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May 29, 2008 12:55 PM

Bostonhound presents Van sushi mystery

Ok so I am an idiot for not remembering but last year I ate at a CH suggested sushi place somewhere in greater Vancouver. We drove there to a residential suburban area. The place was in a small pedestrian outdoor mall area across from a little medical clinic and there were benches outside. There were railroad tracks nearby and the place had maybe 15 tables and a bar for 8 - 10. We ordered omakase and were tested with some fantastic whole baby squid. Once we were deemed ok we had an amazing dinner.

I have no clue of name or location. Can anyone help? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Zen in West Vancouver?

    1. Could it be the restaurant at 16th and MacDonald ? Beside Starbucks and across from Med. clinic ?.. the name is at the tip of my tongue ..

      21 Replies
      1. re: jmil

        Zest is on the corner of 16th and MacDonald. The tracks are just a few blocks east of there at Arbutus...

        1. re: peter.v

          If it had a water view, then it is probably Zen....which is also close to train tracks in West Van. The OP, rgmills, did mention that it was in a "residential suburban area" which qualifies West Van.

          Zen Japanese Restaurant
          101 - 2232 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, BC V7V 1K4, CA

          Zest Japanese Cuisine
          2775 W. 16th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6k 3C3, CA

          1. re: fmed

            Hehe, yeah. I've been to neither (and never really venture outside of Vancouver proper). I was just googling around based on jmil's suggestion. I forgot in my initial post to say Zest is most definitely not suburban in the context of Vancouver.

            1. re: peter.v

              All, thanks tons for the effort. Don't kill me but looking at a map it might have been in Richmond or even Ladner. The rail seemed like light commuter rail and water was not visible. The name seems like it was more multisyllabic and Japanese than Zen or Zest. We had a really nice dinner there and hoped to repeat it. As an aside we had Omakase at lunch today at Okada where we were very nicely served and had a solid but not extraordinary meal.

                1. re: fmed

                  Aaaaaargh - No! I think I have to wait till I return to Boston and can dig the takeout menu from the bottom of the drawer. When I do I promise to post the mystery solution although I can't imagine it will mean much to anyone but me. Looks like we head over to Richmond for XLB and sundry Shanghainese dishes (cold salted chicken) or seek some serious szechuan. Thanks to all.

                  1. re: rgmills

                    It has to be AJI SAI - I am certain. It is located ojust off of West 41st (west 42nd and arbutus) By far the best sushi in Vancouver for an outstanding price!

                    1. re: JWh

                      JWh it is indeed Aji Sai! Wow - thanks tons and thanks to all who tried. fmed especially and I love the fmed restaurant reviews. But JWh solved the mystery. We'll be there tomorrow night waiting in line for the sushi bar.

                      1. re: rgmills

                        RGmills, full props for loving Ajisai (it is one of the few restos I would consider standing in line for) but Kerrisdale is NOT a suburb of Vancouver. It is still very much considered an urb :-). Sorry for the didacticism but I grew up four blocks from there and that is Mum and Dad's "local" -- even though we do usually get takeout to avoid the lines!

                        1. re: grayelf

                          they open at 5pm so go early rather then late.
                          they are also open for lunch 11:30 -1:45.....

                        2. re: rgmills

                          AHA! Awesome. I just recently discovered Ajisai. It happens to be one block away from my new apartment. I'm going to have to be very disciplined so I don't blow my whole school year budget there! It truly is one of the best little places for sushi that I've found in Vancouver.

                          1. re: peter.v

                            I love Ajisai. The only thing I don't love at Ajisai is that they put corn flakes or rice crispies in some of their rolls b/c they don't have a deep fryer to make tempura prawns. Or maybe the cereal with prawn, wrapped in rice and seaweed is an acquired taste :)

                            1. re: im_hungry

                              That is something to note for sure, i_h and I think they warn you about this IIRC. I happen to like it, although it's obviously not tempura but I can't see how it wouldn't float your boat. The thing that I can't get my head around is the mountain yam. Now there's an acquired taste :-).

                              1. re: grayelf

                                I join i_h in dismay at the deep fryer shortage but if you put yourself in the hands of the sushi chef with an omakase order you don't end up with breakfast cereals. We arrived a few minutes after 5pm as JWh suggested and were promptly seated at the bar. As it did two year ago the meal began with the whole baby squid and an amazing miso based paste that had a bright citrusy flavor to accent the light ocean flavor of the squid. We each had 5-6 squid and they were fantastic. Next came a plate of bonito sashimi with a watercress like fresh garnish, thin slices of green onion and finished with ponzu. The bonito was dark, fresh, intense and meaty - wow. Next was a large plate of sashimi that included a chopped spanish mackerel with green onion that was garnished with spanish mackerel sans fillets and posed in a gracefule arch skewered with a bamboo skewer. Also included was geoduck, squid (served with a quail egg yolk in a dish that could be mixed with soy sauce for dipping - mmmn), sockeye salmon, octopus, ahi tuna and a few I didn't catch. Then came nigiri sushi with freshwater eel that was perfectly warm tender and sauced to a T, yellowfin, amberjack, geoduck, mackerel, and more. We finished with a beautiful clam and miso soup. Another meal to hold me for two years in Boston until I can be back. Shanghai river the night before for xlb, bee kim jerky today and a debate tonite about a second ajisai dinner or somewhere new. Vancouverites you have an amazing town for food that joins my world tour list with Paris, Shanghai, Istanbul and others. Thanks to the Van hounds who helped me overcome my lack of ajisai prep.

                                1. re: rgmills

                                  Thanks for the report rgmills. I will now add Aji Sai to my list. I'm starting to lose track of all the good sushi spots in town.

                                  1. re: rgmills

                                    Out of curiosity, if you don't mind me asking, was there a set price for omakase? Or, did you let them now when you were full? I would love to do this at Ajisai as a welcome back to Vancouver gift to myself (when I move back in September) but am a bit hesitant to enter without knowing how much I'll be paying.

                                    Glad to hear you enjoyed our town!

                                    1. re: peter.v

                                      peter.v - omakase is definitely something I would recommend and based on my experience the sushi chef is fine with you letting them know in advance a pp cost that you are looking for. In our case we put no limits on and the total came out at about $120 for two - an utter and complete bargain when you account for the quality of the meal. BTW I was reminded that I omitted the broiled black cod collar that we were served between the sashimi and the nigiri. Nicely salted and wonderfully rich with fat and gelatins that gave it an incredible mouth feel. If you do it I don't think you will be let down.

                                      1. re: rgmills

                                        Wow. That is a great deal... I'll definitely have to do that then. Thanks for the great review!

                                  2. re: grayelf

                                    Mountain yam is delicious. Is it the sliminess that bothers you?

                                  3. re: im_hungry

                                    Reading this thread made me want to try Ajisai. Until I got to the corn flakes bit. Is sushi containing tempura in that much demand that they have to fake it with processed breakfast cereal?

                                    The thought of fake tempura -- at a sushi joint of all places -- puzzles me.

                                    1. re: aburitoro

                                      Aburitoro, you called it. I have a slime issue :-). Also re cornflakes, I think it was in response to the demand specifically for a prawn tempura roll. I don't believe the flakes appear in other rolls, though I could be wrong on that.