Japanese restaurants in Vancouver that offer more than sushi

There is no doubt that Vancouver is blessed with many awesome sushi restaurants; I've even heard comments that we have the best sushi outside of Japan. But we can't forget that Japanese food is much more than maki and nigiri. Here are a few of my favourite places for authentic Japanese cuisine that goes beyond sushi.

Hi Genki

6680 Southoakes Cr, New Westminster, BC

This hidden gem in Burnaby is literally hidden inside a senior home. While it's a convenient spot for visitors to take the residents "out" for a meal, it's also open to the public for lunch and dinner. I have visited many times and it never disappoints thanks to the decent portions and great value for your money. My favourite dishes are spicy karaage donburi, beef kalbi donburi, salmon bone (yes, salmon bone!) and salmon sashimi.

Suika Japanese Restaurant

1626 Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6J 1X6

While most people are more aware of its sister restaurant, Kingyo, I have fallen in love with Suika. It has lots of energy, unique decor (check out the light fixtures made out of Japanese liquor bottles!), an interesting cocktail menu, and of course, an exciting food menu. I love the corn kakiage, beef short rib and the spicy hellz chicken. If you are an adventurous eater, order the tonsoku, a crispy pork foot sautéed in soy butter.

Pepper Lunch Co

150-5951 No. 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2E3

Pepper Lunch is a DIY quick-service concept restaurant and the menu is relatively straightforward. The menu features a number of different dishes of meat with rice (or just meat) that are served to your table on a hot sizzling pan so you can cook the meat to your heart’s content. Great for a quick meal – and don’t forget the honey brown sauce!

Zakkushi On Denman

823 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L7

Zakkushi is a great place to hang out with friends over a few drinks while nomming on yakitori. The menu here is massive and features a wide variety of charcoal-grilled meat, seafood and vegetable skewers. You could easily get carried away and go through a few too many meaty sticks, so just watch for the skewer count in the cool collector.

Guu With Garlic

1698 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1C7

Guu Garlic was the very first izakaya I visited in Vancouver. Guu has a few locations but the Robson Street outpost offers the best experience in my opinion. Expect screaming servers, the exchange of Japanese throughout the room and the long list of small plates that are best enjoyed sharing style. It stays true to its name, which means you’ll likely walk away with a garlicky breath (something to note if you’re heading here on a date).


958 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2W1

Torafuku is the newly opened bricks-and-mortar location for the Le Tigre food truck team. The flavours are really good, and plates are beautifully presented. And I love the cheeky, fun names that they’ve created for the dishes. How about some Rye So Messy Chicken Wings, Kickass Rice 2.0, and “Calamari” Done The Right Way?

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

201-950 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K7

Gyu-Kaku serves an a-la-carte BBQ menu with a personal grill at every table and a wide variety of meat and veggie dishes to choose from. They even offer grilled desserts such as fish-shaped taiyaki pancakes and s’mores. The dishes are affordable, with most of the items priced under $9.95. I would suggest spending a few bucks more on the premium cuts of meat.

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