My guestimation is that Shima-Yahas been around
since 1999 April 5, 2007, around the same time as the London Drugs complex opened up at Victoria Drive and 41st. Small, Japanese-run places like this are getting rare these days, with the disappearance of neighbourhood family-run joints like Vanya, Takarabune, and Aotoya (Blue Door). Shama-Ya is still around, still run by the adorable Japanese couple. It’s a small 20-seater place that I’ve eaten at or gotten takeout from occasionally since they opened. Good, old-school, rustic sushi at a fair price. A definite cut above your non-Japanese-run sushi place. I figured I should write a bit about it before the owners inevitably retire. (I keep on thinking it’s going to happen soon, but the owners persevere with the help of their daughter! Enjoy this place while it’s still around!)
My guestimation is that Shima-Yahas been around
My previous sushi meal at Sushi Bar Shu ignited the sushi fire within me so I went to another favourite, Tetsu Sushi Bar in the west end. Incredible indulgent lunch for $54 and a very different experience from a full-on, served one piece at a time omakase meal. I lunched solo, and I loved having this personal, scaled-down yet still incredible experience. A must-do for local high-end sushi lovers.
- If places like Sushi Bar Maumi, Tetsu Sushi Bar, Sushi by Yuji, Matsuzushi (Port Moody), Octopus’ Garden, etc appeal to you, then you’ll appreciate this omakase-only experience. If you need tempura, noodles, rolls, or are price-sensitive, DO NOT COME HERE.
- Sushi Bar Shu is run by an all-Korean staff. I was sorta skeptical that a Korean chef would be experienced and dedicated enough to provide an omakase experience that was respectful to the Japanese omakase experience, but I came away completely convinced that the chef/owner Kevin Shin is serious. Keep in mind that this place is not Korean sushi (which is its own legitimate thing). This is real-deal Japanese (Edomae) sushi.
- Because the staff are Korean, you will need to be accomodating to the Korean accent. They are all fluent in English, but you do need some sensitivity in this matter. I could understand about 80% of what the staff said, and that’s coming from having a few Korean friends and family members. If you’re keen on the details of everything you’re eating, you will be rewarded by conversing with the chef, but I felt to be polite I had to let some details slide, lest I ask the same question again and again 😛
- The experience and style are different from any other omakase place in town. To me this is a huge plus. This restaurant is about exploring their way of doing omakase. You can actually chat with the chefs here. Other places (while great in their own right) aren’t always conducive to chatting.
- Reservations HIGHLY recommended. For all intents and purposes, they only have nine seats at the bar.
- They opened in December 2018, and the chef seems intent on improving and tweaking the restaurant and the food. So what I experienced probably will change over time.
- There is NO liquor license. Yet. Only beverage available is tea.
- The nigiri here is on the smaller side. It’s about quality over quantity. If you want quantity, I suggest going to Samurai.
It’s hard not to talk about CơM Vietnamese Restaurant without comparing it to the other Vietnamese elephant in the room, Anh + Chi. But after three years after the opening of Anh + Chi, the restaurant landscape has changed. Food costs and rent have only gone up. Paying more for a meal out has become the new normal. But “ethnic” food is still battling the perception that it should always be cheap (see Eddie Huang’s “full fucking price”). Vancouver has gotten used to its cheap but often mediocre hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurants but places like House Special, Anh + Chi, Chau Veggie, CơM, DD Mau Chinatown, Dundas Eat + Drink, and others are slowly trying to carve out a space for “fancier” Vietnamese with cocktails and designer interiors. Whether they are actually offering something new that’s worth the higher price tag or simply presenting the same food in a cleaner, more Instagrammable environment is up for debate.
In a nutshell: good (but not perfect) Vietnamese food in a comfortable space but awkward location. More positives and negatives. Large menu deserves another visit.
Horin Ramen + Sake opened up in late 2018, occupying the space that used to be the short-lived Sanuki Udon (review here). They’ve got an impressively TIGHT menu with only ONE kind of ramen (with five variations that only differ in toppings), two kinds of gyoza, and that’s basically it! With such a narrow focus, they should nail this style of tonkotsu ramen, right? Mostly yes…but the detailed answer is a bit more complicated.
As Wicca says, the beef pho we had here was “aw-pho” (as in “awful”, for the dense people). I try to stay away from superlatives, but that bowl of beef pho we had at Sing Sing Beer Bar was the single worst dish I’ve had in the last year. The chef here is vegan.
Disclaimers about this review:
- Sing Sing were open
less than a weeka week and a half when we visited, so the food and menu will probably change. Hopefully the pho will improve.
- I post this because people like you and me deserve to know how the food is tasting now, if we’re considering risking our hard-earned money on a place with a gloriously wacky concept.
- Consider this a rough guide to what works and what doesn’t right now.
- NOTE: the room got dark really fast, so my photos of the food are horrible. The food actually looks way better in-person.
- There’s some connection to Donnelly Group that I haven’t been able to suss out yet. Sing Sing is a venture by the people behind Back and Forth Bar (the ping pong bar) in Gastown. Could it be Donnelly Group lending support to places that are actually cool? Instead of overwrought and soulless?
- NOTE 2: I wrote this while high, so I’ve gone back afterwards and added a few notes, as noted. 🙂
If you don’t want to read or scroll, here it is in a nutshell:
Good beer list, very fair beer prices, great pizza, the pho is a crime against Vietnamese culture, and the room is VERY LOUD.
With a name like Dachi (“pal” in Japanese), you’d think this was yet another modern Asiany restaurant but it’s actually a snapshot of contemporary Canadian/PNW multiculturalism on a plate that just works in a quiet, accessible, yet sophisticated way. Dachi was just four weeks old when we dined there and we saw influences drawn from Ukranian, German, Asian, and American cultures on the menu. Tight menu and booze list, very well curated. You can feel the experience oozing out of all the industry vets working there. If you’re into seasonal farm-to-table, small plates-style eating, you’ll love this place.
If you like places like Nuba and Jamjar, you’ll love Aleph. We did. You won’t even care that it’s quietly vegetarian.
Shokunin follows a theme that I’ve noticed in Calgary — modern Asian food, not necessarily cooked by Asians, being done respectfully at a high level, and embraced by the dining public. Specifically: Anju (every iteration), Foreign Concept, Two Penny, and — now that I’ve finally tried it — Shokunin. I was really impressed by the quality and attention to detail with their kushiyaki/yakitori and nigiri sushi. The best nigiri I’ve had in an izakaya. Lots of attention paid to flavour, technique, and sourcing of ingredients. Pricing is fair considering the labour involved. I met up with local blogger Miss Foodie and homeboy Hungryslif for a quick shared meal before flying back to Vancouver. Read on for the blow-by-blow.
Moyenchow told me after our meal at Ramen Gaoh that this is by far the best ramen in the area. I agreed. I’d even go so far as to say that this would be worthy even if it was downtown rather than North Burnaby. Along with Grayelf, we beat the lineup on a Sunday morning during their grand opening weekend and came away impressed. Ramen Gaoh specializes in miso ramen, so if that’s your jam it’s worth a visit — especially if you’re in the area.