Shizenya

2 years ago, I changed my diet to avoiding canned foods, frozen/microwaable foods, processed snacks, alcohol, coffee, MSG and I wondered if I would be able to eat out again with friends. (at the time of writing this blog, I have since then started eating some these foods again at a moderate but less than before quantity)

I happened to pass by this small cute restaurant in downtown and was excited to see their sandwich board placed in front of their restaurant. Organic foods, no additives and MSG free! Most of the rice used in their dishes were ‘genmai’ or brown-rice (which is much healthier than regular white rice, much like how whole-grain bread is better than white bread).

The first time I went, I went with a bunch of friends for dinner. You’d think that being ‘organic’ and all that the prices would be outrageous. But it wasn’t! I ordered organic avocado roll (with genmai) $3.95 (8pc) and organic vegetable with chicken gyoza (dumplings) $5.25 (6pc). I thought it was really good, and felt healthy. :D The male guests weren’t too impressed though, describing the as tasting ‘too healthy’. LoL. I guess that means bland. But most of the ladies thought it was good. If you’re already eating healthy without MSG and use to the ‘natural’ taste of foods (as in you don’t use much sauce in your cooking), then I’m sure you will enjoy their dishes. :) And with a 94% on Urbanspoon, many agree that it’s a good restaurant!

I’ve been back many times, and the dishes have always been good!! The staff are Japanese, and is excellent service. The restaurant can get really hot and humid without any windows or ventilation…that’s only my issue…but not really a big complaint.

Check them out! They’re open Monday to Saturdays 11am-10pm – closed Sundays

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Tatsu Japanese Bistro

Tatsu Japanese Bistro on UrbanspoonTatsu Japanese Bistro

It’s convenietnly located along Commercial, just minutes from the Commercial/Broadway train station. I went there with a huge group (social group) of about 20 ppl. We nearly took over half the restaurant.

The Japanese servers were very friendly. The restaurant was very modern and had a good atmosphere. The menu was nicely designed. I really like restaurants (most of the time Asian restaurants) that use photos to show what the dishes will look like. This is always very helpful!

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I ordered the Salmon Takaki Roll $8.95
It was really good. Other people at the table were also happy with their dishes. It seemed very healthy. Upon looking at their website, it was no surprise that we felt this ‘healthy-appeal’ with the dishes, they listed:

  • We use wild sockeye salmon only.
  • We use organic eggs and organic spring mixes.
  • Brown rice, black rice, low sodium soy sauce or gluten free soy sauce is available.

Since I was there meeting friends and new people, I didn’t get a chance to really evaluate the restaurant and the food. But it was good, so I’ll be returning again for another closer look. Their menu looks very appetizing, so I’ll try something I usually don’t order next time! I recommend!!

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Hanafubuki

Hanafubuki Sushi on Urbanspoon

I had never heard of this place until I saw a deal on Groupon for $45 worth of dishes for $22. The coupon included:

  • One tataki salad with seared toro or tuna (a $7.50 value)
  • 12-piece order of fried pork gyoza dumplings (a $9.90 value)
  • One 6-piece california roll (a $3.25 value)
  • One feux d’artifice roll (a $12.95 value)
  • Two small orders of vegetable udon (a $5.95 value each)

The restaurant was super small. 3 tiny tables. 6 people and the restaurant is full. I think that’s why they installed mirrors for the walls, to give the illusion that it was more spacious. However, it was clean.

There were 3 couples, so it was full, and all of us were using the Groupon LOL, so we all had the same thing.

Ö Mirror walled restaurant

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Torching the feux d’artifice roll

Ö feux d’artifice roll

Ö tataki salad

Ö Udon

Ö Gyoza

ÖCalifornia roll

The takaki salad was really good. I tend to not order salad at restaurants cuz I think they’re over priced. Also, other than the fish, you can easily make the salad yourself at home. But since it was already included in the course, I had no complaints. It was really good. Maybe my favourite dish out of all of them. The gyoza was nothing fancy. A bit greasy, and what you might expect from a Chinese run ‘Japanese’ restaurant. The cali-rolls and udon were alright. The feux d’artifice roll was interesting as the server pulled out her torch to torch the top of the rolls. The masago popped as the flame went by.

