Dan Sushi: raw fish and other goodies for grownups in Vancouver
Maybe it's just the summer cold I am suffering, but I have become a bit tired of all those crazy rolls at sushi restaurants. I'm not saying I don't want to try new things but some of the combinations have become a little too eclectic for me.
If I'm in the mood for more traditional Japanese food served with flair and just enough imagination, I'd be inclined to make a reservation at Dan Sushi on West Broadway in Kitsilano. I took my parents there in the late spring (yup, behind on posting big time) and we had an excellent meal. It is not inexpensive to dine here but it is good value. We had some stellar plates, and no failures -- the closest was a slightly overdone pork belly dish.
Pacing was great, the atmosphere is relaxing. Service was ocassionally a bit odd but not enough to be off putting. The spacing between the tables is a mite squeezy as my mum noticed when a substantial personage was trying to get in and out of his seat at the bar beside our table. Because they do a fair amount of grilling, it can get a bit smokey, so don't wear your silk duds :-). Also leave the small people at home for this resto. Not salutary for kiddies. And the lighting is very dim which isn't a problem unless you are trying to take food pix without a flash. Please excuse the quality of the attached photos :-).
Dan excels at tempura, which is a feat I think. The asparagus was spot on (first pic) and served with a curry flavoured salt which I thought would be strange but worked really well. The other standout tempura dish was prawns with shiso leaf. Drool.
They also serve chawan mushi, a favourite of dad's that is relatively hard to find, at least a well-executed one. I include two bad photos because I loved the little pot it came in.
Next it was on to the ankimo. Now, I am not a fan of any kind of liver, but this was some mighty fine monkfish organ :-). Very smooth with lots of flavour but not too strong.
Uzusukuri is a must-order for me and Dan's platter of paper thin white fish did not disappoint. It was hirame IIRC, but I'm floundering a little as it was several months ago :-).
We ordered a dish of beef (tenderloin?) that had peppercorn like beasties on top of it (final pic). This dish was tasty in and of itself, but what put it over the top was the ma la imparted by these little round dealies. Why oh why didn't I write this ingredient down?
We also had local tuna sashimi, avocado roll, unagi, deep fried octopus and several desserts including yuzu ice cream and a creme caramel that was surprisingly good.
I recall they had a decent selection of sake and ume wine as well.
We will be back once the warmer weather subsides (no AC here).
Nice write-up and I couldn't agree more, this is a lovely place. It is ruining any meager chow credentials I might have had as its hard for us to ever go anywhere else. The owners are very welcoming and come up with great daily specials. I've been known to beg shamelessly for the asparagus with curry salt even when I know its out of season. We long ago gave up the notion of trying to share the spicy tuna sashimi: the marriage is safer if we each just order our own. That beef peppercorn thing is awesome. I'll have to try the others things you mention, not familiar with chawan mushi. Certain people I know go crazy for the lemon salmon, including our 6 year old. Sometimes I consider Dan a cozy neighbourhood bistro and so don't hesitate to take the kids (early), but the wonder of its atmosphere is that you can just easily convince yourself to leave them home and have a slow beery (sake-y?) evening.
Interestingly, Dan doesn't seem to be that well known in the 'hood, but when sitting at the bar we often find ourselves next to visitors from Japan. Maybe its in a guide book?
Thanks for the extra insight on the kid-friendliness. I guess we've only been later, when it just doesn't seem like a good option with the wee'uns but so many places work earlier, don't they?
Chawan mushi (in case you haven't already googled it) is a savoury custard with bits of seafood in it, and usually gingko nuts which I adore. I think it takes a fair bit of time to cook and can be finicky which may be why I don't often see it on Japanese menus. Even places that have it don't always have it, if you see what I mean :-),
In regards to the Chawan Mushi it's a very tricky dish to make and I think that's why it's not on a lot of menus at Japanese restaurants. Lots of care has to go into make the egg mixture. You can't beat the egg too much or else air pockets will show up when you steam it. You have to pull out the dish at right time or you get very gross tough texture instead of nice silken tofu texture.
Great to know Dan Sushi serves Chawan Mushi. I've only been able to order it consistently at Aki's and Honjin in Yaletown.
Oh if only I'd read this yesterday morning, this is where we'd have gone last night. We were looking to "graze"--divide our time between two restaurants to make an evening of it, and we started at Maenam on 4th (excellent!) and then went to Refuel, which trended downhill--the food was fatty and underseasoned, especially after what we'd just had. Sushi--this kind of sushi--would have been perfect. Thanks for your review. Next time!
1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA