This hole-in-the-wall has ~14 seats and just two main items on the menu. This won’t take long (but maybe longer than you think).
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 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.
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.
Ugly Dumpling isn’t ugly at all. In fact, they bring out the inner beauty of their ingredients in a clean, classically Japanese way. The dishes look and taste beautiful, with no ego nor fancy and unnecessary flourishes.
Steel Toad had a tough time and also an identity crisis. The group behind Tap & Barrel took over the space and have now turned it into BREWHALL and T&B’s experience shows in how well put-together this place is. I haven’t tried any of the food yet, and only had a couple house beers, but this place works.
(Side note: I’m so glad they changed the name from “T&B Brewing Co.” cuz that would’ve been a supreme dick move. R&B Ale & Pizza House is only blocks away.)
Few things have that uneasy mixture of luxury, guilt, and controversy as king crab does. Like spot prawns now, there used to be a mad king crab season rush in the Lower Mainland. But because we can’t have nice things, king crab prices are high and supply has become questionable (and possible illegal). So on that note, we recently celebrated a family reunion of sorts with king crab. I didn’t even see a menu during this dinner. My dad and relatives ordered, my dad paid, and I ate and appreciated like a number one son.