Kanpachi Japanese Restaurant – Vancouver, BC


Kanpachi Japanese Restaurant
457 Broadway West
Vancouver, BC
(604) 879-8228

[prefectionist1] I had my eye on this newcomer to the Cambie Village Restaurant scene and I was happy to take up Shokutsu’s offer of grabbing a bite to eat.  With the recent opening of the Canada Line, Kanpachi is in an ideal visual location as it is one of the first restaurants you see upon exiting the the new Broadway/City Hall Station. It seemed like the the Russian cuisine restaurant Rasputin, was transplanted overnight with yet another Japanese restaurant.  I had walked past Rasputin on several occasions but with the dark interior, I was never tempted to sit down for a meal.  Kanpachi provides much improved street appeal and I also heard a few things about the new digs before we decided on it for dinner.  BBQ was on my mind but that’ll have to wait for another day…

Sushi Shoot ($3), essentially seared tuna.

[prefectionist1] It seems that whenever I get together with Shokutsu, we tend to have the same approach to menu selections…  Either we go for the most obscure, or the most traditional items.  My thought process is that if you are going to push the culinary boundaries, go to the extreme; if you go traditional, do it right and have respect for the original creation.

The menu at Kanpachi was straightforward with  everything on the menu being relatively inexpensive.  The first choice for dinner this evening was the Sushi Shoot which was just a fancy name for seared maguro (tuna) nigiri sushi.  On the palate, the ponzu infused diakon overpowered the delicate flavor of the maguro.

It may be my opinion, but searing raw tuna serves to add complexity to the generally light flavour profile of the fish.  With the heavy handed addition of the ponzu infused/soaked diakon, I wasn’t overly sold on the dish.  It wasn’t bad, nor exceptional so I would give it a <shrugging shoulders> “meh”…

[shokutsu] I’m all for light searing, especially when it involves quality maguro (tuna).  I think we were more intrigued by the name of the item more than anything else.  The fish itself was pretty good in terms of its texture and flavour.  On the topping, I’m with prefectionist1, it didn’t do much for me either.

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Ebisu on Broadway – Vancouver, BC


Ebisu on Broadway
601 W. Broadway #12
Vancouver, BC
(604) 876-3388

Ebisu (Kamei Royale) on Urbanspoon

I know what you’re thinking, not another sushi restaurant review!  The frequency of Foodosophy posts relating to sushi is for good reason. In the Lower Mainland, sushi restaurants are as ubiquitous as Starbucks. To mix things up a bit, I thought I’d take a different approach and compare take-out and dine-in experiences from the same establishment.  The guinea pig for this little culinary experiment was Ebisu on Broadway. I’m still confused about the name of this restaurant since the street signage clearly says Ebisu, the menu says Kamei Royale and the “coming soon” website refers to Kamakura. Maybe customer confusion is how you distinguish yourself in the Vancouver sushi scene. This restaurant clearly has a case of confused identity and I was hoping this wouldn’t translate into the food.

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From a takeout perspective, sushi is a fantastic item for a quick grab and go, but is equally enjoyable during a sit down meal. To start this commentary, I’m going to walk you through my first take-out experience at Ebisu on Broadway. I was having a late evening craving for some sushi so I decided to follow the neon “open” sign clearly visible from the corner of W.8th Ave and Ash. After navigating a steep and narrow stepped staircase, I arrived at the sparsely populated restaurant. This visit was mid week and close to closing time so I wasn’t expecting to see a large crowd of people. The takeout menu caters to large groups and the combination platters would easily feed a small family. Since I was looking more for a snack, I decided to order a-la-carte. Keeping it simple I went with a small sashimi salad and an assortment of nigiri which included a couple of pieces of saba (Spanish mackerel), toro (tuna belly) and a piece each of hamachi (yellow tail) and uni (sea urchin roe). I placed my order and sat down in the small seating area next to the entrance. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the assortment of Japanese language newspapers and magazines. In my view, this is always a good sign when eating at a Japanese restaurant. After a few minutes of attempting to read a Japanese newspaper, my order was packaged and ready to go.

