Within the two shopping strips in Runcorn, which are turning out to be quite the 'New Sunnybank', lies a Japanese restaurant which I had been eyeing for quite some time. One lazy friday afternoon we finally decided to go, after being highly recommended by an acquaintance.
It took us a while to be seated that evening, I couldn't say that the waiters and waitresses were rude, but they were definitely preoccupied with something else. It took quite a while to get their attention on multiple occasions.
The theme of the restaurant was decidedly dark but contemporary.
In accordance with the theme, the crockery and cutlery were dark. It would have been a nice effect, except for the part where the crockery was quite chipped.
We started off the meal with complimentary edamame.
The first to arrive was the Salmon Carpaccio. This dish seems to have only gained traction in the last several years. Apparently, Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat (in this case, Salmon), marinated with lemon and olive oil, then garnished with herbs. I found this to be a really interesting twist on my usual salmon sashimi.
That's not to say that traditional isnt always the best though! Next up was our sashimi platter. It came with Salmon, Cod, Kingfish, Tuna, Scallops and an Oyster.
Of that dish, we found the cod to be the freshest and had the best texture. Second would probably be the salmon, with tuna and kingfish tying for third.
I suppose it was also noteworthy to mention that the wasabi was the freshly ground type, rather than the processed type you get from supermarkets. I could definitely taste the difference.
I'm not sure whether Ren were having a soy sauce shortage that day, but they seemed to be quite reluctant in providing soy sauce. Where other restaurants would have just handed you the bottle, they only gave you a tiny little portion when asked. At first, I thought this might have been some expensive exotic soy sauce, but it tasted pretty ordinary to me.
Next to arrive was the takoyaki, which was served on a hot iron plate, which ensured that the takoyaki was piping hot for the whole night. I found Ren to be generous when it came to condiments and toppings. The takoyaki was crisp and bursting with flavour. I really liked them.
Our three rolls of sushi arrived shortly after.
This was the salmon roll. To be honest, I there wasnt much 'wow' factor to it. The salmon was nice, but it was just a regular salmon avocado roll. It didn't even have the extra crunch of the tobiko. The shallots on top gave it a bit of an extra twist, but there wasn't enough to significantly change the flavour of the roll.
This was the Karaage Chicken Roll. The chicken was nice and hot, and crispy, but like the salmon roll, it didnt set itself apart from any of the other sushi rolls I've had at other places.
The last roll we got was the Runcorn Roll. We ordered it because we were quite curious about what they would put in it. It turned out to be seafood stick, with avocado and sprinkled with tobiko.
Lastly, we had the Nabeyaki Udon. I covered the essentials of Nabeyaki in my Oshin post, and I found the Nabeyaki at Ren to be vastly different, despite both being udon served in a pot. I found the egg to be vastly under cooked. They used beef rather than chicken, and I found that to be quite over cooked. I dont think the flavours complimented each other too well. I prefer the nabeyaki at oshin far more.
I found the food at Ren to be decent for Japanese food, it was definitely not bad, but there was nothing that made it stand out to be better than the other places I've been to.
Price Range: $20 - $35 per person