Sushi Stars: Octopus’ Garden & Kibune

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Now that the Canucks are officially out of the NHL Playoffs, we’ve got something in common with Toronto. One thing we don’t have in common according to the Toronto Star’s Richard Ouzounian is sushi. He singles out Vancouver as the place to be for asian dining and call’s Vancity’s sushi bars unmatched anywhere in North America.

Ouzounian’s half-dozen favorites includes two classic Kitsilano sushi houses that are seperated by only a couple blocks – Octopus’ Garden and Kibune.

Tojo’s – For 20 years, this has been considered one of the city’s finest Japanese restaurants. The quality is high and the choices are varied. More is served here than just sushi, but it’s in the realm of raw fish that Hidekazu Tojo and his staff excel. For a real treat, sit at the Omakase (“Trust Me”) Bar and put yourself into the staff’s hands for a unique experience.

Kibune Sushi -Just a few steps away from Kitsilano Beach, this intimate place has been a favourite of mine since it opened in 1982. The service is friendly and the place always seems full of regulars who are pleased to accept suggestions as to what’s freshest that particular day. If they have soft-shell crab on the menu, grab it. It’s not officially served sushi-style, but it’s fried so lightly and delicately it might as well be raw.

Honjin Sushi – This bustling place in the heart of the city’s Yaletown district has a vibe not unlike your local pub. But instead of chicken wings and burgers, they turn out superb sushi, including a series of multi-layered all-fish creations like their Sunshine Roll and Yaletown Roll, both real winners.

Toshi’s – Despite its location in a slightly funkier part of town, there’s always a line outside patiently waiting to sample the delights of this small but choice eatery, including a very special house roll with avocado on the outside and a grilled salmon skin roll that seems to be the very gustatory essence of life in British Columbia.

Yoshi Japanese Restaurant – One of the city’s most elegant Japanese dining spots, the view of Stanley Park gives Yoshi a certain upscale, dramatic flair. But, in addition to a widely-ranging menu, it also features the classic “Kaiseki” dinner, with nine carefully thought-out courses that reflect the geography, time of year, and bounty of the seas. Yes, there is life beyond the California Roll!

Octopus’ Garden – Once upon a time, Kitsilano was Ground Zero for the hippie life in Vancouver. Its property values have largely changed that, but some of the old ideology still lives on, especially in restaurants like this, where a fine hand with seafood is combined with a gift for period humour, such as in the establishment’s name or its mango/yellowfin roll, known, of course, as “The Yellow Submarine.”

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Last modified: June 9, 2008

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