Apparently Zipang is a favourite cartoon (manga) that was made into a 26-episode anime series in Japan. I thought it must mean something else but that's all the Google had to offer. Anyhoo, Zipang has been mentioned favourably on this board, and I’d been resisting going for a silly sentimental reason: it is housed in the space that used to be our favourite pho restaurant. I finally got over it and made a reservation to go with the parentals, when I clued in that they serve takoyaki.
I’ve been remiss in posting about it (see this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597134) but since I got some decent photos I’m hoping I’ll be forgiven :-). I can also report most positively on this excellent little local. It’s a good thing we don’t live closer or I’d be here twice weekly.
The sushi is fresh, innovative and beautifully presented, complete with veggie sculptures and daikon-sheet-enrobed tealights. I managed to lose my notes so I can’t ID the exact rolls we ordered but the daikon covered one had smoked salmon and the other’s sesame seed coating should be a dead giveaway if you want to try them. The local tuna sashimi was delicious and the portions were generous without being slabs. The tako sunomono was pronounced very fine (I don’t do raw tako) and we all agreed that the seaweed salad was the best we’d had, despite the slightly odd addition of grated carrots on top. Dad found the uni not wanting either.
Then it was on to the cooked stuff – tempura that was very light and screaming hot, spicy deep fried tofu that even the non-tofu lovers approved and okonomiyaki (we got the noodle one but there are a few options including one that contains a rather amusing typo) which was different from all the others I’ve tried but very satisfying. The only item that disappointed in the entire meal was the gyoza which were uninspiring and as you can see overcooked.
So a great meal all around… wait, you say, what about the takoyaki? Okay, enough teasing – I’m no expert but these little round balls of comfort were everything I’d expect them to be. Nicely browned and crispy on the outside, a bit “sad” (in a good way) toward the centre, with an octo-bomb in the very middle. But even better for me anyway was the ebi yaki. I could easily go and just have an order of those with a sparkling sake and be very happy.
Did I mention they carry Gekkeikan’s Zipang sparkling sake? Kind of a splurge (I think it was $17 for a small bottle) but tasty and fun to try. Makes me even more determined to try the bubbly stuff from Osake if he is making it now. And finally, though we were all pretty much stuffed, we had to try the black sesame ice cream. We had one order between the four of us which was enough as it is very rich and sesame-ey. Definitely worth a try but do beware as the blackness transfers at least temporarily to your teeth.
In case you missed it, this is pretty much a rave for a near-budget sushi place that you could return to repeatedly and not get bored at. The décor though relatively utilitarian has enough funky touches to be interesting and the service was attentive, efficient and very gracious. Do get reservations if you can as there was a continuous lineup when we were there and the space is quite small. FYI they seem to have changed the chairs to less hairy, more comfortable ones, though the most desirable spots are still the booths.
Here are some pix of the tempura, the sake, the sashimi and the uni gunkan
3710 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V3N7, CA