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Opinion: Best Sushi In Vancouver List..

betterthanbourdain May 14, 2010 03:30 PM

Not Izakaya or Robata Japanese restaurant. Rate perhaps your top 3 in the last 12 months.

I'll list some of the contenders:

Tojo's, on Broadway
Octopus Garden, Kits
Dan's, on Broadway
Bistro Sakana, Yaletown
Blue Water Cafe Raw Bar, Yaletown
Juno Sushi Bistro, Davie St
Miku, West Hastings
Ajisai Sushi Bar, Kerisdale
Lime, Commercial Drive, (fmed how was your recent meal here? is it sushi orientated?)

Takumi Sushi, West Vancouver

Sushi Hachi, Richmond
Maruwa Sushi, Steveston
Seto Sushi, Richmond

What did i leave out or what should i remove from the list?
Love to hear your opinions and feelings regarding sushi in the city and beyond.

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  1. fmed RE: betterthanbourdain May 14, 2010 05:55 PM

    I had the Omakase at Lime, so it was a mix of sushi and kitchen items. The sushi was great, the kitchen items were mixed - some items were great, but some others fell a little flat. I think that kitchen chef Kayo Uki (formerly of Yoshi) is no longer with Lime. (I could be wrong, I should ask...I don't see her signature hand-made soba noodles on the menu).

    I do like the raw stuff at Lime - very good sushi here. Is it the best? It's the best in my neighbourhood for sure and literally around the corner from where I live. I think it has some of the best sashimi in town.

    Vancouver has many many mediocre sushi places. I'm also a bit off sushi these days - only eating it once every couple of months (instead of my former 3 times a week).

    My "favourites" (rather than "best") are:

    Lime (mostly modern - Atsu Inomata was known for his traditional sushi when he was the itamae at Sushi Sakae, and Masa Kudo was at Tojo's and Blue Water)
    Sushi Hachi (Haruo Kojima - mostly traditional - lots of unusual fish and grilled/fried items)
    Blue Water's raw bar (Yoshi Tabo who used to own Yoshi - mostly traditional)
    Octopus' Garden (Sada Hoshika - more modern)

    I need to try Maruwa (Steveston) and Kimura (Renfrew). Seto is good, but it's been a while.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fmed
      fmed RE: fmed May 15, 2010 03:29 PM

      Quick report on Sushi Kimura (Itsoroku Kimura - itamae). (Thanks for the lead Kentan):

      The shari (rice) is well prepared - not too loose - not too compressed...and well balanced (subtle vinegar). He uses Yamagata Haenuki rice. I don't know if I can detect the nuances in flavour between that and regular sushi rice (eg Calrose). I think it is longer, less glutinous, less sweet, less glossy and has a resilient "tooth".

      I sat at the bar and had a near-omakase experience. He served me the nigiri one or two pieces at a time.

      The Neta (toppings) are outstanding. The only fish that he uses that has been previously flash-frozen is the salmon (for hygenic reasons) - everything else is flown in fresh - including the tunas. He preps the fish himself (eg salting, marinating, brining for some types) and has his own blast freezer.

      I sampled the Horse Mackarel, Spanish Mackarel, the Uni, Amberjack (listed by its latin name Seriola Dumerili), Squid, Striped Bass, Yellowtail, Amaebi, and a few others. He offered me small tastes of various fish that he had as proof of their quality.

      All very traditional Nigiri (he does do the more familiar rolls if asked). I do note that he brushes his own soy-based sauce on nearly every piece - no need to dip. The gari (ginger) is also excellent.

      Kimura-san tells me that this is his "retirement" from the business. He doesn't want to run a large sushi restaurant like he had in Santa Monica, CA, and he isn't interested in playing golf everyday...so he makes sushi.

      I also noted the the yoshoku menu with some of the usual items and two types of ramen (miso and shoyu - $7.25?). I may partake in the ramen one day.

      1. re: fmed
        el_lobo_solo RE: fmed May 15, 2010 05:50 PM

        I got that near-omakase experience too. Kimura-san was busy at the helm, but he knew when I was ready for the next piece of nigiri. Did you notice if a take-out menu ready yet?

        1. re: el_lobo_solo
          fmed RE: el_lobo_solo May 15, 2010 10:29 PM

          It was ready. I saw a number of chalkboards with the takeout items listed. One person was waiting at a nearby table for take out. (California rolls...you know...)

    2. _
      _js_ RE: betterthanbourdain May 14, 2010 06:03 PM

      Agree with fmed that it's very easy to get mediocre sushi around here, which is why I don't go for sushi very often (probably once in 3 months, maybe more during the summer or when it's warm). We usually go to Ajisai in Kerrisdale because it's in the neighbourhood. Seto in Richmond once in a while.

