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Japanese Beyond Sushi: 11 Vancouver Hot Spots

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With more than 600 restaurants in Metro Vancouver serving maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi, one would think that sushi is all there is to Japanese cuisine, but clearly that is not the case. We asked food blogger Christina Tsang to explore what else is on the menu.
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Japanese cuisine is diverse and so much more than raw fish; it encompasses comforting robust stews, delicate steamed egg custards and crispy fried chicken. Reflecting the various regions of the country, its climate, and culture, Japanese food is sometimes simple but always made with care, attention to detail, and often visually stunning. If you find yourself in a sushi rut or feeling like exploring Japanese cuisine more thoroughly, here now, in no particular order is our Japanese beyond Sushi guide.

Got any favourites to add? Let us know in the comments or send us a sashimi-free email.


· All Previous Eater Maps [EVAN]
· Vancouver's Best Budget Sushi Joints [EVAN] Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Sushimoto

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102-2201 Holdom Ave, Burnaby
BC V5B 0A2, Canada
(604) 293-2201
This tasty crispy dish is a part of the Yoshoku group of foods; a Japanese take on Western dishes which were introduced into Japan’s diet during Emperor Meiji’s reign (1867 – 1912). The korokke is a Japanese version of the French croquette. The korokke at Sushimoto is unique because there are two types: a regular potato edition studded with kernels of corn and a kabocha version. The kabocha korokke is mildly sweet and earthy. The veggie korokke are crispy on the outside but nice and soft on the inside. Both golden patties are drizzled with an okonomiyaki sauce, adding a nice sweet taste. [Image Via I Believe I Can Fry/Flickr]

2. Hyoga

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#2 - 3343 Kingsway, Vancouver
BC V5R 5K6, Canada
(604) 438-0066
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Nasu Dengaku is miso-glazed grilled eggplant. It is simple and classic way to prepare Japanese eggplants, which are more slender and elongated in comparison to the squat eggplants common in North America. At Hyoga the Nasu Dengaku is beautifully presented in a round stack. Eggplants don’t really have strong taste of their own and have the ability to soak up flavor like a sponge. As a result it pairs well with stronger flavor of the miso in this dish. The small pieces of eggplant are tender and bursting with the absorbed flavor of the sweet and salty miso sauce.

3. Tatsu Japanese Bistro

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1441 Commercial Dr., Vancouver
BC V5L 3Y2, Canada
(604) 558-2285
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Nabeyaki Udon is a hearty noodle dish traditionally cooked and served in a metal pot or heavy ceramic casserole dish. Enveloped in delicious broth and paired with al dente udon, this dish contains meat, veggies, Tempura and a poached egg. Gently mix the runny egg yolk into the soup to add a taste of creaminess to the dish. Tatsu Japanese Bistro serves a superbly executed nabeyaki udon that is loaded with ingredients swimming in a broth that has a real deep concentrated taste without the hint of artificial dashi.

4. Marulilu Cafe

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451 W Broadway, Vancouver
BC V5Y 1R4, Canada
(604) 568-4211
Omurice is another Yoshoku food and the Japanese version of an omelette. Instead of fillings like mushrooms or ham, the Japanese stuff theirs with seasoned or plain rice then to it with a simple sauce like tomato or gravy. At Marulilu Café, there are four types of omurice: the lightest is served with ketchup while the Omu Hayashi Rice served with a beef gravy is the heaviest. Marulilu Café's rendition is not quite traditional as the rice is not tucked into the egg but rather the egg is molded onto the rice. However, it still embodies the simple, tasty and satisfying spirit of the dish. Really, can you go wrong with either rice and gravy or egg and tomato combinations?

