Friday, February 12, 2010

My Top 5 Japanese Restaurants

As I'm sure is quite clear by now, I have a thing for Japanese food. And I'm not alone; wherever you go in Vancouver, you will find plenty of sushi bars and Japanese restaurants to tempt your fancy. For international Olympic visitors, it can be a little daunting... after all, which places are best? Where should you eat?

Well, I am but one fan of Japanese food, but I do have a list of favorite places to go for a wonderful Japanese meal. All of these places have kept me coming back again and again and have stood out in my mind as unique and outstanding examples of Japanese cuisine. I've covered several of them before, but here they are in a ranked list. This is only my personal list, but considering what a fan I am, it should prove at least somewhat useful!

Although Japadog is indeed a fantastic place to eat, I nearly didn't add it as it's not what one would usually call a "Japanese restaurant." It's a hot dog stand, after all! But the addition of authentic ingredients and flavors make this uniquely Japanese in its own way; the okonomi dog, for example, does a great job of echoing the original dish that inspires it. Use of seaweed, plum, edamame and other elements make this stand out not only next to hot dog stands but to plenty of "real" Japanese restaurants, propelling it to the number five spot.

4. TIE: Richmond Sushi and One More Sushi
Richmond Sushi is the restaurant that introduced me to the joys of all you can eat sushi.  It's fast, cheap, and very satisfying. I particularly fell in love with their chopped scallop sushi, although since then Shin Ju has replaced them in my affections. If you are in Richmond for Olympic events, it's a great place to scope out for those hungry for sushi.

As for One More Sushi, it's a fantastic option for those on the UBC campus. As an undergrad, I went here almost every week for four years running. It doesn't hurt that it offers warm, comforting food for a student's budget. I think the thing that kept me coming back again and again was the katsudon; the egg and sauce was moist and sweet and soaked into the vermicelli and rice perfectly. It also did excellent seafood motoyaki (which is entirely too easy to mess up, in my experience).

3. TIE: Guu and Gyoza King

I really can't choose between these two places; they're both excellent examples of izakaya dining. Guu commands a bit more popularity among Vancouver foodies and has more experimental dishes available, but Gyoza King commands a lot of loyal customers and offers a welcoming, homey atmosphere as well as both soothing and adventurous dishes (only try the natto if you're willing to take a risk!) Both restaurants attract a lot of Japanese ex-pats as well as food fans like myself, and they both are staffed by cheerful waiters and waitresses eager to serve. If you want something more than just sushi and noodles, you must try one or both of these places!

Nothing quite beats good Japanese delivery, and Shin Ju... well, delivers! Sit in customers can enjoy the same super-fast service as well as a wide assortment of great sushi and unusual dishes like okonomiyaki and takoyaki. There's also a really robust all-you-can-eat option for lunch and dinner that's guaranteed to fill you up. This has been one of my favorite places in Vancouver for years and continues being my delivery of choice during weekends. 

1. Kadoya

When a Vancouver sushi restaurant manages to outshine sushi back in Japan, you know you've found something special. Kadoya has some of the best rolls around, with plenty of mouth-watering toppings and fillings to satisfy any diner. Locals and Olympic visitors alike will find this place not only a good deal but a great restaurant in general. If you want to experience the best sushi that Vancouver has to offer without paying gourmet prices, don't leave the city without dropping by!

And there you have it, my top recommendations for Japanese food. What better way to fill up after the Opening Ceremonies?

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