Don at Kitsilano debuts refined Asian fusion dinner menu
Buttery salmon tartare, bing-bread buns with the glossiest golden crust, and a squid yuzu dashi broth so delicate and visually arresting it seems like it belongs on display, not on the dinner table.
But let’s step back a little, and start at the beginning.
Don at Kitsilano officially opened its doors to Vancouver in February, but the Kits-based restaurant is only now unveiling what can only be described as a refined Asian fusion dinner menu.
Don – which is opened by the same restaurateurs as Vancouver’s casual poké spot Pokey Okey – is a new venture for the group, a foray into more fine-dining, yet playful, approaches to Asian-inspired cuisine.
The dinner menu has only just launched this past weekend and, for now, it’s only on offer Fridays through Sundays, as the team tests out new recipes and fine-tunes its service.
We had the chance to try the menu in its early days this week, and were wowed by how each dish had an almost botanical quality to it, and by how much hand-crafted detail went into everything that came out of the open-concept kitchen space.
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Chef Victor He – the co-founder of Don, alongside Jonathan Watanabe – brought out several dishes from the restaurant’s work-in-progress dinner and prix-fixe menu for us to try, starting with a Bing and Butter dish comprised of the aforementioned soft bing bread, served alongside salted duck egg butter.
This comforting dish lays the groundwork for ever-increasing complex, yet nuanced, dishes throughout the meal, and was followed by He’s Cured Salmon Tartare – served with egg yolk and prawn-dusted rice crisps.
Other standout dishes include burnt pork jowl served with housemade kimchi and an Aburi salmon belly don with a sour poached tomato and yuzu dashi – by far our favourite moment of the meal.
Despite how refined this restaurant is, it still makes efforts to cater to younger (perhaps pickier) eaters, too, with a charming turtle-shaped bing bun, complete with a removable “shell” revealing a pizza filling inside (cute and delicious!).
Ending on a sweet note, we tried Don’s chocolate hazelnut ganache before Chef He gave us a little preview of a White Rabbit créme brulée he’s been working on perfecting as well – which, in our opinion, is pretty dang perfect.
From the hanging plants on the ceilings to the moss installations throughout to the floral resin insets in each table, dining at Don felt like entering some kind of underwater garden, where seafood, delicate dashi broths, and refined approaches to donburi coexist happily.
One thing to note about this spot is that it does not yet have a liquor licence – drink options currently include, coffee, tea, and a couple of zero proof beverages – so keep this in mind when planning your meal here.
Don at Kitsilano is currently open for brunch daily (except for Mondays) from 11 am to 4 pm and for dinner service from Friday to Sunday, 5 pm to 9 pm.
Don at Kitsilano
Address: 2186 W 4th Avenue, Vancouver