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Archive for the ‘Japanese’ Category

For the last couple of years, the dynamics of Vancouver’s restaurant sector have shifted. More commissary kitchens have opened, some restaurateurs have closed their brick and mortar to switch to a ghost kitchen concept, some aspired restaurateurs and bakers are testing the water without a brick and mortar. It’s relatively lower-cost to run a restaurant operation without the investment of a physical location with equipment, tables & chairs, dishware and decorations, and everything else. It’s especially appealing during the COVID-19 crisis now when a majority of business comes from take-out or delivery orders.

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Coho Commissary

Earlier in the year, Takenaka opened its door, figuratively speaking, by offering different types of Japanese bento boxes. It operates in one of the Coho Commissary locations in Vancouver. Their concept is inspired by the traditional bento boxes created by mom, while introducing a more artistic approach and bringing in fresh and interesting ingredients. The owner/chef Shogo Takenaka came from Kingyo Izakaya and its sister restaurant Raisu. Sous-chef Daiki Ishikawa was trained in Niigata prefecture, known for its finest quality in rice, sake and seafood. I was provided a few of their menu items for a tasting.

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Food

Among the items I received, right away my eyes were drawn to the Kaiseki Bento.

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Despite the COVID-19 crisis, new restaurants continued to open up in the Burquitlam area, including one I was really excited about. Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba, an international chain originated from Japan. You may have been to their other location downtown on Seymour Street. I did, and every time I walked away with a belly full of carbs and I didn’t regret it one bit. Opening their second location in Burquitlam means it’s much closer to home and more accessible to me. Even though dine-in service was not available at the time, I had to order take-out from them to support.

Note: This is a review of a take-out order during COVID-19. Since restaurants are operating under different circumstances, menu items and dining experiences may be different.

Food

Kokoro specializes something called mazesoba. It’s a dry noodle dish using fresh multi-grain noodle that is somewhere between ramen and udon. Kokoro makes these noodles fresh in-house. Most of their mazesoba bowls come with spicy minced pork and a combination of toppings such as minced garlic, green onions, seaweed flakes, and ground saba fish. A lot of those also come with a raw egg yolk, but for take out it’s been replaced by half soft boiled egg. To enjoy the noodle bowls, you stir everything together thoroughly. In fact, when you dine in, you could order a scoop of rice at the end of your meal to ensure you pick up every last bit of sauce.

 

For the four of us, we ordered one bowl each, including three different mazesoba bowls and one rice bowl to add variety, and a chicken karaage for appy. (more…)

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Recently, a famous Japanese tendon franchise — Kaneko Hannosuke — opened its first Canadian location in Vancouver. Tendon is the Japanese name for tempura rice bowl.

Their menu is simple: Premium, Special or Regular Tempura Bowl. All three bowls come with the following tempura — shrimp, kakiage (mixed seafood), soft boiled egg, seaweed and green bean. Premium includes a big piece of conger eel; Special with white fish; and Regular has mushroom. They have a Kid size for good measure, with tempura shrimp, pumpkin, soft boiled egg, seaweed and green bean.

I took Mama Lam and Papa Lam there on a Monday morning. (more…)

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The wait is over. One of the highly anticipated restaurants to open in Vancouver – Afuri ramen + dumpling – has officially opened its doors. The Afuri brand was established in 2001. This is the fourth ramen + dumpling location outside of Japan, first in Canada. Last year we went to Portland and checked out the ramen + izakaya and I was quite excited about the arrival of ramen + dumpling here in Vancouver. Technically the restaurant is in Richmond. It’s where Dazzling Cafe used to be (remember Dazzling Cafe?). I was invited to its media night and previewed some of its menu items.

Afuri ramen + dumpling uses a kiosk system. Meaning, you go up to one of the three kiosks at the restaurant, place your order, grab a number then head back to your table. At the media preview, to my surprise food arrived very quickly so I don’t think it would be a long wait at the table for your food.

Food

Afuri’s signature broth is chicken based. We saw this giant stock pot (apparently there’s only 3 of these pots in Vancouver and here’s one) that holds enough broth to serve 450-500 bowls of ramen. It takes 300lbs of chicken (meat and bones), 3 types of dried fish, konbu seaweed, and fresh vegetables, on a simmer at 90 degrees for 3 hours. They never bring this broth to a boil, to ensure a clear broth in your bowl. It also helps skimming the fat easier. They then add yuzu, a small citrus fruit native to Asia, to give this broth a refreshing taste.

As for noodles, they make them fresh, in house, daily. If you visit them at lunch, you will likely see the machines going, mixing and rolling the dough and cutting the dough into noodles. Will they run out? I was told they would make enough servings everyday and if need be, they can jump in and make some more to meet the demand.

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We’ve been to Ramen Koika a few times over the years, to both locations on Davie and Robson. We always ended up ordering a ramen. The black garlic one was my favourite and Mr. fell in love with the beef ribs one. Little did we know the Robson location actually has a K-Pocha Menu, serving up their version of many Korean favourites. We were invited to sample a few items off that menu.

Triple Black Garlic Ramen

Food

We love KFC! As in Korean Fried Chicken!! Their crust is always lighter and when they fry the chicken it’s always less greasy. And moist chicken breast.

It’s no difference here at Koika. The Soonsal Chicken can be either in sweet chilli or soy garlic, and we went for the sweet chilli as it’s our favourite sauce for KFC. There was a decent amount of boneless chicken pieces. The meat was moist, the exterior still held its crispiness and the sweet chilli sauce definitely packed some heat.

Soonsal Chicken

Next, the Gogi Tteok-bok-ki was spicy rice cake with pork belly. (more…)

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