Suanne and I decided to start eating up. Let’s see … over the past three years of food blogging, we had blogged a total of 19 Japanese dine outs. Most of it was AYCEs (all-you-can-eat), ramen, bento boxes and sushi platters. The most gourmet places was Daimasu which I had every other comment lambasting me for even saying that it was great. Oh yeah, we also went to Tenhaci and I also got lambasted for saying that I hit the can several times after the meal. LOL!
So, here you go … Izakaya. Oooooo … Suanne and Ben’s is eating up. Ooooo … gourmet Japanese!
We initially wanted to go to Manzo Izakaya but found that it was closed on Monday. Looking across the street on Alexandra, there is Seto which I heard rave reviews of. But then I also heard of the review that says it costs $60 for a meal for two in Seto. That kind of rules Seto out.
It just so happen that there is another Izakaya just a few doors away. We peeked into the place and it looked OK and pretty authentic Japanese.
Nan Chuu is authentic alright. Everyone speaks Japanese here and when the wait staff came by to speak to us her accent is clearly Japanese.
You know what I like about this place. When we walked in, everyone (and I mean) everyone yelled something. I guess it was to greet us but we never quite know if it was meant for us.
The booth we were seated in was very narrow … and dark too if I may add. Also, Suanne observed that it was loud … loud music and all. I gather that this is quite common in an Izakaya … with the word Izakaya meaning a Sake Shop.
We were given two menus … a fancy wood cover menu and another hand drawn Today’s Special. The waitress was very helpful trying to explain what they have but it was all over our head. So, after mulling for a good few minutes we decided on three items.
We had absolutely no idea what we were ordering and told the waitress that. She smiled and said “yes” politely. I don’t think she got half of what we said.
The first one was the Tuna Yukke with Seaweed under Nori Wrap. They had this as special for $5.50 before 7PM. Since they highly recommended this we said yes even though we had no idea what it looked like nor did we know what Yukke was.
When it was brought to our table, it was later explained to us that the sauce is Yukke.
We were told to mix the chopped tuna up and then warp it with the seaweed. We almost ran out of the Nori because we put in too little tuna. Extra nori was like $1 for 5 pieces.
There was an item on the menu that has a bubble that says “must try”. That item was the Tuna Tataki. It is like sashimi except that it’s lightly seared on the outside. Suanne does not eat raw fish and left it all to me. Nice! $7 for this one.
Then there is this dish called Mini Oden Hotpot. There are a number of items served in a pot of clear soup base. We saw one hard boiled egg, nicely cut daikon, vermicelli tied in a bundle, tofu puff and fish cake. $7.50.
It was a small start. Total was $21 before tips. We enjoyed it and am sure this is just a fleeting intro to Izakaya dining. We’ll try other places in time to come. At the meantime, educate Suanne and I … what are some of the must order food in Izakaya. We are such babes when it comes to Japanese food.
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Is that a raw egg in the Tuna Yukke?
Yes, there is a small raw egg on the Tuna Yukke. I think it is a quail egg.
I’ve debated on letting you guys in on my “pearl” that is the Japanese restaurants in Richmond and Vancouver. SUSHI HACHI, located in the Pacific Plaza on the corner of Cambie & Garden City. It faces Cambie. It is run by a Japanese couple. The menu is pure authentic Japanese, no fusion…focus on sashimi. No “cooked” food, although they have the “dons”. I can’t eat raw oysters, but I can here. They are amazing, and you may have to call and pre-order. As the chef will not bring it in if it is not the freshest. My mom loves the sashimi, the variety being more vast than at those AYCE places. However, it is a very pricey restaurant, so you may just want to go with Suanne, as a date.Just warning you that service may not be the best as it usually is just the wife being the waitress. But if you want authentic…it’s here.
Nan Chuu is the Richmond location of Gyoza King (DT). So I think it’s similar to what’s offered at the downtown location except with fancier food. I haven’t been there for a long while though.
Sushi Hachi is also my fav for sushi in Richmond. But you have to like raw food to eat there. Our usual bill for 2 is $90 (with tax & tips) with no drinks. And we usually order sushi by piece, some sashimi and one or two rolls. I never go to AYCE places now. (rather eat out less for better food)
He he he … spending $90 & no drinks is not something I would normally spend on, Winnie. If I go it will have to be for a very special occasion. But I am sold … Sushi Hachi is on my list of to-try places.
I totally agree with the recommendations on Sushi Hachi, its not that expensive unless you like to eat a lot of imported fish.
