- Address: 1133 W Broadway, Vancouver
- Visited: 10/10/2015, Dinner, 4 people
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Rating: 3.5 5.0 Excellent, worth every $
4.5 Good, food & value
4.0 Good, but $$, would re-visit
3.5 Meh, good $, would re-visit
3.0 Meh, would not re-visit
2.0 Did not like $$$$ [$] <20; [$$] <40; [$$$] <80; [$$$$] >80
- Website: http://www.tojos.com/
Over a year later I’m finally writing the last post about my trip to Vancouver from 2015, dinner at Tojo’s, one of Vancouver’s most well-known and acclaimed Japanese restaurants. Besides procrastination, I’ve been delaying this post because I was disappointed in the meal. After eating at a handful of Japanese restaurants since, I grew even more weary of reminiscing on my Vancouver omakase experience. However, I do think part of my disappointment was due to an error in my expectations based on the price.
Atmosphere: Walking into Tojo’s, I was surprised by how big the restaurant was, and quite modern. There were only a few seats at the sushi bar that looked into the kitchen, but there were many tables and booths in the dining area. For Saturday night, many of the tables were full but they weren’t at capacity. I spied Tojo himself a few times at the sushi bar chatting animatedly with the diners seated there.
Service: Service itself was efficient and professional. Our server explained the difference between the omakase options in the menu and explained each plate when it arrived. I also appreciated the complimentary dessert for one of our friends who didn’t decide to order the omakase. One thing that surprised me was how quickly each course arrived, which made me question how special the omakase was. It felt like the kitchen was already prepared before our orders were even placed. The only course that took some time was the sushi one, which our server came by to apologize for the wait as orders at the sushi bar were being prioritized.
Food: Omakase is available to be ordered at any seat inside the large restaurant, but is priced slightly higher at the sushi bar ($150. For myself, I ordered the 6 course omakase ($120) and The Hubs chose the 5 course omakase ($80), we shared the plates of each set. Between the two, the 6 course set exceeded the 5 course meal with an extra piece of sushi and higher quality ingredients. I didn’t feel any part of the $80 meal was special or unique, which is kind of the expectation for an omakase meal, especially compared to a similarly priced dinner at Yasu.
For the 5 course meal, dinner began with Tojo’s Tuna, a marinated tuna sashimi dish that was fresh and lightly seasoned. Next was a plate of 3 pieces of tempura, tomato, zucchini blossom and okra. All three pieces were lightly battered and not oily. The third course was an octopus salad with a light citrus dressing. I did like the texture of the octopus salad but at this point I was concerned if The Hubs would be full. Also, while good, nothing yet had been amazing. The fourth course was the “main” entree and unfortunately, the one I really didn’t enjoy, cod with zucchini, tomato and a cream cheese. This dish didn’t fit my palate with the cheese. I’ve always avoided ordering Philadelphia rolls, and that will not be changing. The last course was 5 pieces of sushi that included scallop, shrimp and salmon.
The 6 course meal began with a sashimi salad that included tuna, salmon and yellowtail. I liked the quantity and quality of sashimi in this dish. Next was a smoked salmon and Atlantic lobster salad. My third course was wild prawns with a balsamic sauce, which was good but I would’ve loved if the prawns were a touch less cooked. At this point I’ve lost track of one of the courses (dessert may have counted as the 6th) but I believe the next plate served was the smoked sablefish, which was my favourite dish of the night. The bowl arrived still covered and was revealed at the table. The sablefish itself was incredibly firm but tender and flavourful. One of my friends had opted to just order the sablefish entree and I was wildly jealous of his decision. Similar to the 5 course meal, my set menu ended with a plate of 6 assorted rolls and sushi.
Overall, dinner at Tojo’s wasn’t the highlight of the trip I thought it would, but I am glad I visited. A few of the dishes were amazing, like the sablefish, but fewer than I expected. I feel like ordering a la carte would’ve offered a much better experience than the omakase, which defies the definition for me.