After my ultimate foodie trip to New York and Chicago, here I am back on native soil in Vancouver. I am hoping to find something in Vancouver that would remotely match the creativity, diversity, and quality of what I had. Bistro Sakana proved to be a good place to start.
My first thought of this place was “oh no, not another dumb down izakaya franchise like Guu or Hapa”. But it wasn’t, despite it being located in the middle of hipster-filled Yaletown.
My worries further dissipated when I learned that the chef was Japanese – a female in fact. With Japanese chefs comes their hard working and detail-oriented culture, and it showed in their cooking.
Negitoro Gyoza, Japanese style pan-fried dumplings, stuffed with albacore toro and fresh green onion.
Tuna & Salmon Isobe Age, wild sockeye salmon & albacore tuna sashimi wrapped in nori seaweed, lightly fried with a rare centre, teriyaki and wasabi mayo drizzle. I was skeptical at this dish at first but my friend insisted on ordering it anyways. No regrets here. The texture on the fish had a sophisticated texture from its lightly fried outer layer progressing to its rare center. It was sending all kinds of signals in my mouth. An amazing, understated dish.
Tuna & Avocado Crepe, fresh avocado, blended with minced albacore sashimi in our spicy wasabi mayo sauce, wrapped in a delicate homemade crepe and drizzled with spicy sauce.
Yam Tempura French Fries, thinly cut yam sticks deep fried in light tempura batter, zesty soya reduction drizzle, hollandaise dipping sauce. Not sure how this dish crept up on our table under my watch (wasn’t my idea), but it just showed how the chef elevated this casual American classic by adding the slight soya drizzle. The dipping sauce was a must.
Chicken Kara-age, tender boneless chicken chunks marinated in garlic and ginger, deep fried in a crispy batter until golden brown. A safe dish that my friends ordered. Despite it being the more boring choice on the menu, the light batter complimented the very tender chicken quite well.
Duck A L’Orange Sakana, succulent roasted duck breast, fresh orange segments orange-miso sauce, delicate potato frite crown. Their “you must get this” signature dish, these six taster spoons highlighted the chef’s ambition and creativity. The sweet orange worked so, so well against the salty, delicious roasted duck. Very well done.
Caprese Roll, hotate scallops, fresh shiso-basil pesto, fresh tomato and bocconcini mozzarella, lightly sauteed and plated with an extra virgin olive oil and an aged modena balsamic reduction rim. The filling combination was mind boggling but let me just say this: don’t order sushi in an izakaya.
Beef Sukiyaki, tender sliced beef and veggies cooked at your table in a slightly sweet soya sauce broth. Again, skeptical about ordering sukiyaki at an izakaya but this hearty dish was actually pretty good. Love the sweet, depthful broth.
Creme Brulee Trio, a three part sampler of Creme Brulee flavors, featuring Macha (green tea), Hojicha (roasted green tea), and Black Sesame. Really, really good, probably worth it if you come here just for dessert. The three creme brulee tasted exactly what they advertised – real matcha and hojicha, may I add.
Oka San’s Chocolate Brownies, rich dark chocolate brownies lightly dusted with macha powder and served warm with natural vanilla bean ice cream and our own dark chocolate sauce. Again, surprisingly good. The brownies tasted fresh and full of chocolate flavor – definitely not your store bought variety. I probably don’t need to mention how good that went with the ice cream.
I’m at an amazement that this restaurant doesn’t have more attention than it deserves. The food was good and it had a sense of care and sophistication – a step up from all those Guu/Hapa clones. I would cut the menu down and eliminate those “entry level” menu items so it would be more focused, but it might upset the gaijins, so it’s up to you to order smart.