Tojo’s (Vancouver, BC)

Tucked into an unassuming block of office buildings on Broadway, one of Vancouver’s busiest thoroughfares is a Tardis-like temple of Japanese gastronomy run by one of the planet’s most famous sushi chefs. This itamae titan is Hidekazu Tojo and unlike a lot of chefs with half a century of experience tucked under his apron he can be counted on to be at his restaurant nearly every day with a big smile to greet guests.  

(more…)

Read More

Soy-Braised Pork Loin

If you’ve ever been to a real Chinese market, have a Chinatown near you, or hell… If you’ve been to China you’ve seen and hopefully tasted Siu Mei in all of its barbecued, glistening glory. It’s a take-out tradition that goes back to Guangzhou in the days when every neighbourhood had a local “oven master” that would roast various animals in special sauce to perfection and sell them to their neighbours to eat with a bit of rice and pickles. (more…)

Read More

Miso-Marinated Scallops with Kiwi-Yuzu Salad

IMG_3224Massaging fresh Pacific Scallops with white miso and sake is a great way to add an extra savoury-sticky layer of flavour to their already dazzling natural sweetness and a quick sauté in butter takes it over the top. The accompanying salad utilizes flavours I learned back in my Wasabiya days that play well with scallops plus add a much-needed, butter-cutting citrus bite.

Everyone thinks that the scallop/kiwi pairing is weird, but not only is it legit delicious but (according to my former chef and mentor Hiro) it’s a classic way to prepare mollusks in Japan. Try a bit of the vinaigrette with a sliver of raw scallop and you’ll see. (more…)

Read More

Soy-Pickled Daikon Radish

Soy Pickled Daikon 1I’m back from my trip to the not-so-frozen East coast and have one more afternoon of relaxation before work begins anew. To cleanse my overstimulated mind of the past week’s wildness I’ve decided to spend the day puttering around the kitchen performing my favourite Zen tasks: Simmering stock, baking bread and making pickles.

The oldschool Japanese art of making pickles (tsukemono) was first taught to me by chef Hiro, who would make one or two batches of variously-preserved vegetables each week for the restaurant. They were usually simple to prepare and quick to get into the game (never taking more than 2-3 days to fully pickle) and always showcased the natural flavour of the vegetable. All that was needed to make ‘em was a container, salt, and something to apply pressure on top. (more…)

Read More

Zakkushi and Miku (Vancouver, BC)

zakk1A couple of months back, my chef and mentor Hiro loaded my co-workers Yuki, Azusa, and myself into the Wasabiya-mobile and swept us away to Vancouver for a bite at two of the city’s Canadian-Japanese hotspots. The first was Denman Street’s Zakkushi, and the second was Miku Restaurant located on West Hastings St. (although, now they’re in the process of moving to a waterfront location)

These two joints share a couple of remarkable things in common. Both started with a single location and conceptual vision (one owner or chef, one concept). Both became a hit and opened multiple incarnations in and around Vancouver. Both serve Japanese cuisine to the hungry Van public, albeit in very different styles, neighborhoods and price ranges… And both kitchens are full of people who want to yell at you. (more…)

Read More