Vancouver is simply bursting with Japanese dining options, from traditional sushi houses to funky ramen joints. However, where should you head when you want neither of these things but desperately crave Japanese cuisine?
Offering izakaya-style small plates, fresh fish, and sizzling meat skewers straight of the grill, here is a list of Vancouver’s best Japanese restaurants, perfect for when you’re not in the mood to eat just sushi or ramen.
Located on Cambie Street (near Broadway) this compact Japanese eatery offers an array of appetizing dishes, boasting Japanese flavours with Western twists. In addition to Wasabi Mayo Chicken Subs, this bright and airy spot also offers a Hawaiian Ahi Poke Bowl (raw marinated tuna salad), smoked wild salmon Eggs Benedict, and a wild salmon carpaccio bowl.
Address: 2328 Cambie Street
Authentic izakaya food and drink offerings can be found at the Guu family of restaurants. In addition to their energetic greetings, the Japanese tapas spots are known for their fresh and flavourful small plates, which include spicy calamari, lightly seared tuna sashimi, kobucha croquettes (made with pumpkin and an entire hard-boiled egg), udon bowls, and grilled beef tongue, just to name a few. Hot and cold sake are also featured on the menu.
Address: Multiple locations (check website)
Spaghetti is the name of the game at this unique West End eatery, which serves up a tantalizing fusion of Japanese and Italian cuisine. While customers can order more traditional Italian-inspired spag bowls (think tomato cream with chicken), they also have the option to dig into exciting and unique creations like the Mentaiko bowl, which is comprised of mentaiko (cod roe), shrimp, and assorted mushrooms, topped with dried seaweed.
Address: 1741 Robson Street
This casual West Broadway joint serves an assortment of Japanese-inspired food offerings to accompany the drinks poured. Patrons can expect to discover a range of libations, including beer, wine, Japanese vodka, scotch, sake, and cocktails on the drinks menu, which are offered alongside tempting plates of tuna sashimi and avocado, Aburi yellowtail carpaccio, lightly seared stingray fin, grilled sable fish, and tako (octopus) karaage.
Address: 1626 West Broadway, Fairview
Taking its name from Ku-shi, the Japanese word for skewer, Q Shi Q serves authentic and flavourful Yakiniku, which translates to grilled meat. Japanese salads, sides and specials feature alongside a variety of chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and veggie skewers, on the menu and include a kale gomaae salad, savoury garlic rice, Japanese pickles, Karaage chicken, 48 hour pork belly skewers, and many more enticing options.
Address: 159 West 4th Avenue
Black Rice is a Japanese izakaya-style eatery and drinking spot on Cambie Street, which offers diners an appetizing menu full of small plates. Specializing in “teishoku” lunch sets (similar to Japanese bento boxes) and tapas-style dishes, the restaurant prepares agedashi tofu, wasabi octopus served with roasted seaweed, chicken karaage donburi, yaki udon, bacon and shrimp Ishiyaki, and grilled miso-zuke (pickled) pork.
Address: 782 Cambie Street
A combination of creative cocktails and Japanese tapas-style eats, are what you can expect to find at this Point Grey establishment (affiliated with Suika). Sip on one of Rajio’s famous fruit punches, comprised of homemade juicy fruit punch served in a fresh mini watermelon or pineapple, while tucking into dishes like Kushikatsu (deep-fried skewered meat), corn karaage, black sweet and sour pork ribs, pan fried udon noodles, crispy chicken skin, and more. West End locals should check out Rajio’s sister restaurant Kingyo on Denman, for equally great eats.
Address: 3763 West 10th Avenue, Point Grey
Enjoy premium sake, fresh seafood and meat in Japanese izakaya style, and a welcoming atmosphere at this unassuming Japanese-inspired bar and bistro on Granville Street. For a mouthwatering and memorable eat, try the eatery’s fall-off-the bone tender Canadian pork back ribs glazed with a Japanese BBQ sauce.
Address: 833 Granville Street
This casual-upscale Japanese small plates-style eatery has been keeping customers satisfied with their offerings since 2003. All three Vancouver-based locations offer a menu comprised of salads, sashimi, cold tapas, and hot tapas, in addition to rice and noodle dishes. From the bar diners will find an array of cocktails, beer, cider, wine, Champagne, sake, shochu (Japanese distilled liquor), and a variety of mocktails.
Address: Multiple locations (please check website)