Navigating Vancouver’s boundless sushi scene can be a daunting task without some preparation and direction
Looks can be deceiving.
Case in point: The most famous sushi restaurant in the world, Sukiyabashi Jiro, has just 10 seats and is hidden away in a Japanese metro station.
Urban Spoon reports 620 sushi restaurants in the GVA, and unless you have two years of power lunches in your calendar, where do you start? We suggest breaking it down by neighbourhood, and some of our favourite spots lie right in the heart of the city.
Here’s a step-by-step guide tour of the best sushi stops to make throughout the downtown core:
Stop 1: Yamato Sushi (Yaletown)
This is one of the quintessential holes-in-the-wall that make the Vancouver sushi scene great. It’s fast, cheap, and due to the insane volume of orders they pump out of that tiny kitchen, very fresh. Their rice recipe is one of the tastiest around, and they’ve mastered the sushi menu staples. Keep it simple here with a yam avocado roll.
Stop 2: Alpha Sushi Bar (Granville Street)
A quick walk around the corner will take you to Alpha Sushi Bar. They’ve quietly operated for nearly a decade, an age that defies the odds in Vancouver’s tough scene. What it lacks in flash it makes up for in exceptional quality and freshness of ingredients. This means it’s sashimi time. Start with the vibrant wild salmon, and finish with albacore tuna cured with garlic and black pepper.
Stop 3: Miku (Coal Harbour)
The views are spectacular, the crowd is beautiful, the menu is a work of art, and we probably don’t need to tell you that all this comes at a price. Though it’s the most expensive stop on this tour, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a rare chance in Vancouver to experience Aburi-style sushi, and these blowtorch-wielding pros know how to impress. The ebi oshi sushi dish has pressed prawns, lime zest, and ume sauce, and is then flame-seared to perfection. Be sure to try the Aburi Pearl cocktail, made with Pearl saké, pomegranate, spicy ginger syrup, and a togarashi rim.
Stop 4: Kingyo (West End)
You’ll feel like a celebrity when you walk in the door as the entire staff shout jovial welcomes at you. It sets the tone for the energetic experience you can expect at this izakaya, which notoriously tough Globe & Mail Food critic Alexandra Gill has ranked among her favourite restaurants in the city. We suggest the pressed snow crab roll, which is topped with ponzu jelly, radish sprouts, tobiko, shiso herb, and wasabi mayo. No soy sauce needed here. Their extensive saké menu requires some diligent sampling, so plan to finish your night here (last call is at 1:00am).