5. Minami Restaurant

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1118 Mainland St., Vancouver
BC V6B 2T9, Canada
(604) 685-8080
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Tsukemono are Japanese preserved vegetables, served as a snack or as a side dish. Japanese pickles are an important part of the culture’s cuisine. They help stimulate one’s appetite, provide a refreshing contrast to heavier tasting food or can act a palate cleanser. On Minami’s bar bites menu they serve Suzuke-style pickles of local seasonal vegetables in rice vinegar - in addition, Minami also uses kombu and a chili marinade to create their own crisp and refreshing tsukemono. They act as a perfect acidic foil to their heavier aburi-style sushi.

6. Tsuki Sushi Bar

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509 Abbott St., Vancouver
BC V6B 0J9, Canada
(604) 558-3805
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Chawan Mushi literally means 'steamed in teacup' and left to skilled hands, Chawan Mushi is made from a mixture of egg, dashi broth, and morsels of meat and vegetables steamed precisely. At Tsuki Sushi Bar, their 3 types of Chawan Mushi (shrimp, crab and seasonal uni) are well-prepared and delicious. The egg custard has a delicate, smooth silken tofu-like texture. Each bite is filled with a subtle egg and umami flavor. Along with the feature protein, the chawan mushi comes studded with spinach leaves and a quarter of a Shitake mushroom, yielding a delicate yet complex tasting dish.

7. Mogu: Japanese Street Eats

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Howe Street, Vancouver
BC, Canada
(604) 375-4822
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Chicken Karaage is Japanese deep-fried chicken and a staple at all the izakayas in town. A great chicken karaage should be marinated with soy and ginger, and deep fried to golden brown; creating a thin crispy coating that encases a moist and juicy seasoned piece of boneless chicken. The folks are Mogu make a phenomenal chicken karaage. Each piece is juicy and has a subtle hint of the ginger marinade. This food truck’s fried chicken is crispy on the outside yet not greasy at all.Mogu top their karaage with a simple aromatic sweet chili sauce.

8. Aki Japanese Restaurant

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1368 W. Pender St., Vancouver
BC V6E 4S9, Canada
(604) 682-4032
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Aki is one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in the city and has been in operation in various locations since 1963. Although they serve sushi, Aki’s best dishes come from the cooked food side of the menu. Their robata grilled miso-marinated black cod is a must-order. With the sablefish slow-grilled over charcoal, this technique releases all the buttery flavor of this local sustainable fish which pairs well with the miso marinade. The robata also imparts a slight charcoal flavor. In addition, look out for Aki’s Zosui offering, a rarity in the city. It is similar to congee except it is made from already-cooked rice. Just like congee it’s a great dish to have if you are feeling under the weather or hung over.

9. Guu Original

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838 Thurlow St., Vancouver
BC V6E 1W2, Canada
(604) 685-8817
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Oden is a popular Japanese soul-warming stew-like dish, consisting of ingredients like daikon, fish cakes and eggs simmered in a flavored dashi broth. There are multiple variations on ingredients and the broth used, which distinguish one region’s Oden from another in Japan. Pick from 10 different ingredients at Guu ranging from Konnyaku (yam cake) to Atsuage (deep fried tofu). Daikon is great choice as it can absorb the flavors of the broth.

10. Kamei Baru

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990 Smithe St, Vancouver
BC V6Z 2K7, Canada
(604) 559-8588
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Karē means curry, Japanese curry is a Yoshoku dish and surprisingly not based on Indian curry but the British interpretation of Indian curry. At Kamei Baru buried deep within its expansive menu is a hidden gem, the Baru Wine curry: a uniquely complex-tasting dish with layers of flavor. On first taste you detect the wine and the characteristic sweetness of Japanese curry, followed by a savory quality from mushrooms, beef and bay leaves. This standout rich-hued curry is served with rice and your choice of Katsu (breaded pork cutlet) chicken, beef humberg steak (that’s how it’s spelled on the menu) or oyster.

