VanVan Izakaya

Disclaimer: All food was complimentary but opinions are my own

I was invited to another ChineseBites event at VanVan Izakaya on Robson across from Forage. All the dishes below were shared between 6 people and we tried most of their menu. If you see awkward shadows in my photo, that’s someone else pointing their camera at the same time (or everyone)!

VanVan IzakayaThis was the Unagi Kabayaki with teriyaki sauce.  The eel had a nice sweet flavour from the teriyaki sauce and it was tender. I like eel so I approve of this. Continue reading →

Guu Original

Ah finally I visited the original Guu! So far I’ve been to Guu with Garlic, Guu Otokomae, Guu Garden and Guu Richmond! Okay that covers most of them right… Luckily we snagged the last spot at the bar and didn’t have to line up during dinner time. I just don’t like lining up x)

Sake MojitoMy friend had the Sake Mojito made with Ramune (Japanese soda with the marble at the top). It was pretty good and for me that means that I didn’t taste much alcohol haha The Ramune comes separately and you can pour in as much as you want yourself.

Guu OriginalThis was on the daily specials menu. I believe it was Tuna and Avocado with garlic chips and mayo? I forgot the name of this… It wasn’t too exciting and I think the avocado was a bit brown in some places. However the smooth texture went well with the fresh tuna. The garlic chips didn’t do much for me. I’m just not a fan of garlic in chip form.

Guu OriginalThis was the BBQ Eel and Seasonal Mushroom Rice Gratin. I’ve had this before and it was super tasty and warm! There was a decent amount of eel (which I have a weakness for) and the mushroom flavour was very evident. There was also a bit of cheese too and it was just delicious!

Guu OriginalThis was their version of Miso Marinated Sablefish. You just can’t go wrong with ordering this!!! Its’s so buttery and soft and flakey and it just melts in your mouth!!! I found the mayo on top really unnecessary though.

Guu OriginalThis was the Spicy Calamari and as good as it sounded on paper. It didn’t deliver in reality. It was just really underwhelming. It could’ve been seasoned better and the squid rings weren’t really that big and it wasn’t spicy. Also I think it was over fried. I should’ve got the chicken kaarage instead or something but I was trying to try something else.

Despite the small space and being crammed at the bar, the food was still pretty good and prices are fair.

Guu Original on Urbanspoon

Sushi Bella

After exploring Sushi Bella’s website online, I decided that it was a reasonably priced sushi place with menu items I’d like to eat. It seemed to be almost like an izakaya but with a lot more rolls and regular sushi house items. I also loved that their theme colour was turquoise. I’ve biased towards blue colours x) Sushi Bella has three locations: downtown, Kitsilano and North Vancouver. We visited the Kitsilano location on W4th avenue.

Sushi BellaFrom left to right: Ocean Dream roll, Paradise roll, Ugly Truth roll. They were all really tasty and interesting fusions. Especially the Ugly Truth roll which had “Bacon, asparagus, crab mix, cheesy chopped scallop tataki & bonito on top”. Mmm bacon! Need I say more? I’m still not over my bacon phase… The highlight of the Paradise roll was the mango salsa they had on top. Which was essentially cubes of mango with some refreshing sweet citrus dressing. The Ocean Dream roll had negitoro and avocado inside topped with tuna and a chili mayo sauce. All three rolls were very delicious!

Sushi BellaOn their daily specials menu, they had a Corn Cheese Croquette which sounded delicious (deep fried+cheese)! There were 3 large balls accompanied with a side of salad and mayo.

Sushi Bella

Close up!

Unfortunately this missed the mark for me. There was just way too much cheese and hardly any corn… the cheese just overpowered everything for me. If you like cheese though you might think differently. I think it was just cheddar cheese.

Sushi Bella

I noticed the Baked Dynamite on their menu and it sounded really good with various seafood items and lots of cheesy sauce. I don’t know why but I was in a cheesy mood that day. It had scallops, prawns, oysters, and some veggies like onions and mushrooms all covered in cheese. It actually looked like a baked seafood on rice dish from a HK style cafe minus the rice. We were informed that it would take longer for them to make this dish due to the baking. There was a decent amount of small seafood pieces. At least there were some veggies although it’s probably not healthy if they’re all covered in cheese. It was not bad but I wouldn’t order it again.

