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Traditional Japanese food downtown

London
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Traditional Japanese food downtown

Does anyone know of a Japanese restaurant or izakaya restaurant downtown that features a decent range of traditional Japanese dishes besides sushi and sashimi? In the last few days I've been to Kingyo, Hap Izakaya and Guu Garlic and although the food was often delicious it was difficult to find dishes that were not fusion inspired. Guu Kobashi on Denman seems to exception - here they had a number of dishes you might find in a restuarant in Japan. Anyone know of any others like it?

Nanaimo, Canada
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1. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Don't know of any, or where the ones you mention are located, but have you been along Powell Street yet?

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

The restaurants you've been going to are strictly izakaya restaurants, and the food you've been having is contemporary Japanese izakaya food. I don't know if I'd call it fusion, but you're right, they're not going to be traditional Japanese restaurant experiences.

But let me clarify... when you say traditional Japanese food, what kind of dishes are you actually looking for? Teriyaki? Tempura? Sunomono salad? A restaurant with tatami mats and servers dressed in kimonos? I'm not being facetious... just trying to clarify.

There's not a whole lot of traditional restaurants with tatami mats and kimonos, although if that's what you're looking for, Kamei Royale delivers:

http://www.kameiroyale.com/

Likewise, their sister restaurants Ebisu might be what you're looking for, although I've never eaten at either of these restaurants: http://www.ebisu.ca

If you're looking for what I'd consider traditional Japanese cuisine (tempura, ramen, yakisoba, teriyaki, etc.) most hole-in-the-wall "sushi" restaurants in Vancouver have it, it's just that most that I know are ho-hum experiences - perfectly fine if you're living here and want something quick and cheap, but I can't think of any that I'd go out of my way to recommend.

Saying that, to get away from the izakaya scene, take a look at Miku. You'll pay a bit more for it, but it's supposed to be stunning. http://mikurestaurant.com/

Finally, I'm confused about J0an123 recommending Powell Street. Powell Street was once Vancouver's Japantown back before WWII. There are no Japanese restaurants that I'm aware of on Powell Street these days. With exception to the Powell Street Festival (a Japanese cultural festival) that happens at Oppenheimer Park (which is on Powell Street), you'd really have no idea that Powell Street had any local Japanese history if you were to just walk by.

Edited: 10 September 2012, 17:52
Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Actually, if you like Guu Kobashi, take a look at Gyoza King on Robson (just a few blocks east of Denman). It's an izakaya, and not as hip as Hapa Izakaya or any of the Guu restaurants... but they don't feature sushi. Their menu, I find, has a lot of the traditonal dishes you may be looking for:

www.gyokingroup.com/gyozaking/menu.html

London
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4. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

No, I wasn't looking for kimono and tatami - more the sort of food you'd find in a traditional izakaya restaurant in Japan and that they had in Guu Kobashi. Sea urchin sashimi, lotus root tempura, simple grilled fish with grated daikon. That sort of thing.

And thanks for the suggestions, I'll check them out!

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Gotcha!

What I'd do is ask for those recommendations on the BC Chowhound.com forum. Be specfic about the dishes you're looking for and you'll be pointed in the right direction in no time.

Nanaimo, Canada
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6. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Hi Mike052,

I know exactly what you're talking about. Spent many years in Japan. I haven't found a Japanese restaurant in Vancouver that really would meet your needs. Well at least they haven't met my needs. I crave the simple dishes and not super fond of the fusion mixes. I would love to hear if you find one!

London
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7. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Hi Dave, I've lived there a while myself and Guu Kobashi comes close. Feels like a neighbourhood Tokyo izakaya. Went there again tonight. Add to the list I mentioned above eggplant marinated in ginger shoyu; deep fried edamame beans and a nice selection of pickles (all at 3.80 each...). They have some westernised stuff as well, and it pays to be wary. I'm learning fast in this town to say no mayo, no roasted garlic and no vinegarette dressing, kudasai.

Nanaimo, Canada
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8. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Hi Mike052,

Thanks for that. Will have to give it a go next in Vancouver. Can one ever get enough pickles? Still looking for a proper chawan mushi :-)

Enjoy the rest of your visit to Vancouver!

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Glad you found what you're looking for. I'm kind of embarrassed by what I wrote before... Clearly not at all what you were seeking. I completely misinterpreted what you meant by traditional and well... I'm the one who needed the lesson, not you! :)

I know my credibility is toast, but I still think that if you haven't written on the Chowhound board, it would be worth a try. I know there are threads where people are on the quest to find the best uni around town, the best restaurant serving ______ , and so on.

Anyhow, good luck with the rest of your dining experiences.

London
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10. Re: Traditional Japanese food downtown

Be not embarrassed, kind Robyn. We set off this morning for Galiano, much at your suggestion. I suspect traditional Japanese fare might be even thinner on the ground there.