Overall, we were happy with the food, service speed and the were stuffed at the end. However, for the quality, we thought that the original price was was a bit expensive. $35 would have been more appropriate. However, the Groupon was a good deal. Did the Groupon get a new royal customer? Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be going back. Even with another exact deal, I’m not too sure I’ll jump onto it again. Great service though!

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Koko Japanese Restaurant

Koko on Urbanspoon

Koko restaurant has enclosed sections for half the tables, making it comfortable for you and your guests to have an private table while you dine. The restaurant is fairly big, but it was more than half empty. We wondered if it was going to go out of business. My guest who had gone there a few times long before me said it looked run down…I could tell that the restaurant has been there for a while, but it wasn’t disgusting or filthy in any way.

koko__menulogo_koko As a graphic designer, I must point out that they have a really terrible logo…I dunno, it reminds me of Midas…an automobile repair shop…very ugly. Awful colours. Nothing about it says ‘authentic higher-quality Japanese sushi’…Perhaps I should go there next time to propose a new logo…and branding…

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There was only one waitress, but since there were only 3, 4 small groups dining, the service wasn’t delayed or sacrificed. Like an authentic Japanese restaurant, we were given hot wet rolled-up towels to clean our hands.

I ordered my favourite Negitoro roll $4.50 (6 pieces), 1 Tamago $1.50 (egg) and 2 salmon ($1.95 each). My guest had the Assorted Sushi $17.95

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Taste is really good. They use really good nori (seaweed) – a way of telling if they use cheap or high quality food ingredients in their cuisine. The negitoro’s rice is a bit compressed for my liking, but delicious. The salmon is the best that I’ve seen around in sushi restaurants. Not bad for $1.95 either.
My guest’s combo on the other hand is pricey. $18 for 4 rolls and 8 nigiri is a bit high…the quality again is good, but definitely not filling. In the end, with tip and taxes, it came out to be $37. For that price, you can eat at Momo Sushi 5 times, coming out stuffed every time.

Again a bit pricey for my range, but very good quality.

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Tokyo John Sushi

Tokyo John Sushi Downtown on Urbanspoon

Newly opened Tokyo John Sushi – the name threw me off at the beginning. I knew it wasn’t an authentic Japanese restaurant. No Japanese would call their restaurant with a name John. However, since I was hosting an event there, I got to check the place out.

Being new, it was clean and modern. Very spacious for a restaurant in downtown. Only a block away from Robson St. The interior decor is modern and the seats, comfy. The Korean staff were friendly and accommodating for our big group +15 ppl.

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Since I always tend to get the same sushi at various restaurants, I thought I’d go for something different. I ordered the Hokkaido Roll $9. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw what came. Although it was beautifully presented, it had only 6 small pieces. I was not even close to being full. The roll was tasty, but it was more of the presentation that struck me as impressive.

IMG_20130109_193437Hokkaido Roll $9

Me and my friend noticed someone else order something fancy. It looked interesting. We asked what she was having and told us it was called Tokyo John Tower $14. We ordered one and shared. It had crab, scallops, tuna, daikon and lightly grilled salmon. It was in a shape of a round cake, in ponzu sauce. I thought it was a bit salty and sour, while my friend said it was too sweet for him – interesting. Either way, it was an interesting dish. A good dish. Pricey though…you wont be full eating this either.

IMG_20130109_200728Tokyo John Tower $14

Overall it was a good experience. Good service, the food is good (great presentation) and nice atmosphere.

