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How we Enjoyed An Amazing Izakaya Experience in Vancouver, BC
I want to tell you guys a little bit about an amazing izakaya experience in Vancouver, BC. We recently took a trip there and had a number of restaurants we wanted to try. At the top of the list were Guu with Garlic and Kingyo. We had heard great things about both places, so we just had to go. Mind you, I am a total sucker for Japanese food. I mean, I dream about it. Seriously guys, if you've never eaten at an izakaya, you've got to try! And if you're in Vancouver, either one of these places are AH-MA-ZING. Just sayin.
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What is an Izakaya?
What is an izakaya? I'm so glad you asked! An izakaya basically serves Japanese tapas, or small dishes. It is often referred to as a Japanese gastropub, similar to Irish pubs, only with Japanese food. Delicious Japanese food. I LOVE this concept because you can order so many different dishes without over stuffing yourself. But let's be honest, if you love Japanese food like I do, you're going to stuff yourself. However, it will totally be worth it. I always recommend sitting at the bar so you can watch these guys make your food - it's such a fun experience!
That said, I want to talk about an amazing izakaya experience in Vancouver, BC.
We looked forward to eating at this spot for months. And I seriously mean months. Note that they do not take reservations for parties less than 3, so if you're a party of two, get there early to avoid the wait. We arrived before they opened and secured a spot in the first seating. Seated right at the counter, we proceeded to look at the menu as though we had never seen it before. We had looked at this menu so many times we should have had it memorized, but alas, we were just so excited. Who gets that excited about eating at a restaurant? We do. Simple. Food experiences are just some of the best experiences. Anyway, once the waiter came by, we just started ordering.
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For the first round we ordered the kimchi udon, beef tataki, beef tongue, seared yellowtail and grilled pork cheek. All were absolutely wonderful. The grilled pork cheeks with ponzu was my favorite dish, but the rest all took a very close second.
Braised to tender perfection, the beef tongue was smothered in a garlic butter soy sauce. I could have licked the plate. Looking back, I wish I had. I mean, who cares what other people think, right?
A sucker for noodles, I fully enjoyed the kimchi udon. The noodles were cooked through, but still had that nice springy quality, and the sauce was deliciously creamy with the perfect amount of kimchi mixed in for a blast of umami flavor.
And that beef tataki - there are not many things I like more than raw beef (except perhaps cheeks...yummy, yummy cheeks). The beef was so fresh and served with a creamy garlic aioli.
Time for round two. Yes that's right, we needed more. I know need is a relative term, but I'm going to stick with it. This time we focused on cooked fish dishes. The miso marinated black cod was the best fish I have ever had. Hands down. The best. Look at those crispy caramelized edges - those were the best!
The grilled salmon collar was delectable. Salmon collar is one of the best cuts of fish to grill. Delicious and fatty I couldn't eat enough of this.
And the mackerel. The last dish of the evening. Another juicy, melt in your mouth fish. Served on a sizzling hot, this was the perfect way to end the meal.
We didn't have a single thing that I didn't love. It was all quite delicious and we left in a state of bliss to find our waffle dessert.
Now I've heard the dinner here is quite amazing, however, we stopped in for lunch. Which was absolutely amazing. We ordered a sashimi platter and the fish was SO DAMN FRESH! I couldn't choose a favorite - it was either the scallop or the salmon. I love fresh salmon; and look at that beautiful orange color! Nothing like fish of the Pacific NW.
Seasoned to perfection, the pressed mackerel sushi was so fresh and I absolutely loved the oily, strong flavor of this fish.
And again, we have beef tongue! It comes out raw with an sizzling hot rock and you just cook your tongue on the rock. Well I mean, you cook the beef tongue, you probably don't want to put your tongue on it. How fun right? And that dipping sauce...DELISH! As you may be able to tell, I love beef tongue. Love it.
So there you have it - two great izakayas right in the heart of Vancouver. If you've never been to an izakaya, it needs to go on your bucket list. Seriously, get your list out, write it down. I'm not kidding, do it.
If you love foodie travel, you should check out some of these other great spots: