Eddie Hill’s Sushi Thai

by KimHo on September 17, 2009 · 10 comments under: Food,Restaurant,Travel

Eddie Hill’s Sushi Thai
134 North Federal Highway
Hallandale Beach, FL
Eddie Hills' Sushi-Thai on Urbanspoon

Call it a personal, unofficial test of a theory. A lot of people think that outside of Japan, the Pacific Northwest, specially Seattle and Vancouver is among the best places to have sushi. Now, I know that high end places can be found outside this region (Nobu in several locations, Morimoto in Philly, et al) but, for average consumers, according to this “theory”, it does not get any better. So what is my test about? Well, I want to know how other places do compared to Vancouver and, to do so, I went to “average” places. Was that a good idea? When I arrived at Miramar, one of the several nearby places was Ra Sushi. OK, don’t kill me! I know it is a chain restaurant but that was a nearby place. When I was driving to that location, I arrive at a gate (as in a gated community). I couldn’t see anybody so rather than inquiring in the middle of nowhere, I turned around. So, the question was where next? I went back to the hotel and started to check Urbanspoon for nearby sushi places. In the end, I checked Miami’s 100 best restaurants list and located Eddie Hill’s Sushi Thai (or just “Sushi Thai”)…

I must mention there was another restaurant in my mind; however, that was in Miami. Distance-wise they were about the same (add/take 4 or 5 Km, one via regular street; the other one via a highway). However, I will admit that people driving in these highways scare the hell out of me. I mean, they change lanes where you barely have any space, tailgate you if they feel you are driving “too slow”, etc. etc. Could it be because we don’t really have a highway here in Metro Vancouver and have grown complacent about the driving style here? (No, Sherman, we are not talking about Richmond!) When I was driving the QEW and the 401 last year, I did not have that same feeling…

So good so far right? Well, here is a curve ball. One of the “complains” here in Vancouver is that most of sushi restaurants here in Vancouver are not operated by Japanese (though that does not mean Japanese can’t mess up their own cuisine either). Well, I must say I couldn’t really get the language the staff was using to communicate with each other, other than the fact I can guarantee it wasn’t English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese OR Korean! Anyway, I was there already and was directed to a table. What drink? Well, how about some green tea?

There is a phrase quoted quite often in Star Wars: I have a bad feeling about this. At this point, when I am given the tea in this mug, lots of crazy thoughts went through my head. I mean, did I end up in a greasy spoon? Or was I expecting too much? I am not sure if it was hunger (it was past 8:30 p.m. by then). Should I back up from my original plan of ordering sushi and, instead order something “safe”? I mean, the restaurant is not only sushi, they also have… What is this? Thai?! O_O OK, let’s give them a chance. Who knows, I have been wrong several times based on ambiance or menu. Hey, I was there only for the food! Actually when I started to look closely at the menu, there were some quite interesting items. There was once that really, and I do mean really, caught my attention: conch sushi. That one item alone made me set all fears aside and leap to the uncertain…

I ended up ordering a set that had that one particular item and, depending on their execution, I would order more pieces. And, to start that set, a bowl of miso soup. Unfortunately, those fears I was in a bad spot came back when I saw it. I will be blunt here, after the first sip, I thought the miso soup you can make from instant packs tasted better than this. It felt flat, barely salty and lack any umami/savoury taste to it. Not a good start. But, still the conch…

When I was served this dish, I was *this* close to ask for the bill right away. OK, I am not a sushi snob or the sushi police or anything like that. Just by looking at it, I was discouraged to even try it. I mean, this was *way* below any baseline set by sushi restaurant here in Vancouver. And that is even taking into consideration the mass produced sushi from all-you-can-eat places. But, I was hungry… So, I started to take a look and eat each individual piece…

Now, I will admit one thing in their favor: at least their pieces are not ridiculously large as some places I am aware of here in Vancouver. But past that, everything was spiraling down. At first, I noticed some odd smell but couldn’t really pinpoint which piece it was coming from. I started to eat my first piece (the snapper) and… Nothing. No taste, no umami-ness, no sweetness (from the slices of seafood), hard cold rice… Heck, not even a wasabi kick! This would be repeated for most of the pieces except with, oddly, the krab and unagi. In the case of the krab, it had some seafood-like taste but I knew it was artificial so there was no point at all to try to even figure that out. As for the unagi, it had the sweetness associated to it but had some wacky sweetness aftertaste. And don’t get me going with the “California” roll… The major disappointment came from the conch. Although they mentioned the conch was cooked, I was hoping it would have some level of natural seafood taste to it. No, here, it was similar to a piece of tasteless octopus slice.