11. Guu Garden

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M101 - 888 Nelson St, Vancouver
BC V6Z 2H2, Canada
(604) 899-0855
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Chazuke, sometimes referred to as ochazuke, is simply water, tea or broth poured over rice served with savory toppings. Guu garden serves a delicious grilled beef tongue chazuke. The kanto-daki broth is brought out in small teapot alongside the dish of rice and grilled beef tongue. The tongue has an intense beef flavor and gives the dish more sustenance. Overall, this dish is a simple savory light snack. [Image via Henry Faber/Flickr]

1. Sushimoto

102-2201 Holdom Ave, Burnaby, BC V5B 0A2, Canada
This tasty crispy dish is a part of the Yoshoku group of foods; a Japanese take on Western dishes which were introduced into Japan’s diet during Emperor Meiji’s reign (1867 – 1912). The korokke is a Japanese version of the French croquette. The korokke at Sushimoto is unique because there are two types: a regular potato edition studded with kernels of corn and a kabocha version. The kabocha korokke is mildly sweet and earthy. The veggie korokke are crispy on the outside but nice and soft on the inside. Both golden patties are drizzled with an okonomiyaki sauce, adding a nice sweet taste. [Image Via I Believe I Can Fry/Flickr]
102-2201 Holdom Ave, Burnaby
BC V5B 0A2, Canada

2. Hyoga

#2 - 3343 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5R 5K6, Canada
Nasu Dengaku is miso-glazed grilled eggplant. It is simple and classic way to prepare Japanese eggplants, which are more slender and elongated in comparison to the squat eggplants common in North America. At Hyoga the Nasu Dengaku is beautifully presented in a round stack. Eggplants don’t really have strong taste of their own and have the ability to soak up flavor like a sponge. As a result it pairs well with stronger flavor of the miso in this dish. The small pieces of eggplant are tender and bursting with the absorbed flavor of the sweet and salty miso sauce.
#2 - 3343 Kingsway, Vancouver
BC V5R 5K6, Canada

3. Tatsu Japanese Bistro

1441 Commercial Dr., Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y2, Canada
Nabeyaki Udon is a hearty noodle dish traditionally cooked and served in a metal pot or heavy ceramic casserole dish. Enveloped in delicious broth and paired with al dente udon, this dish contains meat, veggies, Tempura and a poached egg. Gently mix the runny egg yolk into the soup to add a taste of creaminess to the dish. Tatsu Japanese Bistro serves a superbly executed nabeyaki udon that is loaded with ingredients swimming in a broth that has a real deep concentrated taste without the hint of artificial dashi.
1441 Commercial Dr., Vancouver
BC V5L 3Y2, Canada

4. Marulilu Cafe

451 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1R4, Canada
Omurice is another Yoshoku food and the Japanese version of an omelette. Instead of fillings like mushrooms or ham, the Japanese stuff theirs with seasoned or plain rice then to it with a simple sauce like tomato or gravy. At Marulilu Café, there are four types of omurice: the lightest is served with ketchup while the Omu Hayashi Rice served with a beef gravy is the heaviest. Marulilu Café's rendition is not quite traditional as the rice is not tucked into the egg but rather the egg is molded onto the rice. However, it still embodies the simple, tasty and satisfying spirit of the dish. Really, can you go wrong with either rice and gravy or egg and tomato combinations?
451 W Broadway, Vancouver
BC V5Y 1R4, Canada

5. Minami Restaurant

1118 Mainland St., Vancouver, BC V6B 2T9, Canada
Tsukemono are Japanese preserved vegetables, served as a snack or as a side dish. Japanese pickles are an important part of the culture’s cuisine. They help stimulate one’s appetite, provide a refreshing contrast to heavier tasting food or can act a palate cleanser. On Minami’s bar bites menu they serve Suzuke-style pickles of local seasonal vegetables in rice vinegar - in addition, Minami also uses kombu and a chili marinade to create their own crisp and refreshing tsukemono. They act as a perfect acidic foil to their heavier aburi-style sushi.
1118 Mainland St., Vancouver
BC V6B 2T9, Canada

