It’s quite welcoming to see an izakaya that’s open for lunch and just a few blocks from where I work. Though there are quite a few in Vancouver, they’re either buried in downtown (thanks to Mayor Moonbeam for inflated parking fees and bike lanes) or never opened for lunch. When I realized it was open, I made it a mission to try out (almost) everything on the menu. Read on to see my recon report of the things I tasted during my visits over the course of two weeks.
Suika is located on broadway, between Granville and Burrard, very close to where I work. How convenient! It is also one of the few izakayas that’s open for lunch, though downing sake during weekday lunch is probably a bad idea, for me anyways. The decor was casual but quite funky. There was a chandelier made out of beer bottles and a giant TV screen playing old episode of Doraemon, and another time, some Power Rangers clone that was so bad, it was actually funny. The waitress actually thought I was an idiot because I was laughing at it.
The menu was huge, innovative, and entertaining to read. There were tapas (Suika called itself a “snackbar” after all), set meals, and dessert. A fresh sheet was also available. There were a lot of items on the menu that an adventurous diner would just keep on coming back to try them all. It was good for my tastebuds, but it was a kick in the face for my wallet.
And now for the food. These thoughts were gathered over maybe three weeks, and not one sitting. The set meals came with race, miso soup, and some radish (not pictured).
The Hiramasa Carpaccio was served with mayonnaise & parmesan cheese, seared and served with sesame soy dressing. To be honest, this felt more like a salad dish than a carpaccio. The fish was cut quite thin, and the garnish was overwhelming. There just wasn’t enough to bring the taste out, and I thought overall, it was bland.
The Negitoro Battera, with tuna belly, scallion, avocado sesame topped with soy based dressing and seaweed sauce, looked interesting, so naturally I ordered that. I thought it was too mushy and slimy, and none of the flavors jumped out at me. I was looking forward to this dish because it had some nice reviews, but I was disappointed.
The Black Cod Cheek was the first thing I ordered on my first visit. I thought I would order the most unique item on the menu and this would be it. I was quite surprised when it was served: it was huge! As for the taste, it was too salty and over seasoned. Some areas were even burnt. After I patiently dug around for around 20 minutes, I did managed to get some smooth, silky fish meat which was meant to be the star of this dish. However, I just didn’t think it was worth it after the time I spent playing Operation on this carcass.
The Hamberg Steak Set was served on a hot plate with soy based sauce. You can add cheese for an extra $1.50. Unfortunately, I forgot. The beef was cooked well done (thanks Health Canada), but thankfully it was still juicy and seasoned. The soy sauce it came with went well with it, and I liked how I could dip it with slices of cooked potatoes.
The AAA Beef Steak Set made a grand entrance. It was served on a hot plate with a side of soy, butter, seaweed, garlic with the potato served with soy based sauce. The sauce was poured the moment the dish was served, which created a nice sizzling noise on the hot plate as well as a nice aroma (and made my neighbors jealous). The meat was lean and cooked medium rare. Both the meat and the potatoes were heavily seasoned and the thick sauce made this dish quite rich and delicious.
The Beef Shortrib Set, fried and tossed with sweet balsamic beef short rib, was probably the best tasting set on the menu. The meat was perfectly cooked, juicy, super tender, melt in your mouth, and slid right off the bone. You probably won’t need the knife! I did find the sauce a bit excessive and the balsamic overpowering with sweetness.
And now for the desserts. I love Creme Brulee’s and I was happy they had two for desserts. I quite liked the Matcha Creme Brulee. It was somewhat frozen but creamy. The caramelized sugar crust was sweet, and it added a bit of a crunchy texture. I’m not sure if the red bean sauce were needed as it only added a slight hint of red bean flavor to the dessert.
The Summer Creme Brulee was a little lighter than the Matcha, but it came with a side of mango gelato and strawberry sauce. The strawberry sauce was quite sweet, and it contrasted the vanilla brulee and the mango galato quite nicely.
The Almond Tofu was interesting. Texture was smooth and silky as expected from a tofu, and that was the perfect texture to clean up the palate after a meal. The tofu had a strong almond taste, but the sweetness of the strawberry sauce created a nice little balance.
Service was friendly and attentive. Although they didn’t speak perfect English, I thought it added a bit of authtencity to the atemopshere. Everyone greets you when you enter and when you leave…love that energy. I went here on Halloween and all the waitresses were all dressed up, so that was a nice little bonus!
Overall, the menu was a hit and a miss. Thankfully the menu is extensive, exciting, fun, and there was something for everyone. And yes, this is open for lunch, so if you are craving izakaya for a power lunch, this popular joint is the place to be.