      4 Replies
      1. re: _js_
        grayelf RE: _js_ May 14, 2010 11:09 PM

        For me it's Lime (though I haven't been recently enough to note the changes), Kibune and now Dan. I'm kinda backlogged on posts but had a recent meal there that was pretty outstanding, for sushi, sashimi and kitchen stuff. Also loved Sushi Hachi when we went in the fall but haven't made it back. Intrigued by Juno which I've been eyeing as I walk to and from screenings.

        1. re: grayelf
          mh0408 RE: grayelf May 15, 2010 04:34 AM

          I believe you missed out on Samurai Sushi House or Sushi King House on your list up there as the best sushi in Vancouver. Year after year, they serve delicate yet large portions of sushi........

          OKAY, jokes aside,
          It's hard to list a top 3, but my top choice would be Sushi Hachi. Not only is their fish fresh and unique (madai, shimajji etc, from Japan), but also I find their rice to always be consistently good. Very flavorful and not mushy. Oh my, the rice is heavenly. I could eat a bowl of just the rice any day :P

          1. re: mh0408
            betterthanbourdain RE: mh0408 May 18, 2010 12:36 PM

            hehe... yes can also add Sushi Garden to your list. yes these places serve really good sushi. also like that you can soak up the soya sauce(with wasabi of course) on your rice before consuming it. :-D
            seriously though, sushi chef should prepare the rice and season each individual sushi based on the item appropriately.
            seems like in richmond sushi hachi is the fav for many here.

        2. re: _js_
          betterthanbourdain RE: _js_ May 18, 2010 02:21 PM

          yes agree on the mediocre sushi around. guess we are conditioned now to love our locally acclimatised Japanese food. where does one find a 'Canuck Roll' in Tokyo?

        3. j
          JEheartbreak RE: betterthanbourdain May 15, 2010 06:49 AM

          I remain a devotee of Honjin in Yaletown. Blue Water is tops for me though -- except for the hit to the wallet.

          3 Replies
          1. re: JEheartbreak
            mshumi RE: JEheartbreak May 15, 2010 02:19 PM

            HonJin is impeccable. I don't know how they do it, but a simple piece of sashimi at Honjin puts everyone else to shame. If they happen to have live uni on the menu (they only have it in season), order it no matter how much they are charging.

            1. re: mshumi
              fmed RE: mshumi May 15, 2010 03:38 PM

              I used to eat at Honjin at least once a week...agreed it is good.

              1. re: fmed
                lunchslut RE: fmed Feb 5, 2011 10:29 PM

                I used to go to Honjin regularly until both their restaurants were caught up in that tax evasion software scandal that hit several Asian restaurants a few yearss back...just couldn't forgive them...

          2. LotusRapper RE: betterthanbourdain May 16, 2010 10:20 PM

            It's been quite awhile since I've been, but KURA on Kingsway in Burnaby (between Wilson & Olive) was very good the times I was there.

            I concur with Ajisai. Glad to see them still garnering favorable reviews.

            1. b
              betterthanbourdain RE: betterthanbourdain May 18, 2010 12:56 PM

              Sushi Kimura, Renfrew
              Kibune Sushi, Yew(Kits)
              Honjin, Yaletown
              Kura, Kingsway(Burnaby)

              to the list based on the responses

              based on Fmeds report, I am interested in trying Sushi Kimura.
              I will add Lime and Dan on my list as well. Thanks Grayelf!
              My one experience at Kibune and several at Honjin didnt 'wow' me enough for more visits. Seeing there are other options and choices. Though both were solid experience in the food department.
              Thanks LotusRapper for suggesting Kura. I think I've been to Sushi Garden enough times when I am in the metrotown area.

              Just curious, when they say they import the fish themselves, how does that work? Do they order from a supplier from (i.e.Japan) and that particular cut gets flown in directly to the store?

              4 Replies
              1. re: betterthanbourdain
                farman RE: betterthanbourdain May 18, 2010 02:31 PM

                I've enjoyed Kibune, but actually disliked Honjin.

                To your original list, Blue Water (my favourite), Tojo's and Octopus Garden have all treated me well. Miku I really want to like, and have had some good sushi there, but have also had some lackluster sushi. Lime I enjoyed, but I had more kitchen items there.

                Not in the same league, but I like Temaki on Broadway as a reasonably priced neighbourhood joint. Sitting at the bar and either just ordering piece by piece or having the chef/owner do an omakase-like experience has usually left me pretty satisfied. I just find that the quality of the fish is better than most neighbourhood joints (ie, much nicer than what I've had at Honjin).

                Miku Restaurant
                1055 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9, CA

                1. re: farman
                  fmed RE: farman May 18, 2010 02:54 PM

                  It's has been a few years since I have been to Honjin (I used to work in Yaletown). Back then it was good....no recent experiences to compare, however.

