Izakaya. It's not Japanese run, but that's okay, the food is good. Service was excellent, tea service came by almost every 5 minutes or less and the staff was friendly. Ambience is a little quirky and not authentic, but it's a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The Black Sesame flavor Fried Ice Cream is a MUST.
Soul Robata & Izakaya
1015-8580 Alexandra Rd, Richmond. B.C.
Service & Setting: 4/5
Cost Level: 3