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Some Google Maps fun: Vancouver Izakaya Crawl


Ratings :

Cost -- $ cheap to $$$$ expensive

Food -- * Meh to **** Wow

Vibe -- ! Relaxed to !!!! Frantic

Not all of these places are pure Izakaya eg Japadog and the odd Sushi place


(Note: edited to update the Google maps URL.)

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  1. You left out Alpha Global Sushi at Helmcken and Richards.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kwailan4

      It should be there...you may have missed it as it is not listed alphabetically (I can't figure out how to do that in Google Maps). Thanks for the vigilance, kwailan4.

      BTW It's a living document and anyone is welcome to add/remove (if they close) places to the map. (I made it public).

    2. Tony Bordain has just told all of the USA about Japadog - in his new Vancouver No Reservations episode.

      3 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        I hope Noriki (the owner) works out some sort of franchising before the copycats (or copydogs) take to the streets all over North America.

        1. re: fmed

          Has anyone seen the Red Star hot dog stand outside St. Paul's Hospital on Burrard st? Looks like a "copydog". I haven't tried it because I always figure I could walk the extra 2-3 blocks to get to Japadog... but I'm curious if anyone else has tried.

          1. re: twinkienic

            I've done the same thing as you...walk right by it on the way to Japadog.

      2. I did a crawl at ground zero for Vancouver izakaya (Robson and Denman) last night. The restaurants I hit were: Guu, Guu with Garlic, Kingyo, and Zakkushi.

        Best dish of the evening - the Pork Cheeks at Kingyo. The best sake: Osake (artisinal sake brewed on Granville Island here in Vancouver).

        5 Replies
        1. re: fmed

          More cellphone photos:

              1. re: fmed

                All in one night? I'm so impressed! Sounds like a good night. How was Zakkushi? I have yet to try it.
                Have you ever been to Osake? They talk you through a tasting flight there... pretty fun!

                1. re: twinkienic

                  All in one night...one or two dishes and one carafe of sake per restaurant. Zakkushi was great. The grill guys were like rockstars. The cuttlefish is truly great and the plum sodas were very good too.

                  I have been to Osake a number of times. Worth going to.

              2. So a friend wanted to do the crawl with me. Too soon I thought, but I obliged. Once again, it was a Thursday night. We started early (6pm) and ended early (11pm). We hit: Toraratsu, Hapa, Kingyo, Zakkushi.

                Best sake of the evening: Ginjo Ginkara. Best dish: Table Seared Saba. Good times.

                Some cellphone pics (some are quite dark)

                1. More cellphotos

                  1. Chow's Lessley Andersen's article on Vancouver's izakaya scene:

                    I had the pleasure of accompanying Lessley and staff photographer Chris Rochelle a couple of months ago when they where researching and photographing for the story.

                    1. We had relatives from out of town who were staying in a hotel near Yaletown. They were eager to try some izakaya, but they had a 1 year-old (my nephew) so Robson and Denman was out. I decided to take them to Shiru-Bay Chopstick Cafe in Yaletown.

                      Now I had been there before and to be honest, I wouldn't normally recommend it for izakaya afficianadoes. I think that the food there is too "fusiony"...a caricature of Asian-fusion food....but it is "safe" for eaters who are reluctant to push their own gustatory envelopes. Well...this is Yaletown (not to dis some of the great restaurants there)...so the food does meet a certain type of expectation...and it is pricier than it should be.

                      Despite all my thoughts about this place, our visitors had a great time trying all the food. The waitresses were very attentive and were in love with my one year old nephew.

                      Overall, a "reluctant" and "qualified" thumbs up.

                      Some pics:

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fmed

                        Once again find myself agreeing with you FM! We went in the fall and although the food was pleasant and in a couple of cases quite good, it didn't feel much like an izakaya in my limited experiences of same (Hapa, Zakkushi, Gyoza King). It seemed a bit spendy and we had some crazy wait service issues, including one dish never showing up but our server was so sweet we didn't mind.

                      2. more (Shiru-Bay)

                        1. We seem to getting more requests for the Izakaya Crawl over the last little while. I suspect that tourist season is upon us and many visitors are doing their gastro-tourism planning now. I just thought I'd bump this thread.

                          Lessley Andersen's story about The Vancouver Izakaya Crawl on Chow:

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: fmed

                            BTW...if anyone has heard of a new izakaya, japa-tapa, asian fusion joint that is opening up, please post here, and I'll update my Google Map.

                            Any info about closures would be appreciated as well...for example, I hear Shiru-Bay may be closed or will be closing soon.

                            1. re: fmed


                              LOL -- love it.

                              Sorry to hear about Shiru Bay, though. I wonder what happened.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                Cactus Club will be expanding into that space. I now hear that Shiru-Bay is moving over to Denman St to bolster up that already dense izakaya scene. So I guess that will be good....it will force Shiru-Bay's chefs to up the ante. They will serve yakitori there now too, I hear.

