Coming from New York City, I had heard that Vancouver has some of the best chinese food around. After my trip, I do not disagree. My trip started at Fook Yuen Palace in Richmond for dim sum. Simply put, all around the best dim sum I have ever had. All of the food was incredibly fresh, especially the seafood dumplings. Nothing disappointed. Great flavors, overstuffed dumplings, and a nice dim sum menu with some interesting dishes that I never had in New York. Just fantastic.
We had dinner that night at Sun Sei Wah (sp?) in Vancouver. The crispy sqaub was excellent, so was the dungeoness crab. We also had the whole fish in sweet and sour sauce which was great. Our final dish, steamed tofu with shrimp paste, was disappointing. However, the service was great, as were the three main dishes .
Our last big meal, after a day of kayacking, was TOJO's. I read all the posts about this place, and came away believing that the key to truly loving TOJO's was to reserve seats at the sushi bar and hand it over to TOJO himself for Omakase. Let me begin by saying that my close friend and I have eaten at many great restaurants over the years, whether inexpensive finds or expensive famous restuarants. We believe we know what great food is, and we both finished our meal at TOJO's agreeing that it could have been one of the best meals we have ever eaten. If not the best, we at least put it in our top three. Not three best sushi meals, three best meals PERIOD!!
TOJO's looks like a dentists office. Nothing special, except that you immediately realize that this is the busiest sushi place you have ever been to. You see all the notes from celebrities, but my friend said that it's still sushi, how good could it be. We were seated at the sushi bar with four other people. TOJO himself welcomes you, asks where you're from and if you're allergic to anything or can't eat anything. While there are three other sushi chefs behind the bar, they make the sushi for everybody else while TOJO works with the people at the bar.
The sad part is that I couldn't even begin to remember all the different dishes we ate. The tuna that everyone refers to was the first course, we had sable and mushrooms in parchment paper, his own smoked salmon, japanese raw oysters, incredible hand rolls, salmon skin, etc. It was all incredible. The people who sat down next to us had about 9-10 dishes, we had about 15. You just tell TOJO when you're full. When the people next to us stopped, and our next course was the amazing raw japanese oysters in some type of citrus sauce, they were salavating. The longer we held on, the better TOJO seemed to get. However, one piece of advice. When I was about to say no more, my friend advised me that we had to have one more course and tell TOJO it was our last so he could finish up big. He did. He made us a blue fin tuna toro and scallion sushi. The rice amount was miniscule compared to the amount of tuna he sorrounded it with. It was like four huge raw tuna burgers. SO good. We finished with the mixture of grean tea and coconut ice cream, which was very good and a great combination.
We were some of the last customers in the place when we finished, so TOJO sat down next to us and talked about his food and how he could not serve this type of food in Japan since they are not open to it. He was fun and a great personality. After all was said and done, the bill was approx $115 american dollars per person. Though that's a lot of money, we went in expecting something around that, my friend had a few drinks, and we ate 15 courses. In new york, a tasting menu at the top places would cost us more, and we would have eaten less food. So though expensive, a good deal for what we got.
It would be unfair to call TOJO's a sushi restaurant. It is an incredible culinary experience. The flavors in the dishes were different than any we have ever tasted before at any restuarant. Just amazing combinations of incredible fish and other ingredients. Days after I am still dreaming about our meal and wishing I lived a lot closer.
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