Overall, this would end up being the worst $17 + $1 (the $1 for the tea!) I spent on this trip. While La Carreta was marginally average (but ended up being “bad” because of the location), Sushi Thai was bad in almost any aspect I could think of. Again, as mentioned above, had I gone to Nobu, sure, I am sure it would have been heck of a meal; however, I was under a (tight) budget so a visit to such place would not have been possible. So, let’s go back to my initial question: Is Vancouver’s *average* sushi as good as people say it is? From what I have experienced so far (OK, I admit, not that many places outside of Vancouver), it seems that Vancouver’s average sushi looks good because the average of some other places is not at the same level. Now, I am no trying to bash Miami’s representation of seafood. There was one place I went (which will not be blogged for personal reasons) for ceviche, that Latin American cousin of sashimi, and it was excellent. So I know they can deliver good food. Just not here.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ET September 17, 2009 at 8:03 am

I’ve had some really good sushi in northern California near Santa Cruz. Definitely not a place where there is a large Asian population, but they served some of the freshest uni and o-toro I’ve ever had, and the prices were comparable to “average” sushi in Vancouver ($6 for 2 uni nigiri sushi). Ditto for sushi I’ve had in SFO, Hong Kong, and cities in Shandong, China. So, just as Vancouver isn’t the “best place on earth”, it also isn’t the only place outside Japan where the sushi eating is good. :-)

2 James September 17, 2009 at 8:47 am

Any other customers in the restaurant?

3 KimHo September 17, 2009 at 9:01 am

ET, thanks for proving me wrong! It is possible then that, because I have been sent to some obscure/far away places, some restaurant types are below par. Next time, I guess? :)

James, yes, there were other customers; however, given the sensibility of the American people and having a complete stranger taking pictures of them, I waited until that area was empty.

4 Sherman September 17, 2009 at 9:13 am

I’ve had Japanese in NYC, San Fran, Edmonton (I didn’t try any when I was in Miami tho… hehe). It really depends where you go if you were looking for authenticity and freshness. But I will tell you this, Vancouver does have a pretty huge selection of Japanese places to eat. By that alone, the percentages of having better ones is higher I suppose.

5 raidar September 17, 2009 at 9:58 am

Wow. This is an awesome experience ;)I clicked the Sushi Ra link while I was reading the post and the music alone was enough for me to close the tab. Which made me think you made the right choice until I read a few more lines. Bummer Kim..bummer!

6 KimHo September 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Sherman, using your logic would be somewhat inconclusive. I mean, having sushi shops does not necessarily mean a lot of *good* places. It might be more on the lines of hit-or-miss.

Raidar, I did not realize what you were referring to until I turned off the mute button. But, yes, after 5 seconds, it was darn annoying… -_-

7 Sherman September 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm

That’s true, especially with the ones in the suburbs here, they generally are not that good.

8 polarbear October 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I’m sorry to hear you were disappointed. We love Eddie Hill’s, we go there quite often, it’s always packed, even on weeknights. We usually order a roll of sushi and then an Thai entree. Their menu offers so much variety, I haven’t had the same thing twice yet and I’ve never eaten anything there I didn’t enjoy. Service is fast and the prices are affordable, especially considering the generous portions. We love the casual diner-style setting. Urbanspoon rates Eddie Hill’s as one of the best places for sushi in Broward County and the best restaurant in Hollywood/Hallandale overall. Anyway, you have a right to your opinion, I just felt the need to comment and “defend” Eddie Hill’s as a local fan because I saw your blog had overtaken their website as the top Google result. Amazing.

9 KimHo October 12, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Polarbear, welcome! Unfortunately (?), my yardstick is Vancouver – a place where it is said there are as many sushi shops as there are Starbucks (if not more). OK, that wasn’t too descriptive. Try one of the many sushi posts I have written so you can have an idea what we have here. As a result of this (somewhat unfair) comparison, I found it inferior to what we can get here. On the note of Urbanspoon and rankings, it was not the first time I did not like a highly ranked restaurants (and unlikely it will be the last!).

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