We’ve long considered Italian as the perennially most competitive category in our Restaurant Awards, but in the past few years Japanese has expanded from years of Tojo’s domination to become one of the most dynamic and exciting areas in all of Vancouver dining. Yes, and in Burnaby too.

Here's how our Vanmag Restaurant Awards Judges scored it the last go around.

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1. Stem Japanese Eatery

Stem may be tucked away on a nondescript street near Metrotown, but looks can be deceiving. Inside exists the most accomplished one-two combination since Hall met Oates. Chefs Yoshi Maniwa and Tatsuya Katagiri keep the atmosphere light at the small room, but the cooking, the wine and the sake service are the absolute best in the business. 5205 Rumble St., Burnaby

READ MORE: STEM WINS BEST NEW RESTAURANT

aa2. Yuwa

A more hushed mood pervades at Yuwa, coincidentally where the Stem team got their start. The south-Kitsilano room is all luxury and class, with a category-leading wine list (courtesy of mother-daughter combo Iori and Miho Kataoka) and an elegant approach to cooking from chef Masahiro Omari, with a deft touch used on dishes like kanpachi carpaccio. 2775 W 16th Ave

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3. Masayoshi

The omakase-only ode to chasing sushi perfection on Fraser Street that is as compelling as the ballet for the lucky diners. Everything here is about precision and perfection. And when they briefly offered takeout during Covid, they won that award in the 32* Restaurant Awards too. 4376 Fraser St.

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4. Tetsu Sushi Bar

Another place where focus trumps everything else (like warm hospitality some might say). This is where you go when you want a nigiri experience, with a menu changing with whatever is fresh and them expertly prepared by Chef Satoshi-san. 775 Denman St

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5. Dosanko

This is the warm hug of the group, with a cozy room and a menu that balances classics like Tuna Tataki with amazing comfort dishes like the legendary Omu-Rice with the most perfectly cooked Japanese omelette in the city. 566 Powell St.