                              2. re: fmed

                                Saw an add in Georgia Straight for a new japanese grill/bar/tapas on Pender - Irashai 1368 West Pender. Japanese Head Chef but Chinese GM (last name Mok).

                                Heard about a new izakaya on Jervis.

                                1. re: kwailan4

                                  Excellent - I'll be on the lookout.

                            2. My Izakaya Crawl Google Map was overwritten. When I attempted to update it, the Izakaya map seems to have become a map named "Sapna's Bachelorette Weekend". Similar things have happened before - random place entries were put into the the map in the past. I just chalked this up to Google glitches.

                              I will have to recreate the map over the next little while.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: fmed

                                Sorry to hear that, fmed -- that map was a valuable deliciousness finder. Hope you have the patience to rebuild it (the bionic map!).

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  I have it partially built. I just won't add my review scores and notes. No big deal really, it just concerns me that Google Maps may have a big security hole that allows for alteration without proper access rights. I have a Picasa account too. I should probably be equally concerned about my photos.

                                  1. re: fmed

                                    Just wondering if you've updated the map. I looked for it and it was indeed gone. It's a shame. I guess we'll just head to Robson and Denman and do our best.

                                    1. re: foxymoron

                                      Here is the most current one: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF...

                                      There are a few new ones that are not on that list. I've been too busy to dine these days.

                                      1. re: fmed

                                        Just added Barefoot Kitchen (yoshoku-ya) and Kakurenbou (izaka-ya). Gotta check both of these out. Barefoot got thumbs up from aburitoro and Kakurenbou (opened only a few months ago) has been getting great reviews.

                                          1. re: foxymoron

                                            I do have to note that not all the places listed are purely Japanese izakaya. There are a couple of sushi places, Japanese markets, JapaDog, Korean izakaya and homestyle places mixed in.

                                            1. re: fmed

                                              Great new article on the Vancouver Izakaya scene (by Chowhound smel) :


                              2. Just a short note: The original post has been edited to point to the correct Google Map. (Thanks davina, Jaquilynne and Chowteam!)

                                1. I can't believe that anyone can get to 4 of these places when they include Guu or Guu with Garlic in the list. They are the best in town and usually lined up out the door. Well worth the wait, especially Guu with Garlic. If the cerviche is on the menu when you are there, it is a must have. Beautiful presentation and wonderful taste.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: thewitt

                                    It's all in the scheduling (and choosing to go on a weekday will help too). Go early at the Guus and book for an 8 pm res at Hapa or Kingyo then onwards. After about 9:30, most of the places start to clear out (except the Guus and a few popular ones). If you look upthread, I did two Guus, Kingyo, and Zakkushi all in one evening. I do admit that weekend dining at these place are way more fun...lots more action and commotion.

                                    1. re: fmed

                                      I knew it would be tricky. Going on a Monday would be the only way to make that work. I'll have to try sometime, what fun!

                                      On a side note, I was at Guu (remember when it was Japanese Kitchen Rakuu?) last night and once again blown away with the atmosphere and food. Great flavours and a vibe like no other. The last few eatings I've had were at Guu with Garlic and that's probably on the top of my list - A bit more polished than the others. But the original is still a great place for a great time.

                                      1. re: thewitt

                                        Yes I remember when it was Raku....I work right above it in the same building at the time and I used to go there nearly daily. It was great...some really odd fusion food that you don't see in izakaya menus anymore (eg a miso-based soup with a boiled egg and a hotdog, etc.)

                                      2. re: fmed

                                        I was checking this thread for scheduling advice on a mini crawl and voila - awesome. We actually do have res at Hapa on a Saturday at 8. I'd like to try Kingyo as well as a Guu (or open to other suggestions), but SO is line-up adverse. Maybe we should just hunker down at Hapa and make it the evening's entertainment or should we be more adverturesome? Any thoughts/recent experiences?

                                        1. re: waver

                                          I would hit a Guu before your Hapa res. Spend an hour there then go to Hapa stay as long as you like there then head down to Zakkushi, Kingyo, Toraratsu, Gyoza King, or a Korean place...there are a few new ones (Wanoma(?), Shuraku, etc.). Just walk up and down Robson or Denman and pop in to something that looks interesting.

                                          1. re: fmed

                                            Just thought I'd report back that it worked out really well. It turned out the res was at Kingyo. We started at Guu Garlic at 6 (it filled up pretty quickly after that) to enjoy the craziness, then to Hapa to wind down, then finished more sedately at Kingyo, which probably had the best food overall.
                                            So much fun.

                                            1. re: waver

                                              Thanks for reporting back! Guu-Hapa-Kingyo is a great itinerary for a crawl. I haven't done one in months. It is a lot of fun - especially when the weather is nice.