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Real Japanese Restaurants in Vancouver?

Aki on Thurlow is closing in the middle of February and who knows when, and if, they'll find a place in the increasing sterile heart of Vancouver.

Any suggestions for other real Japanese restaurants in Vancouver?

For me a Japanese restaurant isn't the same unless it's run and staffed by Japanese people. Somehow there's a different feel. The Japanese seem to be more respectful and caring of the food and customers.

I love the indifferent panic of a busy Chinese restaurant but when it comes to Japanese food it's not the same.

Any suggestions including seemingly obvious places would be appreciated.

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    1. re: Sam Salmon

      Upvote for Sushi Zero One - my favourite hole in the wall authentic Japanese sushi location.

      1. Van-Ya by Joyce and Kingsway

        1. Is Oishii (ex-Musashi) on Denman @ Robson all Japanese ?

          1 Reply
          1. re: LotusRapper

            There are also a number of Japanese run places in the concrete ghetto out in Richmond.

          2. I'm not real Japanese, but real Japanese friends consider these (presumably among others) to pass the realness test:
            Dinner with friends: Dan, Suika, Miku
            Dinner with clients: Suika and Miku
            Dinner w/drinking friends/clients: Suika
            Ladies who lunch: Sanpachi and Miku.
            Take-out with kids: Hitoe
            Special family dinner out: Miku, En

            I would add Zest, but not sure if its real : )

            1. As you can see, there is no shortage of Japanese-run Japanese restaurants. None of them have the same kind of history as Aki, however. It was from a different era - when Japanese food was so mysterious and exotic.

              5 Replies
              1. re: fmed

                To Marko65, some more worthy recommendations that are not necessarily true-Japanese by definition:


                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Thanks. Lots of great suggestions, It seems like so many places in Vancouver are really just Chinese places making Japanese food.
                  Not a great vibe in those restaurants.
                  I'll have to give them all these recommendations a try.

                2. re: fmed

                  Looks like I'll have some travelling to do when Aki closes.

                  1. re: marko65

                    Miko on Robson is old school real Japanese.

                    Kimura on Rupert is all Japanese but the itamae is trained in European cooking as well.

                    Kishimoto on Commercial is new school real Japanese.

                    All good, all different.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      Update.. Kimura is not the same since the chef has changed....

                3. Funny no one mentioned Tojo's .......

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LotusRapper

                    Haha Yeah big oversight. My paychecks not big enough to add Tojo's to my weekly restaurant list.

                  2. Tojos is horrible. Don't bother spending your money there.

                    Go to Ajisai.

                    Go to Sushi Hachi (in richmond).

                    Go to Hamaei (in North Vancouver)

                    1. That is sad news about Aki. I literally walked in there by accident a couple years ago and had the best time there after having a recent meal at one of the Guu's nearby.

                      Old school grease pit full of smoke (food, not tobacco) where the gaijin are sat in a separate section - love it!

                      1. Y'all know Aki re-opened along Pender street & Jervis, right? Went in early Aug. and it was strange to sit in the new restaurant with its modern decor. The Japanese business men were there in full force.

                        The sushi and cooked foods were as good as before. As for the robata, Ordered the eggplant and black cod robata and it was good but it was missing the smokiness. Tried to spot the robata grill from the old restaurant but didn't see it.