I wouldn’t mind coming back to try some of their other stuff like mango prawns or crispy crab cakes and sashimi nachos. If only they weren’t so far away because I would definitely visit more!

Sushi Bella 美 on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Guu Garden

My coworkers and I were going to go to Gyu-Kaku for lunch but there was a surprisingly long line up on Friday. So we just went upstairs to Guu Garden where it was pretty much empty in comparison. We just ordered from their lunch special menu which had items ranging from $9-15. The pricier sets include a salad and miso soup. Their regular menu is actually pretty small too.

Guu GardenI had the Chicken Karaage Rice Bowl (not sure if that’s what it’s really called). There was some cabbage underneath the large juicy pieces of chicken but they added way too much mayo! I just ended up mixing it in with my rice and I felt fat afterwards. Still good though! This was $9 and quite filling for me.

Guu Garden This was the Pork Katsu Don with an egg I believe. I tried a piece and it was really moist yet crunchy on the outside but I still prefer my chicken minus the mayo x)

Guu Garden on Urbanspoon

Zakkushi Charcoal Grill- Main St.

I had put Zakkushi on my list of places to try for a long time (and I have an extensive list!) and the Main St. location was pretty convenient to visit but I never went until last week. Zakkushi is situated in a corner of a plaza right next to Beefy Beef Noodle but since they’re only open at night it’s very easy to miss it during the day. There are also only two parking spots so don’t bet on that. The interior was quite small and my friend and I got a booth for two situated by the wall. The booths were very small and I was literally right next to the wall but it was cozy as well.  I’m pretty sure that if I became overweight in the slightest it would not be very cozy anymore…

Zakkushi Menu I love how they had such a large and colourful menu! Moreover, when the food came they actually looked like the pictures! Besides yakitori skewers, they also offer sashimi, appetizers and a small selection of hot tapas. There is also a separate menu of daily specials. It’s pretty much an izakaya style restaurant specializing in yakitori.

Zakkushi

First we had the kobe beef meatballs and the mochi maki. The kobe beef meatballs were extremely soft and tender. Absolutely delicious! The mochi maki looks like chicken in this picture but I assure you that it’s mochi. I’ve never had mochi grilled before nor have I ever contemplated it but since I love mochi I had to try it. It was quite soft, a bit stretchy but not hard to chew. The exterior wasn’t hard either although it may look like it in the picture. Although it was an interesting experience, I think I prefer my mochi sweet and un-grilled.

Zakkushi

Next we have the norimayo sausage, the gyu tongue and the negima (grilled chicken thigh with Japanese leek.  The sausage tasted very much like a  mini Japadog sausage. The gyu tongue was thinly sliced and tasty as well. The negima was surprisingly good since I thought the leek would make it taste weird but the leeks actually absorbed a lot of flavour and actually tasted a lot like the chicken. At this point, I was starting to notice that everything was on the salty side and they were starting to taste the same. Also the portions were super small!!! At a cost of approximately $2 or more per skewer, I expected a little more.

Zakkushi

Next up we have the nankotsu which was soft chicken cartilage and the p-toro which was pork belly. The chicken cartilage was … crunchy? The p-toro was less crunchy but still juicy and very delicious as well! As you can see, it was sliced very thinly.

Zakkushi set This was the Zakkushi set which included (from top to bottom): momo (sauce), umeshio yaki, p-toro, me maki and oropon beef. It was served with some grated radish on the side. The momo was just chicken thigh with some sauce. I’m not sure what sauce it was but it may have been slightly sweet. The umeshio yaki was chicken with plum sauce wrapped in a basil leaf. I really liked the plum sauce and once again the chicken was juicy and tender. Everything here seemed perfectly cooked! The me maki was garlic stubs wrapped with pork. I had no idea what garlic stubs were but they reminded me of asparagus a lot. I like that it gave it some more texture and the pork seemed a bit like bacon. I also didn’t notice any garlic flavour or else it was over powered by the salt. Lastly, we have the oropon beef which was AAA beef. The beef was nicely cooked and also juicy and tender. Yes I noticed I’ve been saying juicy and tender for everything and that’s because it’s true!

