Dix BBQ and Brewery (web site, map, 871 Beatty St. Vancouver, BC, Canada, phone: 604-682-2739) is a casual pub that specializes in American-style barbecue cuisine. Located downtown on Beatty Street very close to BC Place Stadium and GM Place, Dix is a popular place to visit before or after a sporting event.
Traditional barbecue in a young, fun, attitude-free environment.
I enjoyed some beer with friends, and also ordered a delicious burger item, the Drunk and Dirty Chicken ($11.99, pictured below) which their menu describes as chicken “grilled with your choice of: teriyaki, cajun, bbq or pesto – topped with cheddar cheese and bacon”. It was reasonably priced, a good sized portion, and mighty delicious.
Irashai Grill (web site, map, 1368 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 604-688-8697) is a newly opened Japanese fusion restaurant in the Coal Harbour neighborhood of downtown Vancouver. Having attended their open house a few weeks ago (see Part 1), I was interested in trying out the restaurant for an actual meal. I was in for a real treat!
My friend and I first ordered the Dragon Roll Sushi ($13.50, pictured below), which looked and tasted amazing. The Dragon Roll was on their special rolls menu (not listed on their web site) and was a creation made with shrimp, tempura, avocado, barbecued eel (unagi), and of course the sushi rice and nori seaweed. It was quite sweet tasting (because of the sauce that the eel is marinated with), and was light and immensely satisfying. I commented to my friend that I could easily eat one of these every day. If only I could afford it!
The Tako Sunomono (a cold salad made with octopus, vermicelli noodles and a sweet and tangy vinegary broth) was $7.50 and was presented very nicely in a large cocktail glass (pictured below). It is one of my favorite appetizers at Japanese restaurants and the Irashai version did not disappoint! I would have liked it to be bigger, but that is just my wishful thinking because it was a decent size for an appetizer after all.
Now comes to the most interesting part of the meal. We were perusing the menu and discovered a very unusual sounding sushi roll item. Unusual I say? Yes! I’ll explain.
In general, for creative dishes that are designed by the chef using a culinary “artistic license”, the name of the dish, if it is somewhat abstract and not a simple description of the ingredients, will relate to the theme of the dish in some way. What this means is, I was curious to see exactly what a Poison Spider Volcano would taste like. No kidding! Would there be an actual spider involved in this sushi, and would this spider have some sort of deadly poison? Also it was very important for me to find out how a volcano would be represented in the form of rice and other sushi-like ingredients on a dinner plate.
The good old poison spider and its friendly volcano home ($16, pictured below) was made with asparagus, soft shell crab, cream cheese, and was sprinkled with cheese. It was baked before serving and then topped with a super spicy miso sauce. Super spicy is an understatement! The powerful spicy sauce reminded me of the Crazy Boy Roll at Mr. Sushi but the Poison Spider Volcano sushi had a much more complex and rich flavor (thanks to the cheese and cream cheese). It was very filling, which is a good thing in my books. My vote: thumbs up, but the sauce was too spicy for my friend.
For dessert we tried their Marscapone Tiramisu ($5.50, also pictured below) which was a generous amount of cool sweet marscapone cheese served in an interesting ceramic tray topped with a layer of dusted cocoa. The cocoa was very fine and powdery. This was a wonderful contrasting dish to calm things down after the spicy spider!
Dragon Roll Sushi from Irashai Grill Japanese Fusion Restaurant in Vancouver BC Canada ($13.50)
Tako Sunomono Salad ($7.50) from Irashai Grill in Vancouver BC Canada.
Poison Spider Volcano Sushi ($16.00) from Irashai Japanese Restaurant in Coal Harbor, downtown Vancouver BC Canada.
Marscarpone Tiramisu dessert ($5.50) from Irashai Grill Japanese fusion restaurant in downtown Vancouver BC Canada.
Toratatsu Japanese Tapas Bistro (web site, map, 735 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, phone: 604-685-9399) is yet another excellent Japanese Izakaya (tapas) restaurant in Vancouver; this one is run by the same family who previously operated the superb (but now closed) Shiru Bay Chopstick Cafe in Yaletown.
At Toratatsu the Uno family has created a space that looks like a cozy New York bistro, but with a definite Japanese vibe that they say “would fit downtown Tokyo perfectly.” Chef Kodai Uno, 26, trained at the Pacific Institute of Culinary arts and at French restaurant L’Emotion, and is the youngest in a family of professional chefs. He brings a great deal of creativity and skill to his kitchen, crafting modern Japanese tapas with a fusion twist.
I was getting a little tired of Gyoza King and Hapa (which I both still like) so had to try this place. The decor is cool and comfy. The service friendly (always smiling) and the food was great! familiar dishes like Agedashi Tofu but with a twist (yama imo potato on top with tasty sauce). We also had the daikon salad (those are little fish sprinkled on top) which was so good, had to order a second.
My friends and I were quite hungry so we sampled a lot of delicious dishes (some pictured below).
For an order of chef’s special sashimi ($15.80) we chose the saba (mackerel), scallops, and salmon. The mackerel and scallops were seared with a blow torch right at our table, which made for quite the fiery entertainment!
The crab avocado salad ($8.80) was delicate and light, combining two of my favorite ingredients in a most favorable way.
The Ebi Chili Mayo ($8.00, deep fried prawn with Japanese mayonnaise and hot chili sauces) was gigantic and disappeared in a flash.
The Cheese Tofu ($6.80) looked like a fancy dessert cheese with strawberries, slivered almonds, and a sweet glaze, but tasted like a combination of custard, tofu, and a soft brie cheese. We also tried the Ishiyaki Risotto ($8.30) which was a nice sticky rice mixed with some succulent seafood.
My friends also ordered the Smoke Kissed Duck ($8.80), the Tarako Kimchi Udon ($7.80), and the Sashimi salad ($8.80), which looked amazing but I didn’t get a chance to try them. Hopefully next time!
Sashimi Salad from Toratatsu Japanese restaurant in downtown Vancouver ($8.80)
Crab Avocado salad ($8.80) from Toratatsu Japanese Tapas restaurant in the West End of Vancouver (Denman).
Chef's special Sashimi ($15.80) from Toratatsu in Vancouver (being seared with a blow torch!)
Another shot of the Chef's special sashimi from Toratatsu Japanese restaurant in Vancouver.
Smoke kissed duck ($8.80) from Toratatsu on Denman Street in Vancouver.
Ebi Chili Mayo (deep fried prawn, $8.00) - wonderful!! from Toratatsu Japanese Tapas Bistro in Vancouver
Ishiyaki Seafood Risotto ($8.30) from Toratatsu Japanese Tapas in Vancouver.
Cheese Tofu ($6.80, a nice sweet dessert or appetizer) - with strawberries and slivered almonds. From Toratatsu Japanese restaurant in Vancouver BC Canada.
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