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Sushi was correctly proportioned and could be eaten in a single mouthful. The fish was fresh and the rice had the right amount of bite to it. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to sushi where quality will always trump quantity.

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After devouring my sushi, I tucked into the sashimi salad. Visually, the salad presented well, even in a Styrofoam container. Taste wise, it failed. I’m not a fan of mayonnaise based dressings and the some of salad was wilted. I personally prefer vinegar based dressings so had I known, I would’ve probably never ordered it, but the wilted salad is hard to forgive. Overall, I’d definitely go back for the sushi and stay away from the sashimi salad.

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Dining in was a different experience. We were seated in a private room with ample lighting and seating for four. It felt isolated from the rest of the restaurant and would be perfect if you were looking for a private date. Similar to the takeout menu, the dine-in menu caters to group dining with large sushi and sashimi platters. There was an assortment of cooked dishes and I was tempted to go the combination dinner which gives you the option of choosing several dishes for a fixed price. In the end, we decided on a sushi/sashimi platter, the shrimp gyoza and the tuna tataki salad. From my previous takeout experience, I was hesitant about the salad but agreed since the menu described as having a vinaigrette dressing. I was impressed with how quick the large sushi/sashimi platter arrived as it was beautifully presented on a wooden boat. The sushi and sashimi was fresh and the maki’s were well prepared. They put great effort in their presentation and it definitely shows.

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The salad was the next to arrive and true to form, presentation was well done. Flavor wise, the salad again missed the mark. The tuna was seasoned with a Cajun spice blend which completely masked the tuna’s delicate flavor and to top it off, the salad had a balsamic dressing. The combination of raw tuna, Cajun spices and balsamic dressing just didn’t work. So strike two on the salad front and I don’t know if I’m willing to try a third time, even if it’s supposed to be a charm.

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The shrimp gyoza were the final item to arrive and again presentation was impressive. Three gyoza were neatly arranged on a bed of green onions and deep fried wontons with a side of a basic soy sauce and vinegar mixture. One of my favorite things about gyoza are the crispy bottoms of the steamed dumplings. Unfortunately, in order to achieve this crispiness, the shrimp were complete overcooked and rubbery in texture. Although pleasing to look at, it didn’t taste very good. I also felt somewhat wasteful, since you leave behind the deep fried wontons and the bed of green onions. I don’t feel bad for leaving behind a sprig of parsley, but a quarter cup of green onions seems a bit wasteful. Overall, service was excellent and the food arrived in a timely manner. Even though we were tucked into a private hut, our orders were taken quickly and our tea was refilled frequently. So two thumbs up for the service staff.

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So comparing the takeout and dine-in experiences, one thing is clear. I’ll be back for the sushi and sashimi and the service was excellent during my take-out and dine-in experiences. So next time I’ve got a craving for sushi, I’ll definitely head in Ebisu’s/Kamei Royale/Kamakura’s direction. Hopefully they’ll finalize their name one day.

Ebisu (Kamei Royale) on Urbanspoon

Original Cupcakes – Vancouver, BC


Original Cupcakes
2887 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 974 1300

Original Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

In my mind, cupcakes and childhood birthday parties are synonymous.  Fast forward a few years and I was introduced to “gourmet” cupcakes at a wedding.  Rather than having a traditional wedding cake, the bride and groom had a tower of cupcakes.  Fast forward a few more years, I was walking down West Broadway one Saturday afternoon and I came across a cute little shop selling what else…  Cupcakes of course!  The décor of Original Cupcakes is something you’d expect to find in a little girls dollhouse.  I was impressed with the look of the pink hued store, complete with cupcake shaped light fixtures.  From the bustle in the open bakery in the back and the sweet smell in the air, I thought it’d be a shame to leave without some cupcake bounty.

I’m not the type that indulges in baked sweets very often, but for some reason cupcakes are an exception.  Wanting to try more than a single sweet something, I decided on a half dozen mini cupcakes.  This being my first time in the store I thought these were perfect!  The cake portion was moist and had just the right amount of sweetness.  The frosting also wasn’t overly sweet and each had their distinct flavor profiles.  If I were to pick my favorite of the bunch, it would have to be the “mint condition”.  To get a feel for their cupcake lineup, they’ve got them all listed on their website.

