Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar – Vancouver, BC

Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar
1095 Hamilton St (Yaletown)
Vancouver, BC V6B 5T4
(604) 688-8078

I wanted to like Blue Water. I really did. The Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar, from all appearances, was everything i wanted to like. They are in a nice space that isnt too pretentious and has a lot of energy. They serve environmentally sustainable seafood. The service was immaculate. Decent wine program. They even recognize the Japanese approach to seafood, and brought in Itamae Yoshihiro formerly of Yoshi’s on Denman to serve two very different styles of West Coast seafood. I really wanted to love it, and yet, i didnt.

Upon walking into Blue Water, we were immediately greeted by a friendly hostess. We had showed up early so we could have a seat at the bar, and take it all in.  Our bartender was busy – prepping drinks for tables, and other bar patrons, but took the time to let us know he’d be right with us. Through the course of our time there, he was friendly, efficient, helpful, and engaging.


Besides the really tasty (and free) bread sticks that are available at the bar, we wanted to sample some oysters. While we were handed an oyster menu with 12 or 14 choices, listed, they typically only bring in 6 to ensure maximum freshness. We sampled these extensively, and while not all were to our tastes, they were all very fresh. We did find a couple that we loved, and ordered several more of those!


Once seated for the meal, there was palpable excitement at the table.  A couple of people decided to order the tower of power – the Blue Water Cafe Tower. Three levels of seafood on ice.  All fresh. The most notable was the jellyfish, which was a positive eyeopening experience for many people.


I stuck with slightly more traditional offerings.  It being fall, shellfish, uni, and tuna are all in season. Local BC Uni – creamy and fantastic, like a touch of the ocean.


Toro Sashimi. Fresh, fatty, goodness. Pretty affordable, at 17.50 for 7 pieces.


Pacific Rim Seafood Soup.Light broth with poached seafood. First real miss of the day. Fresh – yes. Boring? Yes. Uninspired? Definitely.


Two people tried to order White Sturgeon, but they were sold out. So one opted for Big Eye Tuna. Fresh – yes. Boring? Yes. Uninspired? Yes.


Sablefish was a big hit with many diners.


The Pastry chef did a phenomenal job of serving up some inspired creations. I actually liked this better than Diva at the Met.


Blueberry Almond Tart.


I’d be remiss if i didnt mention the wine list – which had a diverse, excellently chosen selection of wine.

Overall, I tried my best to enjoy it – and really, Blue Water Cafe tried their best to create a great experience for me. However, in the end, it didnt work for me. Service was great. Food was fresh. But the best parts really were the offerings from the Raw Bar. My dining companions felt it was one of the best seafood meals they’ve ever had, but rightly or wrongly, it didnt even come close for myself. That inspiring “ooooh” you get when you have fresh, tasty seafood just didnt trigger. Instead, i ended up with a very pricey meal where i enjoyed the oysters and the sashimi. Eating at Blue Water Cafe is an experience, and I encourage everyone to give it a shot at least once. I just know i wouldnt spend my hard earned dining dollars there again. And that’s telling enough.

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

6 thoughts on “Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar – Vancouver, BC

  1. The best parts are indeed from the Raw Bar. I treat Blue Water as a sushi bar and go there for Yoshi. I do like the Frank Pabst’s (Exec Chef) part of the equation – but I have had both unremarkable and remarkable meals there on his watch.
    So instead of giving up entirely on Blue Water – I urge you to recognize that it is actually two restaurants in one. (PS I have not had fresher and better uni anywhere else.)

    Andrea Vescovi is perhaps the best sommellier in the city. He also knows his Sake – Blue Water has the most extensive list in the city. Super nice guy too.

    • Perhaps this is a case of mismanaged expectations – but im really not sure. Im honestly a bit confused by this. Like i said, every element of the experience ranged from pretty good to very very excellent. But overall, something didnt jive for me. There was nothing inherently wrong. But when i was asked if i would go back, i just didnt feel like i would. It’s like the person you date that is perfect on paper, and extremely nice and kind and thoughtful, but just isnt for you? I think Blue Water is that place for me. I have nothing but nice things to say about them. Still wouldnt go back.

      Im actually ok with the dual approach/two restaurant aspect of Blue Water. It provides a wide range of diversity that i enjoy. It certainly didnt impact my opinion one way or another.

      I really respect your opinion Gastro – which is maybe why i wanted to like it so much. Sorry it didnt work for me.

      In terms of Sake, i’ve been shopping at True Sake, so im a bit spoiled there 🙂

      • No worries foodosopher. I have had the same type of response to other much loved restaurants.

        True Sake – I haven’t made it out to this wonderful looking store yet.

  2. My experiences match that of yours. The food and service are usually impeccable but I think the expectations have been worked up too high. Of the 4 Top Table Group restaurants, the one that I go back over and over again is actually CinCin. Araxi is a trip on its own. I find West and Blue Water suffers from over exposure in the media, not to mention celebrity chefs, cookbooks whatnot.

    • Interesting – i felt the same way about West too. I will try CinCin next time. Thanks for the tip, and the re-affirmation!

      • I’m not a fan of CinCin personally, I have had service and food issues there once too often…but YMMV. There have been some recent staff changes there too (a bit of a revolving door for chefs there).

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