833 Granville St
J: In this trip to Vancouver, our goal was to have fun at the Queen and Adam Lambert concert at Rogers Arena. Part of our plan after the show was to revisit one of our favourite ramen joints, Ramen Jinya, before heading off to the Kingston Hotel for some well deserved rest. Unfortunately things do not turn out as I hoped. My mind could understand Ed’s enthusiasm to stick around after the concert to meet the musicians, but my stomach was not so forgiving. After 30 minutes and no food nor autograph in site, Ed and I did what we always do best — to hit the pavement and hope we could find something remotely edible along the way.
E: One of these days, meeting a musician I adore and getting an autograph will happen! I need something to sit next to my much beloved photo with Metal Queen Lee Aaron! All it takes is persistence and that’s what I do best. But even my tummy was aching and did I want to pass up the foodie scene in Vancouver? I think not!
J: And it was because of Ed’s dilly dallying that we discovered a Japanese Izakaya establishment that was open until midnight! ShuRaku was plenty busy even with 30 minutes before closing. Ed and I would have to order fast and eat faster or else we would be forced to make a soup from our shoes and socks or eat fast food.
E: We did past a shawarma place on the way to Granville, but I guess James was not in a mood to imitate the post-credits scene in the first Avengers movie.
That’s okay because in what we discovered at Shu-Raku can put So-Ya back home in Victoria to shame (sadly our home favourite is now closed). The decor was truly modern Japanese and the dishes was superbly diverse. I had trouble deciding but eventually settled for a mix of sushi and cooked (thanks to stealing the nibbles from James’ plates). I must say the BBQ squid made for a great start; the goods were imported straight from the seas of Japan.
J: I was still chuckling from the picture of Astroboy on the men’s (or boys’) washroom door. I really liked this place, it had a lively atmosphere. The first thing that caught my eye from the menu was the squid. The waiter confirmed they source their tentacled dish from Japan!
I was sold on the robata style and for now it is the closest I will come to attending a festival in Japan. The squid was BBQ’ed to perfection. Until the day I taste the wares offered at Festival of the Squid in Noto-cho Ogi, Japan this is by far the best robata squid I’ve ever tasted.
E: That’s provided if James does not mutate into an aquatic life so he can swim over to Japan. I’d probably arrive faster with wind as the element but I digress. I enjoyed every nibble too and wanted to go Cthulhu on my meal. In fact, I did by sampling as much of the sea life as possible. For me, dining Japanese style means eating off the land, air and sea. I took a gamble at what the Roulette Roll entailed, and it was a tasty morsel. I never heard of black seaweed soy sauce before and that gave this maki style roll the flourish needed to help bring out the flavours of the avocado and scallop in the roll. Not every bite had a neatly crisped lotus root slice on it, but wow. I was almost speechless as I nibbled away.
J: I was wowed with how the regional Nagoya dish, a Hitsuma-bushi, was presented. It’s a bowl of seasoned rice topped with fresh water eel accompanied by a pot of dashi stock. This was my first time having such a complicated dish but it was fun to experiment with. And in the end I thoroughly rewarded for my efforts. If there is two places I would love to live it would be the UK or Japan. But after this dish, the foodie of me is choosing to serve the emperor over the queen.
E: Waitaminute. James admits to being a foodie? Pinch me.
After we saw A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story at the Victoria Film Festival a year ago, I think James is finally appreciating the finer points of Japanese-style dining. Good on him! Thankfully, his training video was not Tampopo otherwise he’d be in trouble. There’s definitely a great zen to ShuRaku. I could taste it in the dishes I tried.
I love scallop and had more than just one roll with this ingredient inside. For a Saturday, the stocks was nicely fresh. Even the Tuna and Unagi I had that soft mouth-watering elegance that I come to expect from being brought to proper room temperature for taste-bud tasting.
Along with the other dish with was essentially deep-fried lotus root with shrimp (Renkon Hasami Age), the warm hard shell made for a great complement to all the cold dishes I had. I could not be anymore pleased with the many flavours I experienced. It was like finding myself immersed in the great barrier reef to see and experience all the colours that can be found here.
That even includes a nicely made Raman dish that I haven’t had for a super long time.
J: The ramen noodles broth had a deep rich flavour that delighted my taste buds. I’m going to say it is not better but it is equal to Kuma Noodles in the Gordon Head area of Victoria. And if Ed and I have not stressed it enough, all the food that was brought to our table was presented in a very visually appealing manner. I would dine here anytime.
E: I think what this place offers is better than Kuma. The pork was supple and the nori was a sweet touch to blanch the broth. I could have easily stolen that Ramen bowl from James if it wasn’t for the fact that I figured my sushi rolls would fill me up.
J: Utter blasphemy Ed! And you would’ve stolen the ramen from me if not for the fact that your side of the table was already filled with food.
E: Our server was nice enough to provide bowls so we could have separated the Ramen dish. It looked like it was built for two, but honestly, the rectangular shape was deceptive. This establishment is a pleasant surprise that graces Granville St. It has been here for about 5 years, and a different Japanese diner occupied the space before. I’m surprised I haven’t noticed it before in all my sojourns to this particular block (especially when Golden Age Collectables is located on the opposite side of the street). All it took was a craving for something good to eat on a late night to finally enter.
In future trips, visiting Golden Age and ShuRaku are going to be a tradition. That’s because we say it so.
5 Blokes out of 5