6. Tsuki Sushi Bar

509 Abbott St., Vancouver, BC V6B 0J9, Canada
Chawan Mushi literally means 'steamed in teacup' and left to skilled hands, Chawan Mushi is made from a mixture of egg, dashi broth, and morsels of meat and vegetables steamed precisely. At Tsuki Sushi Bar, their 3 types of Chawan Mushi (shrimp, crab and seasonal uni) are well-prepared and delicious. The egg custard has a delicate, smooth silken tofu-like texture. Each bite is filled with a subtle egg and umami flavor. Along with the feature protein, the chawan mushi comes studded with spinach leaves and a quarter of a Shitake mushroom, yielding a delicate yet complex tasting dish.
509 Abbott St., Vancouver
BC V6B 0J9, Canada

7. Mogu: Japanese Street Eats

Howe Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Chicken Karaage is Japanese deep-fried chicken and a staple at all the izakayas in town. A great chicken karaage should be marinated with soy and ginger, and deep fried to golden brown; creating a thin crispy coating that encases a moist and juicy seasoned piece of boneless chicken. The folks are Mogu make a phenomenal chicken karaage. Each piece is juicy and has a subtle hint of the ginger marinade. This food truck’s fried chicken is crispy on the outside yet not greasy at all.Mogu top their karaage with a simple aromatic sweet chili sauce.
Howe Street, Vancouver
BC, Canada

8. Aki Japanese Restaurant

1368 W. Pender St., Vancouver, BC V6E 4S9, Canada
Aki is one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in the city and has been in operation in various locations since 1963. Although they serve sushi, Aki’s best dishes come from the cooked food side of the menu. Their robata grilled miso-marinated black cod is a must-order. With the sablefish slow-grilled over charcoal, this technique releases all the buttery flavor of this local sustainable fish which pairs well with the miso marinade. The robata also imparts a slight charcoal flavor. In addition, look out for Aki’s Zosui offering, a rarity in the city. It is similar to congee except it is made from already-cooked rice. Just like congee it’s a great dish to have if you are feeling under the weather or hung over.
1368 W. Pender St., Vancouver
BC V6E 4S9, Canada

9. Guu Original

838 Thurlow St., Vancouver, BC V6E 1W2, Canada
Oden is a popular Japanese soul-warming stew-like dish, consisting of ingredients like daikon, fish cakes and eggs simmered in a flavored dashi broth. There are multiple variations on ingredients and the broth used, which distinguish one region’s Oden from another in Japan. Pick from 10 different ingredients at Guu ranging from Konnyaku (yam cake) to Atsuage (deep fried tofu). Daikon is great choice as it can absorb the flavors of the broth.
838 Thurlow St., Vancouver
BC V6E 1W2, Canada

10. Kamei Baru

990 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2K7, Canada
Karē means curry, Japanese curry is a Yoshoku dish and surprisingly not based on Indian curry but the British interpretation of Indian curry. At Kamei Baru buried deep within its expansive menu is a hidden gem, the Baru Wine curry: a uniquely complex-tasting dish with layers of flavor. On first taste you detect the wine and the characteristic sweetness of Japanese curry, followed by a savory quality from mushrooms, beef and bay leaves. This standout rich-hued curry is served with rice and your choice of Katsu (breaded pork cutlet) chicken, beef humberg steak (that’s how it’s spelled on the menu) or oyster.
990 Smithe St, Vancouver
BC V6Z 2K7, Canada

11. Guu Garden

M101 - 888 Nelson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2, Canada
Chazuke, sometimes referred to as ochazuke, is simply water, tea or broth poured over rice served with savory toppings. Guu garden serves a delicious grilled beef tongue chazuke. The kanto-daki broth is brought out in small teapot alongside the dish of rice and grilled beef tongue. The tongue has an intense beef flavor and gives the dish more sustenance. Overall, this dish is a simple savory light snack. [Image via Henry Faber/Flickr]
M101 - 888 Nelson St, Vancouver
BC V6Z 2H2, Canada