Eat The City: Denman and Robson

October 1, 2010

ToratatsuToratatsu Japanese Tapas Bistro

735 Denman St., 604-685-9399. Toratatsutapas.com

An upscale izakaya owned by the Tokyo family that introduced these
Japanese beer parlours to Vancouver. The jazzy, shabby-chic décor,
closed kitchen, thoughtful wine selection, and French-inflected fusion menu attract mainly a sophisticated clientele.

Most ordered
Ebi chili mayo.

Chef’s pick
Sashimi platter.

My favourite
Kara-age jyan, because these juicy, crispy-crusted chicken thighs are served with a spiced ponzu sauce and pair splendidly with Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris.

 

Le Bistro de ParisLe Bistro de Paris

751 Denman St., 604-687-1418. Lebistrodeparis.com

Once a Vancouver legend, this extremely affordable, lace-curtained, tourist-friendly bistro is doing an excellent job of restoring its local reputation after a precipitous slide and the mysterious (still unsolved) disappearance of its former owner.

Most ordered
Steak frites.

Chef’s pick
Pâté de campagne.

My favourite
Moules Provençales, because the Salt Spring Island mussels are fat, fleshy, and impeccably fresh, the Provençal broth sings bright notes of tarragon, and the frites are crisply perfect.
 

Kintaro RamenKintaro Ramen

788 Denman St., 604-682-7568

This grungy hole-in-the-wall with gruff service and long lineups is less polished than organic sister restaurant Motomachi Shokudo, one block north. But it was the first purveyor of Tokyo-style pork ramen in this noodle-centric ’hood and is still the best.

Most ordered
Spicy garlic ramen.

Chef’s pick
Miso ramen.

My favourite
The unctuous shoyu ramen with a rich broth and fatty chashu—because lard makes everything taste better.

 

 NookNook

781 Denman St., 604-568-4554. Nookrestaurant.ca

A bustling, unpretentious cranny of a wine bar appointed in glossy teak and black-and-white tile with nary a Tuscan sunflower to be found. Rustic antipasti, chewy pizza, and traditional pasta are fired up with premium ingredients.
 
Most ordered
Gioia burrata (when it’s available).

Chef’s pick
Prosciutto pizza.

My favourite
Orecchiette with Italian sausage, fennel, rapini, and chilies—the delicious simplicity of these classic bitter-hot flavours is woefully underappreciated.
 

Zakkushi Charcoal GrillZakkushi Charcoal Grill

823 Denman St., 604-685-1136. Zakkushi.com

Japanese food isn’t all about sushi. This smoky, boisterous late-night yakitori specializes in skewers of meat, seafood, and vegetables grilled over red-hot coals. On the recently expanded menu you’ll also find grilled saury, pan-fried pork intestines, and various old-school izakaya classics.

Most ordered
The yakitori skewers (there are more than 50 kinds).

Chef’s pick
Yaki unagi (eel) and mentalmayo (spicy cod roe).

My Favourite
Okonomiyaki. These cabbage-stuffed pancakes are under­represented in Vancouver.

 

 

Jang Mo Jib Korean

1719 Robson St., 604-687-0712. Jangmojib.ca

This chaotic Korean spot comprises several small steam-wilted rooms popular with families of all Asian stripes in the early evening. Later, pop tunes get cranked and soju cocktails flow as the ESL crowd pours in.

Most ordered
Gam ja tang (pork back and neck bone hot pot).

Chef’s pick
Tohng gahl bee (charcoal-grilled AAA beef short ribs).

My favourite
I’m with Chef, even though it’s relatively expensive ($24.95). This alchemic Korean BBQ sauce sweetened with pear purée unlocks ravenous instincts when charred into incredibly tender slabs of gamey beef-on-bone.

Planning a visit to one of these restaurants? Click on this map to get a better idea of their locations:

 

We're scoured a variety of neighborhoods for the best restaurants. Check them out here:

W. 1st and Cypress

Hamilton and Helmcken

Granville and Broadway

Keefer and Main

Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.