But let’s get back on track.
Izakayas are all the rage in Vancouver. What’s not to love about delicious, fushion-y, shareable Japanese food? Add an emphasis on alcohol, pretty waitresses, trendy restaurant design, and loud chefs and you have a winning formula for the 20somethings.
As much as I love izakayas, I think Vancouver is reaching a saturation point. Alpha, Guu, Hapa, Ebisu, Shiru-Bay: these are some of the bigger izakaya names in Vancouver. I’ve had pretty great experiences with all of them. One izakaya that a lot of people don’t seem to know about is Toratatsu, on 735 Denman Street.
I first heard about Toratatsu from Chilco’s Good things in Vancouver blog. Toratatsu is owned by the Uno family, who also happen to own Shiru-Bay and about 20 other restaurants in Tokyo. Kodai Uno, the son, assumes the executive chef role at Toratatsu.
Unlike Shiru-Bay and most other izakayas here, Toratatsu is a lot smaller. The other ones tend to pack all their customers into a large common area, creating a party like environment. Toratatsu, true to authentic Izakaya roots, is a lot cozier; the focus is on the bar. As Chilco said on her blog, “There are many Izakaya bars in Vancouver where you can go with lots of people but this place will be suitable when you want to have a relaxing time with your boyfriend or girlfriend.“
I couldn’t agree more.
The food rocks too.
First up, sukiyaki ($12.80). Fresh beef, veggies, organic eggs, and other goodies boiled in sukiyaki broth right in front of you. Really, really good. It might not be all-u-can-eat, but this miles ahead of Posh’s sukiyaki (which I enjoyed).
Second, ebi chili mayo ($8.00). 3 large prawns delicately deep fried and served with spicy chili mayonnaise sauce. Shiru-Bay is famous for this same dish. Guu and others have this dish too, but this is the best in town.
Third up, Gindara Saikyo Yaki ($9.80), or broiled miso-marinated black cod in laymen’s terms. This is one of the best dishes I’ve had all year. The buttery miso-flavored fish is complemented perfectly by the sweet creamy mash potatoes – and then the whole dish is turned upside down by the sharp and sour cherry tomatoes. Wicked.
I washed everything down with a large bottle of my favorite beer ($8.00).