Vancouver’s best izakayas for Japanese food and drinks

Izakayas first arrived in Vancouver in the early 90s and the lively Japanese-style pubs have been a staple in the city ever since. Some joints stick to tradition, while local chains such as Guu and Hapa Izakaya serve up dishes influenced by the West Coast culinary scene. These Vancouver izakayas will have you shouting “ Mou Hitotsu!” (one more!) thanks to their crowd-pleasing food and drinks. [Photo credit: everydayAnalog]

Guu Garden

1
M101-888 Nelson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H1

Guu is a Vancouver-based chain (now with a location in Toronto) that pioneered the izakaya trend in the city. Each location has a unique menu, but all of the neighbourhood outposts offer friendly service and amazing, crowd-pleasing Japanese fusion dishes. From Guu Garden’s open-air patio, diners can look out onto downtown Vancouver while munching on snacks like miso calamari, tuna tataki and steamed sushi with eel. The drinks menu features cold beers, frozen slushee drinks, traditional plum wine, sake sippers, and signature cocktails infused with Japanese ingredients such as lychee, yuzu syrup and matcha green tea.

Kingyo Izakaya

2
871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L9

This West End go-to izakaya sports a more refined, classically Japanese look, but the feel is still lively and fun. Expect beautiful presentation and a regularly evolving menu of Japanese tapas dishes. The stone-grilled kobe beef is a standout; it’s a do-it-yourself dish – just add the beef to the hot stone and sear to your desired taste.

Suika Japanese Restaurant

3
1626 Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6J 1X6

Suika is Kingyo’s sister restaurant. Visit during lunch hour to enjoy a yummy bento box – the generous portions will keep you full for hours. At night, the room gets slightly rowdy as the Sapporo starts flowing. The menu boasts an extensive selection of small snacks to start, plus creative rice and noodle options to satisfy your snack cravings into the long nights.

Zakkushi On Denman

4
823 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L7

Zakkushi specializes in grilled meat skewers that are a type of Japanese street food known as kushiyaki. You can order by the skewer and try a variety of different savoury options – and you’ll want to try many! There’s everything from beef tongue to chicken liver to rice balls with cheese. Round out your meal with sushi, sashimi and other Japanese tapas dishes all washed down with a glass of sho chu (Japanese vodka) or ume shu (plum wine).

Black Rice Izakaya

5
782 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2P2

Black Rice offers an elegant downtown dining experience near Vancouver’s many theatres, concert halls and stadiums. The restaurant’s name comes from its signature dish: the black rice sukiyaki, which combines rib eye beef, assorted mushrooms and vegetables in a sweet, soy broth. This is true Japanese comfort food served in a refined, low-lit dining room. The menu also features a wide range of sushi and sashimi options, and classic snacks like agedashi tofu, chicken karaage and ebi mayo.

Q-Shi-Q Japanese Barbeque Co

6
159 4th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1G4

Tucked away just west of Olympic Village, Q Shi Q feels like a clubhouse for Japanese hipsters (and it has a seriously great Happy Hour — $2 beers, anyone?). The yakatori selections include savoury skewers of meat and Ocean Wise seafood as well as other small plates and veggie options to balance the proteins. At the end of your meal, duke it out with a friend in a round of Street Fighter on the big screen.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why it’s key to know where to find toast, bacon and eggs just the way you like them, seven days a week. From diners to dives to fine dining, Vancouver has plenty of weekday breakfast spots where you can start your morning with a satisfied belly. [Photo courtesy of Cafe Medina]
Things can get chilly above the 49th parallel. Thankfully, Vancouver’s restaurants and bars are heating up with flavourful cocktails inspired by South American tradition: think Cuba libres, pisco sours, caipirinhas and classic margaritas. Here are a few local venues that serve up drinks with Latin liquors and tasty food from below the equator. [Photo courtesy of Cuchillo]
Life is sweet when you’re having a sundae. After all, why have just plain old ice cream when you can top it with sauces, whipped cream and sprinkles? A sundae says you’re going all out in the fun department – and that’s just something you’ve gotta do once in awhile. Try these Vancouver hot spots for cool treats. [Photo credit: iStock.com/Robert Ingelhart]
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