Vancouverites love izakayas. These casual Japanese eateries and drinking dens are often likened to gastropubs, offering a varied selection of sharable, booze-friendly bites.
Featuring salty snacks, like steamed edamame, agedashi tofu, fried chicken, and grilled skewers, here’s a list of where to find the best izakaya restaurants in Vancouver.
This popular Japanese izakaya eatery and drinking spot on Denman Street not only offers visiting patrons an assortment of tapas style Japanese fusion food, but also a vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re seated at the bar or around a table dig into house specialities like raw Takowasabi (chopped octopus and pickles marinated in a wasabi flavoured sauce), yellowtail sashimi, and Ebi-Mayo (deep fried tempura battered black tiger prawns dipped in spicy chili mayo sauce). Wash these bites down with an ice cold Sapporo.
Address: 871 Denman 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 a hard-boiled egg), udon bowls, and grilled beef tongue, just to name a few. Hot and cold sake are also featured on the menu.
A relaxed izakaya eatery on the edge of Yaletown, Black Rice is a great little place to grab a drink and a bite to eat. Staples include the restaurant’s “teishoku” lunch sets (similar to Japanese bento boxes), as well as 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
Launching back in 2003, Hapa Izakaya remains one of the most popular izakaya restaurants in the city. Line-ups can be found most nights of the week at all three Vancouver-based locations. Each Hapa restaurant boasts a lively atmosphere and flaunts a menu composed of salads, sashimi, cold tapas, and hot tapas, as well as 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 long list of mocktails.
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
Located in North Vancouver Sansho promises an authentic Japanese experience, dishing up a variety of small plates, including edamame, hand-wrapped dumplings, fried chicken fitters, Panko-breaded deep-fried pork loin, lightly pan-seared tuna, marinaded squid, and a whole lot more.
Address: 707 Queensbury Avenue, North Vancouver
Somewhat hidden, this Main Street outlet offers a wide selection of dishes, including grilled meat and veggie skewers, sashimi, and udon bowls. Drink wise Zakkushi offers a collection of sake options — the restaurant even provides patrons with a flow chart labelling the different sake flavour profiles. Their fruity cocktails (think lychee liqueur and grapefruit juice) are must-tries.
Address: 4075 Main Street