Sushi restaurants are everywhere in Vancouver. I was once meeting a friend in the West End for dinner, and she told me to meet her at the sushi place next to the Starbucks on Davie Street. After waiting for 15 minutes, I found out it was the other sushi place by the other Starbucks (two blocks away). Yes, they are as common as coffee shops.
And they aren’t limited to downtown. Everywhere you go, you will see sushi, so you might as well get used to it. In fact, there are more sushi restaurants per capita in Vancouver, than anywhere outside Japan.
Okay, I totally made that statistic up – but it just might be true, anyway. And beyond just being common, sushi places have amazing value and great food.
What to Have
You might think that you’ll have a limited selection of a few sushi rolls – not so. Sushi restaurant menus are often long and complicated. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Sushi and Sashimi
Of course, you’ll be able to find all the standard rolls at any sushi place in Vancouver – salmon, tuna, California, ect. One of the most popular rolls (and in my opinion, the best) doesn’t even have fish: the yam tempura roll (deep fried yam).
Most restaurants will also have specialty rolls. These often combine traditional ingredients along with unusual ingredients. The specialty rolls are often much more expensive, but usually worth it.
Aside from rolls, you can get nigiri sushi. These are single pieces of sushi, normally featuring premium ingredients, such as roe (fish eggs).
Of course, if you are a real fish lover, nothing beats Sashimi, which is large pieces of raw fish – so, sushi without the rice and seaweed. Don’t be scared – with a bit of soy sauce and wasabi, most sashimi goes down smooth.
For the Faint of Heart
It’s okay if you don’t want to eat raw fish – there are plenty of other options. You can start of appetizers such as Gyoza (fried dumplings of vegetables or pork), Wakame (seaweed salad – much better than it sounds) or Edamame (soy beans – also, better than you’d think). Some restaurants also do excellent spring rolls.
For main meals, you’ll find a selection of teriyaki rice bowls – normally with chicken, beef, vegetables or tofu.
Finally, there is always sushi without fish. You’ll always find yam tempura rolls, vegetable rolls and tofu rolls. You’ll also often find teriyaki rolls (normally with beef), as well as egg rolls. It isn’t uncommon to see an entire section of the menu dedicated to vegetarian rolls, with many more choices than these listed.
Where to Find the Best Sushi
So now you know what to get – next question: where to get it? Sushi restaurants are everywhere around Vancouver. Like anything else, though, some are better than others.
Kadoya, on Davie St, is the best sushi in all Vancouver. Everything is good, but their specialty rolls are exceptional. Right across the street from Kadoya is Samurai Sushi – also excellent. The appetizers at Samurai are especially good. Further east along Davie, you’ll find Yamato Sushi. Although not as good as the other two, it is still worth a visit, for something different (or if the lineups are too long at Kadoya and Samurai!)
If you’re on the Gastown end of town, Momo (375 Water St.), next to Waterfront Station, isn’t bad. It’s actually the first sushi place I ate at in Vancouver. Not as good of value as in the West End, but still decent.
Sushi Man, on Marine Drive, in North Vancouver is your best bet. It’s much larger than most sushi places, but it doesn’t sacrifice quality for the added size.
If you’re on your way down from Grouse Mountain, you may be tempted to stop at Sushi Mori, on Capilano Road. Don’t do it – it really isn’t worth it. Wait until you get back into town (or take a detour to Sushi Man).
Toyo Sushi, on Cambie at 6th, isn’t bad. They bring you complimentary Edamame, as well as sliced oranges after your meal, which is a nice touch.
The Eatery is a popular sushi place, which exemplifies the extraordinary variety you’ll find at some sushi restaurants. The menu has choices from fried avocado for a starter, to dozens of different sushi rolls, to a fried Mars bar for desert. It’s crowded and reservations seem to mean nothing, so either go patient, or go during the week.
If The Eatery is a bit much for you (and it can be, especially on the weekend), try Jun Sushi, a block east. It’s more of a hole-in-the-wall kinda place, but makes a mean sushi roll.
Many sushi restaurants are unlicensed, so they don’t serve alcohol at all. In those that do, you’ll normally find that Japanese beer and sake dominate the menu, although you can often find local beer and more typical wine.
Green tea is the most common drink, and is often free. It is almost always free in smaller places, and in more popular ones you generally pay $1. Pop and various other drinks (some common, some unique) are also available.
Sushi: A Necessary Vancouver Experience
At the end of the day, if you aren’t trying sushi while in Vancouver, you’re missing out on a quintessential Vancouver experience. There are so many good sushi eateries across Vancouver, that you’ve absolutely got to try at least one.
What about you? What are your favourite sushi restaurants? What are your favourite Japanese foods?