Zakkushi

Our last two skewers were the cheese tsukune and the norimayo tsukune. These were just chicken meatballs. The cheese didn’t not seem to go well with the chicken even though cheese does go well with a lot of things this didn’t seem to be one of them. Furthermore, it was also just processed cheese so it didn’t seem too special and did not add any flavour to the chicken. The norimayo tsukune was very tasty again and anything with norimayo reminds of a Japadog so I enjoyed this too.

Zakkushi We also had a chicken teriyaki don topped with a poached egg. The Japanese really seem to like poached eggs on their rice. I admit I was never really a fan of poached eggs before but now I’m ok with them. Once again, the picture is very close up and it looks like the portion is larger than it actually is. The chicken was flavourful and the egg pulled everything together nicely.

Zakkushi Here’s what it looks like when it’s mixed up. For some reason my phone refused to focus… ><

Zakkushi For dessert we had a green tea tiramisu. Yum! I love tiramisu and I don’t think I’ve tried a green tea version before so I was very excited about it. It did not disappoint me at all! Underneath all the mascarpone cream was some wonderfully flavoured and moist green tea cake. I would have liked it if the cream layer was a bit more stiff though since it was about the same texture as melted ice cream but not quite if you know what I mean.

Zakkushi I had to take a picture of the bill because the first item was 1 smile! So cute! =) We were pretty conservative with what we ordered and all the items were under $2. On the other hand it was pricey (which we expected) and not very filling so we could have used a couple more skewers but we used all our will power to resist! Overall it was a very enjoyable experience because we tried a variety of different things! I think the only other downside would be that they all seemed a bit too salty due to using sea salt. Especially after you eat a lot of them! I would probably prefer other more traditional izakaya places like Guu or Suika (see my post here) but you should try Zakkushi at least once!

Zakkushi PS. they also have a really cool (albeit small and narrow) bathroom! This is the sink and you have to turn the two valve handles and then water will come of out of the bamboo style pipe! How cool is that?

Zakkushi Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

Suika Snackbar

I’ve been dying to visit Suika for a while now especially after reading all the rave reviews. My friend and I managed to get there after I misread the map and thought it was past Burrard but it was actually between Granville and Burrard on Broadway. Oops! Anyway we were only ten minutes later for our reservation so it was all good. The exterior of the restaurant is very plain looking so it might be easy to miss if you were just passing by.

Suika bottle chandelierI’ve seen all the pictures of their famous bottle chandelier so I had to take a picture too! I was seated almost beneath it so I couldn’t really admire it as much.

Suika We found that the interior design of the restaurant was really interesting and unconventional and there was a certain ambiance to the restaurant as well. Unlike Guu, there was no order yelling and it was a lot more quiet inside although the service was still very friendly and attentive.

Chicken Karrage I have this huge thing for chicken karrage and all sorts of fried chicken in general so I had to get it. I did not notice that in the description it said that it was to be served with salt and pepper so I was a little disappointed that it didn’t come with Japanese mayo. However, it was equally delicious with or without it. There were six large pieces of boneless chicken and served piping hot. The chicken was very tender and juicy while the outside was crispy. It also didn’t feel too oily either.

Suika snackbox Next we had the deluxe Suika box filled with 9 appetizer samples. I’ll try and remember what they all were since the waitress went over it quite quickly!

Suika Snackbox Ok from top row: tuna tataki, lotus root with some dressing, spicy tuna

middle row: eggplant, spicy tofu, crackers and cream cheese

bottom row: some sort of cucumber salad with some meat, chicken with tomatoes and cucumbers, duck breast

We found it strange that there was crackers with cream cheese… otherwise the other appetizers were quite tasty although a few weren’t particularly special such as the spicy tofu (which was just firm tofu with some sauce over it) or the lotus root. Nonetheless they were all enjoyable! My favourite was the tuna tataki and the spicy tuna along with the unidentifiable meat and cucumbers. However, I don’t think I will order this again. For the price of $12 it seemed a bit pricey to me and I would rather get a different entree item instead.

