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.  

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Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar (Vancouver, BC)

Blue Water Cafe 1It’s Valentine’s weekend, the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal is choked full of exhausted island travelers grimly thumbing through their neglected emails. The tension in the airless, reeking waiting room is so thick with worry that you could slice some off and sauté it. Two ferries have been canceled thanks to the hurricane currently pounding on the windows, and the lady with the tinkly voice on the intercom says it’s possible no-one will be returning to the island tonight… And yet, my wife and I are in pretty good spirits. (more…)

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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…)

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