                  1. re: farman
                    12pines RE: farman Mar 2, 2011 03:20 PM

                    Ditto on Temaki. Big fan of the Chef’s Roll and Banzai Roll. Remarkably fresh every time I eat there. Thoughtful presentation of the dishes.

                  2. re: betterthanbourdain
                    fmed RE: betterthanbourdain May 18, 2010 02:52 PM

                    >> "Just curious, when they say they import the fish themselves, how does that work? Do they order from a supplier from (i.e.Japan) and that particular cut gets flown in directly to the store?"

                    Sushi restaurants would go through a broker/wholesaler who would handle all the paperwork and shipping and even purchasing at Tsukiji. Some fish come to Vancouver fresh (eg Yellowfin, Bigeye, etc.) regularly. Most sashimi fish is flash frozen - "local" Albacore, etc....but it is possible to get it fresh too.

                    Higher-end sushi restaurants often get the fish fresh...then they actually age it for a while...then sometimes it is brined or salted depending on the fish.

                    90% of the sushi in Vancouver is flash-frozen however. This type fish is readily available at places like Angel Seafoods where many if not most of the middle-grade sushi bars get their frozen fish. Angel does source good fresh stuff like uni, etc. (You have to ask at the front counter for the fresh list.)

                  3. y
                    yyztoyvr RE: betterthanbourdain Jan 9, 2011 08:19 PM

                    Just tried Kimura. Probably the food quality was exceptional. I say probably, because, since we had a time constraint (don't go there if you're in a hurry), we actually had to take the last few courses of the Omakase as take out, which ruined it for us.

                    Service was painstakingly slow, all around. When at around an hour, we asked how much longer for the Omakase, the server said that Omakase takes around an hour. We said it's been an hour. At about an hour and a half, we had to leave, unfortunately.

                    Food was, whatever we ate there, was fresh, exceptional, and great value. What we took out, of course, was later soggy, etc., not palatable, since there was some deep fried brown rice and egg plant going on there with spicy tuna.

                    Fresh sea urchin was fresh - we saw the chef crack open the sea urchin! None of that preservative marinated sea urchin.

                    Sashimi was fresh, but three pieces of everything and then one piece of salmon?!?

                    Chawan Mushi was one of the best, piping hot and full of flavour.

                    We'd go back there, but probably would sit at the sushi bar.

                    We haven't been out in a while, but for the food quality, would rate Kimura top three or five in Vancouver.

                    Service really sinks Kimura.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: yyztoyvr
                      dimples_323 RE: yyztoyvr Jan 13, 2011 08:49 PM

                      I went to Sushi Kimura for lunch and didn't get a chance to try the sushi (I had grilled saba and my husband had curry) but I agree, things are very slow there. I think it's a combination of too few waitstaff and the fact that the food itself takes awhile to make. However the waitress we had seemed to really care about the food and the place itself, which was nice to see.

                      I'd like to go back and try the sushi - and adjust my expectations about the speed!

                      1. re: dimples_323
                        betterthanbourdain RE: dimples_323 Jan 17, 2011 03:01 PM

                        agree that the service needs improvement. best to sit at the sushi bar imho.
                        while the servers have been 'nice', they just dont get it when it comes to service in a restaurant, due most likely to lack of experience and training.

                    2. s
                      selena03 RE: betterthanbourdain Jan 24, 2011 07:41 PM

                      I tried Bistro Sakana over the weekend and wasn't very enthused about my food. I found the portion sizes tiny and the items to be quite expensive. The service however was outstanding. I ordered a dynamite roll, lobster roll, green beans gomae, agedashi tofu, and yam fries. The tofu was good but not particularly better than other places. Yam fries were good because of the crispy tempura coating and I was glad the portion was small as they were highly addictive. Green beans-not enough of them. As for the rolls, I always have mine with brown rice, in my quest to be healthy (yes, I ordered the yam fries:), and I am pretty used to eating rolls this way so normally I can't even notice that's brown not white but in this instance the rice was mushy so I didn't really enjoy them at all. Maybe it was an off night and the rice is usually better?

                      Also, off topic sort of...any sushi restaurants that are acceptable in the Denman area? I am often in that neighbourhood now but don't know what's good and what isn't.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: selena03
                        LotusRapper RE: selena03 Jan 24, 2011 09:09 PM

                        Yes, Toratatsu on Denman, between Robson and Alberni. Small, but clean place. Very good sashimi.


                        Hey you know what, this is perhaps an often-overlooked izakaya/sushi joint, never mentioned alongside the big guns (Hapa, Guus, Kingyo, etc) but very credible. I never remember to mention them.

