Where did I eat?
VanVan Izakaya at 1333 Robson Street in Vancouver.
What do they specialize in?
Japanese izakaya style small dishes.
What was the vibe?
Cozy, dark, traditional Japanese decor.
What did I order?
Ebi Mayo – battered tiger prawns with chili mayo
- Ebi mayo is one of the dishes they I always order to judge an izakaya and I enjoyed VanVan’s version.
- The prawns were lightly battered and not greasy at all.
Ika Maruyaki – grilled whole squid with teriyaki sauce and mayo
- I’m not the biggest fan of grilled squid because the texture is too rubbery for me and I find it lacking in flavour, however, this version was quite good.
- I liked that the teriyaki sauce gave it some flavour and honestly anything dipped in mayo is going to taste delicious.
Russian Roulette Takoyaki – one of the five balls is filled with wasabi instead of octopus
- The takoyaki here was good and covered with bonito flakes and lots of mayo
- Having one mystery ball filled with wasabi added a fun and interactive element to the dish
- I liked the crispy thinly coated batter on the chicken, however I found the cutlet to be on the dry side
- The sweet and sour sauce was more sweet than anything, but I liked it in combination with the tartar sauce.
Sashimi – salmon, tuna, and scallop
- All of the pieces of sashimi I had tasted fresh and good
- Unfortunately someone else at the table found something hard in the middle of her scallop, which was a bit of a turn off.
- The eggplant itself was warm and pull apart with your fork tender
- The ponzu sauce I found to be too sweet and needing more tang to it to balance it out
- I surprisingly really liked the Italian style one. It was like a more quirky version of eggplant parmesan.
- The beef tataki had the perfect light sear.
- This dish is a standard at izakayas and VanVan pulled it off well.
Yaba Flower – deep fried cauliflower with matcha salt and tartar sauce
- I really liked this dish because it is something different from a lot of izakayas offer
- The cauliflower was lightly coated in batter and very crispy
- The tartar sauce was a delicious accompaniment and the matcha salt added an interesting salty flavour
- The bbq pork cheek was tender and very rich and fatty
- The citrus sauce helped to brighten up the dish and cut through the fatty flavour
- Having a few pieces of this is the perfect amount, but the fatness of it becomes overwhelming if you eat too much
- The was one of my favourite dishes of the night because it was so light and refreshing
- The salmon was cut up with little pieces of cucumber and you are given sheets up nori to wrap it up
- This is definitely not a traditional Japanese dish, but it was surprisingly tasty
- The fries were standard, but the thick, rich Japanese style curry sauce made it delicious
VanVan offers a change from all of the other chain izakayas in the area and more competitive pricing. Some of the dishes were just okay, but they had a lot of fun and creative menu items that you can’t find elsewhere.
Disclosure: I did not pay for my meal.