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Apr 9, 2009 06:50 PM

Vancouver old-school sushi

Hi, I'm travelling to Vancouver solo next weekend, and I'm looking for a new sushi place to try in downtown. I'm staying at Hyatt Regency with no car.

I've already been to Miko, Yoshi and Hapa Izakaya. Though I like them all, I'm looking for an authetic, old-school Japanese restaurant near the hotel. For those who are curious to know, my favourite in Calgary is Zipang.

After doing some research on the board, I come up with the 2 choices:

1) Aki Japanese Restaurant
2) Okada Sushi

Which one is better for a solo diner who loves nigiri sushi?

PS: Will also check out Guu and some ramen places while there.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Aki, Okada are good bets is Yoshi. (I have heard rumblings of a decline at Okada, though...I haven't been in a while so I can't confirm).

    A bit of an odd rec: try the Raw Bar at Blue Water (this is where Yoshi the former owner of Yoshi's ) now works. Solid nigiri (and great oysters if you are into that).

    6 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      First, a shout-out to Fmed and the others on this board, who helped a Las Vegas Chowhound to navigate through a recent Vancouver week in style. We often ask questions up front in these forums, but are remiss in offering thanks afterwards, so in this case kudos to this particular board. I would second Blue Water as an option, especially for nigiri. Our dinner was so enjoyable there early in the week (including a couple of sushi courses as appetizers) that we want back to the Raw Bar after the theatre for a late-night bite a few evenings later. Just impeccable quality, and the freshest eel we have ever experienced anywhere. For a solo diner it is also a nice vibrant atmosphere.

      1. re: QAW

        Thanks for the report QAW....glad you had a good time. Where else did you go?

        1. re: fmed

          We narrowed our three dinners down to Blue Water (excellent all the way around); C (we hit them on an off-night in terms of service but the food was outstanding, a piece of sablefish that was so fresh, and had been handled so well by the kitchen, that we could have almost buttered bread with it; and the delight of finding Gulden Draak to pair with some chocolates to finish); and what was intended to be an Izakaya crawl ended up being a full evening at Toratatsu. We had only planned a first course or two, but there was a nice charm to the setting, and we were intrigued by some of the more unusual menu items (they have a bright young chef that has some French training in his background, which might explain some of the combinations). Since the theatre was part of our last night, it was a late lunch at Japa Dog, and then the Raw Bar at Blue Water for a late bite. We also ducked into Legendary Noodles on Denman to warm up on a cool rainy day, which is exactly what should be done on a cool rainy day.

          1. re: QAW

            Thanks for the report.

            I last time I went to Toratatsu was prior to the full transfer of the staff from Shiru-Bay (which closed down in Yaletown) and the food then was merely OK. I'm glad to here itn is doing well from the sounds of things.

            The proprietors (the Uno family) have a long history with izakaya - having a number of them in Japan. The chef is one of the family and you are right - he has classical European training.

            1. re: QAW

              I understand that the off-nights at C are a frequent event, and not just the service.

        2. re: fmed

          Blue water has excellent sushi. Be prepared to spend $$$$.

        3. Hi Fmed and Qaw, thanks for your recommendation of Raw Bar, but since I don't have a car, I'd prefer somewhere that I can walk to ...

          Any other suggestion?

          6 Replies
          1. re: Anomay

            It's two blocks to Aki, five blocks to Okada, 8 blocks to Yoshi, 11 blocks to Blue Water. If fmed says Blue Water, I say walk the extra blocks :-).

            1. re: grayelf

              Or you can hop on the Skytrain and get off at Stadium to shorten the walk.

              If you are looking for an old-school feel then Aki will be your place since Blue Water is quite modern (...the fish there is amazing). And although "you aren't supposed to" have sake with sushi (I do it all the time)...Blue Water also has the largest sake list in the city.

              1. re: grayelf

                Blue Water is only 11 blocks away? It looks a lot further than that ...

                I'll try going to Blue Water for the Fri night then. Thanks for the recommendation!

                1. re: Anomay

                  Blue Water definitely outstanding Sushi, but it's also not (at least to my perspective), "Old School Sushi".

                  1. re: Cancuk

                    It's definitely not old-school (the place is quite modern and they have modern rolls)...the rec is really just for the nigiri.

                    1. re: fmed

                      One of the reasons why we would have considered Blue Water as "old school" in terms of sushi after our visits was that their focus was much more on nigiri/sashimi than exotic combinations. There were only a half dozen rolls on the menu, as opposed to the phone books that we see at other places. Not sure if that is what the original topic question was referring to, but while the setting is modern, the focus really is on the freshness of the fish, and one of the ways that they accentuated that was with thicker cuts of nigiri (first-hand experience) and sashimi (visual only) than we are accustomed to.

            2. I know this is out of the area but I just wanted other Chowhounds to know about this gem I found. It's called Sushi Hachi in Richmond. It's a mom and pop's shop open only for a few hours a night and requires reservations. It's very traditional sushi and sashimi, super fresh, and many rare varieties. Some are flown in from Japan and I tried things I've never even heard of. Probably the best Otoro I've had in Vancouver. The info and a gallery can be found in my new blog post here:


              It was an amazing experience. I'm honestly not trying to promote my blog. I'd be happy if you'd just look at that gallery and nothing else :)

              6 Replies
              1. re: smel

                I've been to Sushi Hachi. It is great. Under the radar for sure.

                Great blog smel.

                1. re: smel

                  The pictures look great!

                  I wonder if there's a restaurant like Sushi Hachi in Vancouver?

                  1. re: Anomay

                    In Vancouver, the closest are Shiro, and Koko (also one of the oldest sushi places in town). Others here will have their own recs (Ajisai is a popular rec here.)

                    1. re: fmed

                      Thanks thanks :) It was hard keeping track of all the names I've never heard of :|

                      I'll try those recs, fmed. I've heard Ajisai is a good one too :) thanks.

                      1. re: fmed

                        I've gone to Koko's about a month ago. I think my expectation was very high after hearing people rave about including our japanese friends. I didn't think it was as fresh as it could be. Not bad, even the cooked food was good but something's missing that's for sure.

                        1. re: gourmet wife

                          Lime has the best sushi in this area. Koko is more a nostalgic rec.

                  2. I'm not sure where exactly the Hyatt is in Vancouver but the last time I visited Vancouver I had a great experience dining solo at Octopus Garden. I had the basic UMI Omakase and it was a great value for what you got. The quality of their sushi beats anything I've had in Calgary.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: slingshotz

                      I definitely recommend OG. I didn't this time because I didn't think it was "old-school" enough...but if Anomay is still reading this...OG is a great rec for nigiri as well.

                      1. re: fmed

                        Still reading ... and taking notes. :)

                        I'll let you guys know where I ended up with. So many choices! Wish I live in Vancouver for the sushi alone.

                    2. I've been to both recently, and I feel that Aki's food is much higher in quality. Okada is still no slouch though.

                      Aki seems also old school in the sense that they appear to separate the Japanese from the riff-raff (i.e. the non-Japanese). But beside that questionable behavior, the food is definitely top notch.