Negitoro Battera Next up we had the negitoro battera which was pressed sushi with tuna, green onions and avocado with a soy dressing and seaweed sauce. Although the seaweed sauce doesn’t look too appetizing, the overall taste and texture was amazing! It just melted in your mouth and the flavours came together really well! I did not expect it to be that soft since it was called pressed sushi so I expected it to be more solid. The rice did seem to be a bit too soft though so it made it difficult for me to pick up the sushi although I could be lacking chopstick skills. I’m definitely going to be trying more pressed sushi! *drools*

Kakuni Bibimbap Finally we had the kakuni bibimbap was pork belly on rice served in a hot stone bowl. Mmm everything served in a stone bowl smells extra aromatic. The pork belly was sufficiently tender but still had some chew to it and went well with the marinade that they used for the rice and the rice was flavourful.

Overall we enjoyed our meal here and we loved the restaurant’s ambiance and decor. They were also showing Ultraman on a large TV over the bar as well. I also wish I had ordered some more interesting items so I will definitely come back sometime! Or I might have to try their sister restaurant Kingyo on Denman. The pricing is fair and in line with other izakaya establishments and their drinks selection seems pretty extensive too.

Suika on Urbanspoon

Guu Otokomae

So on Monday I went to watch the AMAZING Spiderman with a friend and it was really good! Much better than I expected =D Andrew Garfield <3

Then we went to Guu in Gastown. I think I only go to Guu like once a year or something and I haven’t tried this Guu before so we decided to go. We arrived at about 6 and it was fairly empty then which is good because I hate lineups. This Guu has two small floors and there are big open windows upstairs with a nice view of Water St. However we had to sit at this 2 person table that was in front of a small wall sooo crappy pictures. =S

Chicken Karaage! One of my fave dishes =D This was nice and hot and crispy and the meat was tender and not sure what the dip was but it was good!

This is the Spicy Ika Calamari. The calamari was lightly breaded so with all the sauce it wasn’t the usual crunchy kind and it wasn’t too chewy either. The sauce wasn’t that spicy actually even though it looks really red but it had a hint of sweetness somehow? At the bottom there was some kind of mayo too but we didn’t really use it.

Okonomiyaki!!! My other fave <333 I can’t find a good one anywhere… recommendations anyone? This had 6 pieces and every piece had at least two pieces of squid. I love how it’s sorta crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside with the cabbage and the sauce is so good.  I’d eat anything with that sauce.

Yam fries! These were pretty big and very filling! The sauce was honey mustard which was nice too but I was expecting more mayo haha These are made with real yams!!! =O I’ve never had so much yam in a yam fry before. We were too full from the rest of our food so we didn’t end up finishing all of it. The portion was also slightly bigger than I expected or I guess I’m used to seeing the skinny yam fries from like Moxie’s or something.

BBQ Kalbi. I think I expected more than one skewer but they gave us a giant skewer instead. For some reason a lot of the food came on long plates. The beef was cooked nicely and the veggies had a lot of pepper on it but otherwise I didn’t think it was that special so I don’t think I’ll get this again.

Saba with garlic herb. The fish was really soft and flaky. It was also well marinated by the soy sauce so it may be on the salty side for some people. It was on a bed of veggies such as peppers, onions and celery. Presentation was very nice too. It was also boneless.

BBQ eel bibimbap. They mix this at your table for you right away so I didn’t get a picture of it before. You can really taste the sautéed mushrooms in this! It had egg, seaweed, BBQ eel, and green onions. The parts at the edge of the stone bowl get crunchy after =)

Close up!

The bill came with 4 frozen grapes and I was quite stuffed after so we probably could have skipped the yam fries. Save money and calories! Guu is Guu’d! :D

~Chubbybunny077
Guu Otokomae on Urbanspoon