Funny how things happen and later that week I was at a local grocery store and overheard a conversation about the Cupcake store on W Broadway.  The cashier informed the customer ahead of me that Original Cupcakes also makes great cakes.  Making a mental note, a cake will definitely be on my list for a future gathering and I’ll more than likely end up indulging in a couple of cupcakes, maybe even a big one next time.

As a final note, I’ve just learned that every month they have a “cause cupcake” where a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each cupcake goes to the cause of the month.  You should check out the story behind January’s “bizzy lizzy” on their blog.

Original Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Burgoo Bistro – Vancouver, BC


Burgoo Bistro
4434 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 221 7839

Shokutsu: Big, bold, hearty stews.  I think many cultures around the world have them in some form or another.  Perhaps, its all derived from our primitive roots when meals evolved into these one pot wonders cooked over fire, that were filled with the meat of animals that were killed on the plains, in the mountains and forests of our great planet, as well as the local vegetation that was available to help flavor everything and provide other nutrients for our human ancestors.

Skipping to the modern day, Burgoo Bistro has taken this concept to heart, priding itself on offering ‘food for comfort’.  The ‘classics’ section on their bistro menu features some current takes (some quite liberally I might add) on this stew concept with homages to variations from around the world, such as the Decadent French Onion, Ratatouille Provencale, Lamb Tagine, Butter Chicken and even incorporating their namesake in the Kentucky Burgoo. Having expanded to three locations (two in Vancouver, one in North Vancouver), as well as burgeoning retail and catering elements to their business, the empire continues to grow, and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

As described by the menu, my ordered Irish Stew was comprised of Guinness-braised lamb and vegetables, along with homemade dumplings and garlic tinged mash potatoes.  Honestly, I am not a frequent drinker of this dark beer, but could not really tell if it had added anything to the flavor in this dish.  Perhaps it was the under-seasoned chunks of lamb meat?  I mean they were not overdone, but at the same time lacking any true tenderness, as some took more effort to chew.  If there was a positive, for those who don’t like the game-y scent of lamb, there was very little of it here.  The added vegetables also did nothing to excite my taste buds as they were also very conservatively seasoned, and the dumplings, other than providing perhaps the softest texture in this bowl besides the soft mash, again did not impress and were clearly an afterthought.  Finally, I had wished they had provided more of the broth in which it was cooked and reduced in, as near the end, it was evident that the ingredients were drying out in my bowl, making the glass of water nearby seem more and more appealing.  That should never happen when having an actual meal.

And now, without any further delay, I would like to introduce to you all our newest Foodosophy contributor, and my dining companion on this day, for his thoughts on our meal together…

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Prefectionist: First off, my thanks go out to Shokutsu and Foodosopher for giving me the opportunity to express my opinions on Foodosophy. I’ve come to appreciate the writing styles of Shokutsu and Foodosopher and will strive to describe my eating adventures as eloquently as they do.

As a relative newbie to Vancouver, I’m still not used the gray skies and the constant drizzle that’s associated with the change in seasons here. So indulging in something warm and hearty was definitely enticing on this rainy day. Looking at my options, I quickly decided on the Beef Bourguignon. This classic French dish is essentially a stew that calls for braised beef, carrots, mushrooms, pearl onions and garlic. Mashed potatoes, rice or noodles are secondary to the stew.

Once my meal arrived I immediately noticed the generous portion of mashed potatoes topped with the beef bourguignon. In my opinion, the key factor that makes or breaks a bowl of stew is the braised beef. It should be moist, tender and be barely holding itself together. Frankly, the beef was just cooked not braised, making for some tough pieces of meat. The pearl onions lacked any good caramelization and much like the beef, the carrots were undercooked. On the bright side, the mashed potatoes were excellent, but unfortunately, I wanted Beef Bourguignon.

Did it satisfy my initial cravings for something warm and hearty? Yes. Would I recommend it? Probably not. I’m a big fan of French onion soup so maybe I’ll give that a try on another rainy day, which judging from the forecast, shouldn’t be that far away.

Burgoo (Point Grey) on Urbanspoon