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Tenhachi

Tenhachi Japanese Restaurant 天八和食 on Urbanspoon

This is my favourite Japanese restaurant in Vancouver! Unfortunately, they closed on Jan 15, 2013…which is why I went to dine for the last time. (they do say that they will reopen elsewhere, but who knows where and when! Also, when things change, the food also changes…)

My parents love this place and many Japanese (or Japanese food enthusiasts) like this place for their very authentic Japanese dishes. I had told my guest that it was my favourite restaurant, but the first thing he asked me with a skeptical face was ‘THIS is your FAVOURITE restaurant?” as if he thought I was crazy. I think most people that go to this restaurant are thrown off from the old, western style, somewhat cheesy interior. Located on the first floor of the Shaughnessy Village, it’s a little out of place. However, as soon as you walk in, you can smell the real Japanese cuisine! Mmmmmm~ 😀

The Teishoku are the best…well, everything is delicious. You can tell the quality by the tea they serve. Yes! It’s really dark green…not the watered down, yellow, tasteless tea you get at cheap Japanese wanna-be restaurants.

Prices are moderate with teishoku (a set which includes the main dish, miso soup, rice, vegetables, salad, pickles) ranging from $15-$18. For the quality, it’s well worth it! The servers are friendly and the food may be slow at times, but since I always go there with a group, the wait doesn’t seem that bad.

Since they were closing down, some of the menu items were already crossed off…mostly the fish dishes.
I ordered the Karage Teishoku $15.95. The rice was fluffy and the right dampness – perfect. The miso soup is light with a variety of veggies in it. The side vegetable dishes were good, and reminded me of dining in Japan. The karage was crispy on the outside, and juicey inside. The salad on the side was lightly dressed- just the way I like it.

IMG_20130113_181238Karage Teishoku $15.95

I would recommend this to everyone who wants to try authentic Japanese cuisine. However, I guess you’ll have to wait until they reopen… I’m gonna miss them!! T_T

Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna

Stepho's Souvlaki Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

If you want to go to a Greek restaurant in Vancouver, you’ve probably heard of Stephos on Davie st. There’s usually a long lineup that starts before they open and lasts till late. After lining up and waiting twice, I’ve only done take out since then. Take out is great since you call them up and the order is usually ready for pick up in 20 minutes. No line, no tip, and eat at the comfort of your own home (or friend’s).

However, if you haven’t gone yet, it’s a restaurant you have to go. It may be just my imagination, but the portion always seems larger when eating in. LOL.

So why is this place so famous? Because the food tastes good, the portions are big, the restaurant has good atmosphere (though it can get pretty loud at times) and the price is inexpensive.Ö

I recently went with a friend on a cold rainy night. I thought we would have to lineup outside in that weather, but luckily, we walked right in and was seated immediately. AWESOME!

We were seated by the window with real plants decor above us. To our surprise, the table had a heater underneath to keep our legs and hands warm! Yay! The table was covered to the floor by a heavy cloth so that kept the heat underneath the fabric. It was kind of like the Japanese kotatsu concept.

I ordered a Spanakopita (spinach-cheese puff) $4.95,  small portion (but not small at at) prawn souvlakia $7.95 (served with rice pilaf, roast potatoes and greek salad). My friend ordered his favourite Marinated Octopus with Pita $5.95 and small chicken souvlakia.

ÖSpanakopita (spinach-cheese puff) $4.95

ÖMarinated Octopus with Pita $5.95

Öprawn souvlakia $7.95

It was the first time to try out the Spanakopita, but it was really good! Super tasty. I’d definitely order it next time. The souvlakia, well it’s what I always order it cuz it’s just the best. The octopus for me is a bit too hard and rubbery for my liking. I didn’t mind having a few of them though.

The restaurant is very dimly lit, so it’s not a place to go and read a book in the evening. Again, because it’s always full house, the noise level can sometimes be very high for you to be able to concentrate on any kind of focused work. It’s a restaurant to go and enjoy the food and your company. It’s a definite must go! 🙂

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