Best Upscale Japanese 2012


Silver: Zest  |  Bronze:  Miku Restaurant  |  Honourable Mentions: Octopus’ Garden & EN Japanese Restaurant

The long-held reign of Tojo’s (Gold), “always extravagantly good,” was threatened by Zest (Silver), where you’ll find “sophisticated, subtle Japanese food with the best ingredients from local farmers and fishermen” as well as off-duty chefs at a neighbouring table. “The room is contemporary and cerebral yet serene; the food, from well-travelled Yoshiaki Maniwa, one of the great chefs from pioneering Shijo, perfectly balances texture and flavour in a way that’s entirely in keeping with what’s happening in Japan.” Gracious, knowledgeable service and an exciting, often local, wine list. “The $60 menu is a bargain, but the soba crab roll and the gyoza are also must-tries.” Miku (Bronze) is “packed at lunch to the point where you can’t hear yourself think, let alone hear what your tablemate has to say. But it always offers great fun and accomplished food. Dinner is quieter—and the patio is one of downtown’s summer secrets, especially during spot prawn season when they do the best deep-fried heads. The aburi (slightly scorched) sockeye oshi roll is first-rate, and the chicken aburi with garlic and cabbage is downright addictive.” Honourable Mentions to the “oddball and idiosyncractic” Octopus’ Garden which has an “unrelenting focus on quality and execution,” and En, where “Yami-san, like Tojo, is a veteran of Vancouver’s Japanese restaurant scene, and interprets his food through an Italian lens. Try the miso soup (the best in the city), the avocado salad, and the calamari rice bridge.”