                      2. c
                        cdnprairiedog RE: betterthanbourdain Jan 25, 2011 08:16 AM

                        +1 for Ajisai. Nice vegetarian choices, and the best tasting rolls I've had.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cdnprairiedog
                          LotusRapper RE: cdnprairiedog Jan 25, 2011 01:50 PM

                          Tempura rolls made with corn flakes :-D

                        2. NoMoreSnuggles RE: betterthanbourdain Jan 25, 2011 09:02 AM

                          I'm often surprised that people on this board don't mention Zest more. I haven't been in a little while but it's always been really solid IMO.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: NoMoreSnuggles
                            felix the hound RE: NoMoreSnuggles Jan 25, 2011 12:47 PM

                            Blue Water and Tojo's ( many years ago) are still my most memorable sushi

                          2. iL Divo RE: betterthanbourdain Feb 1, 2011 09:54 AM

                            Has anyone gone into Yamato's on Davie and Seymore?

                            1. m
                              Ms.chef RE: betterthanbourdain Feb 14, 2011 04:59 PM

                              I am so glad to see Octopus Garden on the list - but I do realize this thread is nearly a year old - I had the best Omakase experience a few years back at the OG and I was wondering if it was still just as good. I will be visiting Vancouver again in late August and I definitely want to do a sushi ... should I go back to OG or try a new place?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Ms.chef
                                grayelf RE: Ms.chef Feb 14, 2011 06:49 PM

                                I was so impressed with the omakase at Kimura that I ended up going twice in less than a week and got *no* repeats. Try to reserve a couple days ahead so he can do some cold dishes for you, and be sure to ask for the chawan mushi if you like that dish. The value is so excellent too that I'm hard pressed to see how other omakase could compete :-).

                                1. re: grayelf
                                  Ms.chef RE: grayelf Feb 14, 2011 10:09 PM

                                  Unfortunately, I will be staying at a B&B next to Granville Island and I won't have a car - I think Kimura might be too far. Any recommendations closer to downtown or the area I will be in?

                                  1. re: Ms.chef
                                    fmed RE: Ms.chef Feb 14, 2011 10:12 PM

                                    I like Miku on West Hastings. I think it is my favourite sushi place in the downtown area.

                                    1. re: Ms.chef
                                      Sam Salmon RE: Ms.chef Feb 15, 2011 07:28 AM

                                      Octopus Garden is a short walk http://www.octopusgarden.ca/

                                      Oyaji Zushi nearby http://dinehere.ca/vancouver/oyaji-zushi

                                      Sawa-not Sushi but still Japanese http://www.sawatea.com/

                                2. b
                                  barcosbarcos RE: betterthanbourdain Feb 15, 2011 11:10 AM

                                  I'd vote for SushiYama on Broadway. Probably not the best quality in the city for sashimi/nigiri but the fish is usually pretty fresh due to high customer volume. Some of their non-traditional stuff is quite good as well. Would recommend the sushi pizza and calamari roll. It's my favourite non-Japanese run sushi joint in the city and is quite affordable.

                                  Toshi-Sushi on 16th at Main is also pretty good for the price. Their battera is killer and his gindara is quite good as well. Anyone know if he does omakase there? That place is always too damn busy though.

                                  1. m
                                    mayaishi RE: betterthanbourdain Feb 17, 2011 10:02 PM

                                    For fresh, I have always gone to Tojo's. On one occasion, I asked how fresh the Odori (dancing) shrimp were, and the chef threw down several local spot prawns onto the counter where they did the watusi - "Very odori" we both agreed.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: mayaishi
                                      oiboy RE: mayaishi Feb 19, 2011 02:36 PM

                                      I like Ajisai for their seafood salad.
                                      Sushi Hachi in Richmond for their Chu-Toro Sashimi
                                      & Sakura Sushi in Richmond for their service simplicity and value. (Uni Nigiri's are right now a buck a piece.

                                      Sakura Sushi
                                      6390 No 1 Rd, Richmond, BC V7C1T3, CA

                                      1. re: mayaishi
                                        betterthanbourdain RE: mayaishi Feb 19, 2011 03:02 PM

                                        Been to Tojo's 4 times in the last 2 months. I wouldn't recommend it for the $$$. It is a culinary tourist destination. The service is very good, the room is nice and the food is good. Depending on your budget, Tojo's isn't great value for money. But it is the most notable Japanese restaurant in the city. I have never left Tojo's full after a meal that cost over $100p/p each minus drinks. I remember the first time I tried Tojo's in the old location. It was sublime. It doesn't have the same effect anymore. Perhaps I have been de-sensitized after more knowledge and experience with Japanese food over the years.

                                        I have had good experiences also at Ajisai(good) and Sushi Hachi(better) for straight sushi sashimi. They dont have much in the way of hot cooked items. Also Kimura is on my list of places i want to return, albeit it is too far for me.
                                        Miku is more like a Glowbal group restaurant serving japanese food, The food is inconsistent but the menu is large enough that groups of poeple will find something they will enjoy. The service, room and decor is professionally done which may be important to some.

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