We had a review of it it here http://eatsnaprepeat.ca/2008/07/19/sushi-hachi-??-mom-pop-does-it-right/
I just had Gyoza King and I love Yukke! I can’t get enough Izakaya in my diet. I need to go more. Thanks Ben, I’ll try this one too!
By the sounds of the comments so far, looks like I have to make a trip to Sushi Hachi. (I guess I live a sheltered live in Burnaby.)
You have to try Guu in Gastown. It is, by far, one of the more comfortable izakayas in terms of seating and “personal space”. Even my mother can accept it. :p (she’s picky!)
Some dishes you have to try are: ebi mayo, tuna or beef carpaccio, a cocktail or two (izakayas are watering holes after all!), odens, and something grilled or deepfried to start off!
If you to to Guu Otokamae, please reserve a tasting menu ahead of time – you will not be disappointed! . . if not, be sure to try their salmon with seven friends (it has raw fish in it, but I’m sure one of you will benefit). good luck and welcome to the addictive world of izakaya!
Tell me now, Jessica … I hear a lot of Guu’s around. Does the word Guu mean sometime or is Guu the name of a chain restaurant of sorts. Ben
I agree with Jessica. Guu is really good. I’ve tried the one in Richmond in Aberdeen Center – I liked it but my husband thought there was too much butter on their food. However, I’ve tried the Guu on Robson as everyone was saying that it was the best and indeed it was the best and it did not have any butter like the one in Richmond; in fact, the theme on the one on Robson is “with garlic” and every dish had fried garlic chips on it. Each Guu restaurant has a different menu; therefore you can try each one and choose your favorite. Check their website to compare the menus:
Guu started as one restaurant. It’s not really a chain, but now it has 4 locations. Guu is also available at Aberdeen Centre. See its website: http://www.guu-izakaya.com/ It has menus on there as well. I like “Karubi” grilled beef short rib, Octopus ball” deep-fried octopus ball & “OKONOMIYAKI” deep-fried Japanese pancake as well.
Zakkushi – Japanese grill is awesome, too. Check out the menus on its web site: http://www.zakkushi.com/
Gyoza King and Nan Chuu are yum.
Haven’t tried Sushi Hachi yet, but this 3 restaurants (Guu, Zakkushi, Gyoza King) are my favs izakaya so far.
IZAKAYA, my kind of restaurant, its what I love to eat most often in the city. Nan Chuu is definitely one of the best. It affiliated with Gyoza King on Robson Street and totally Japanese, we were there recently for dinner just before a show at River Rock Casino. Izakaya’s are basically watering hole in Japan where businessmen go after a hard day’s work to have sake/beers and little plates of food. The loud shouting is common almost in all Izakayas, it creates the atmosphere. Some of the best ones in town are Guu with Garic on Robson (you simply must try!), Gyoza King, Hapa Izakaya, Kingyo, those are true blue authentic izakaya. Manzo is good but Chinese run so albeit its good, it lacked in its authenticity. Best dishes to order in an izakaya are chicken karaage, ebi mayo, oden (which u have), tako yaki, grilled mackeral or any grilled fish, kabocha korokke, motoyaki, start with those but there’s so much more. The only downside of izakayas is you have to order a substantial amount to be full, so often we order all our favs and in the end order an udon dish or okonomiyaki (japanese pizza) as filler. We are lucky in Vancouver to have many excellent izakayas so you are in for a treat. Enjoy.
Thought I’d try to post this again as last few attempts I failed lol.
First of all, I must say that this is such a great website!!! A lot of these reviews will totally come in handy when I go back to Van this time.
Regarding this posting, i am afraid that i do not think this is an authentic Japanese restaurant… I lived in Japan for 7 years so i am fluent in Japanese and by looking at the menu, the person who wrote the menu made a mistake that i can assure you a Japanese will not make… the 6th item top down that writes “assari garlic butter” –> small clams in Japanese are actually “asari” and “asSari” (extra ‘S’) actually means something completely different…?and of course a good Japanese restaurant will not tolerate this kind of mistake, especially on their menu! in my opinion, after living in Vancouver for 7 years, i’d say that most of the authentic Japanese izakaya or restaurants are actually in Downtown… if you’d like authentic izakaya, i agree with the previous posts that Guu is a good place to go. There are also many around robson and denman.. such as Zakkushi, Toratatsu, or Kingyo are also some authentic Japanese izakaya 🙂
I just find these Japanese izakayas very pretentious. The food is just so so. The portions are small, over-priced and pretentious. They are just trying to be higher class.
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