The coastal city of Vancouver is an outdoor paradise, blessed with views of mountains and salt-kissed ocean air. Go for the scenery and stay for the food! It's also one of the top cities in North America to dine in -- especially if you favour Japanese cuisine. With the largest population of Japanese-Canadians in the country, Vancouver offers some of the finest Japanese food in North America.
With access to fresh seafood and organic, local produce, it's easy to find authentic, affordable and delicious places to dine in. Here's our guide to the tastiest treats.
- Visitors to Vancouver are spoiled for choice when it comes to sushi restaurants -- whether it's high-end or all-you-can-eat. Visit Toshi Sushi (181 E. 16th Ave.) for top sushi at a decent price; head there at off-peak times to avoid crowds. If lines aren't your style, go to Yuji's (2059 W. 4th Ave.), a hidden gem of a restaurant which offers sushi and Japanese tapas. For a zen-like atmosphere and beautifully plated sushi, Octopus Garden (1995 Cornwall Ave.) won't disappoint.
- A Japanese riff on the American fast-food favorite, Japadog (walk-in store at 530 Robson St.; three food carts in the city) serves up hot dogs with Japanese toppings such as spicy wasabi mayo and teriyaki sauce. You never know who you might spot: action star Steven Seagal, rapper Ice Cube and indie band Vampire Weekend have stopped by while in town.
- Chase a hot dog with a cream puff at Beard Papa. Located next to Japadog as well as boasting multiple locations, those with a sweet tooth can feast on freshly-baked puffs. They are available in classic vanilla, chocolate and assorted flavors of the day, including strawberry and green tea.
- If charred meat is more your thing, head to Zakkushi. The yakitori restaurant (with multiple locations) offers grilled-to-order skewers of meat and vegetables cooked over Japanese charcoal. Bet you can't eat just one. Or chow down on Japanese fast food -- the humble, but delicious teriyaki beef bowl -- at Gyudonya (500 Robson St.).
- Wash down a glass or two of Sapporo beer with late-night snacks and other accompaniments at Kingyo (871 Denman St.). The izakaya, a Japanese version of a tapas bar, offers many small dishes to go with beer or sake. Don't miss a taste of dessert: the almond tofu is a creamy, sweet pudding-like treat that will have even tofu-haters begging for another spoon.
- Got ramen? There's a noodle soup war brewing at the corner of Robson and Denman streets. Head to Kintaro (788 Denman St.) for pork-heavy broth and nontraditional toppings such as cheese (!). Be prepared to wait, as the tiny shop can only hold so many diners. For a more refined experience, go two doors down to Motomachi Shokudo (740 Denman St.) and try the charcoal ramen, which is said to be detoxifying. Or try Hokkaido-style ramen at Santouka (1690 Robson St.), which consists of lighter broth, no vegetables and tender pork cheek.
Like any great food city, there's more to devour in Vancouver than just Japanese food. Don't forget to explore Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Korean, Vietnamese, Burmese and Indian restaurants while in town -- if there's any room left in your stomach.
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