When my co-worker Dave, who lives in Arkansas, found out that he and I would be working together up in Vancouver, he told me that the one thing that he wanted to do was go out for sushi. The Northwest is well known for quality sushi, owing a lot to the higher Asian populations. Of course it never fails that when I find myself in the landlocked cities in the middle of the country, everyone wants to go to sushi. Anyway…I spent awhile on Yelp and UrbanSpoon trying to find the best sushi in Vancouver. I narrowed it down a couple places until I noticed they were closed on Mondays, and we would have had to drive. Finally I just decided to find the best in downtown. The consensus pick was Aki Japanese (94% positive on 188 votes is pretty significant).
We grabbed Nick and made our way out into the lovely Northwest evening, sunglasses on, enjoying the perfect summer day. Just as we were approaching Robson, we made a sharp right, down a set of stairs to one level below the street, and into a dark, almost cavelike restaurant. But despite the lack of natural light, there were two things that led me to believe that we had made a good decision. First, every single employee appeared to be Japanese, including the experienced chef at the sushi bar. Second, we would be one of only two non-Asian tables in the whole place that I could see, and there were easily 40-50 people there. A third positive was that the Japanese was first othe menu, the rough English translation second (and I’m talking the menu was in kanji). We weren’t sure if it was going to be good, but we were damn sure it was going to be authentic.
If you are looking for a high protein meal, sushi is definitely the place to go. Between sashimi and robata grill options, it’s nothing but protein. And we ordered a lot of it to the table. Each of us opted for one order of sashimi (5 pieces), and the pieces were not only the biggest sashimi pieces I’ve seen, but they were delicious. The Hamachi that I had was tender and flavorful. And the Toro that Nick had was the best I’ve ever had…rich and almost buttery and melt in your mouth tender. We got the yakitori and black cod from the Robata grill which were just more piles of meaty goodness. The chicken was moist and had a soy based BBQ sauce that added a little sweetness and a little richness to each bite. And the black cod was just wonderful; flaky, juicy, buttery and full of explosive flavor. Finally, as if that were not enough we ordered a few simple maki rolls. They were definitely good, but not anything like the sashimi and Robata items.
After we got our protein fix, we reemerged from the dungeon into the sun, and made our way to Gastown in the hopes of enjoying the last remnants of the evening. While Nick and Dave ordered beers, I ordered a salad and a glass of water…vegetables are a little more difficult to get when you are out for sushi. I mean I could get tempura, but it’s fried, or with other dishes, but they usually have rice or noodles. So the salad route seemed easier. Anyway…I digress. Our sushi dinner was wonderful and delicious and just the right way to show someone from the south what sushi is all about.