VanVan Izakaya

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

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

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

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

Chicken Van Van

Chicken VanVan – chicken cutlet with sweet and sour and tartar sauce

  • 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.


Yakinasu – grilled eggplant with ponzu sauce and one with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil

  • 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.

Beef Tataki

Beef Tataki – thinly sliced lightly grilled beef with ponzu sauce

  • The beef tataki had the perfect light sear.
  • This dish is a standard at izakayas and VanVan pulled it off well.

Yaba Flower

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

P Toro

P-Toro – bbq pork cheek with Japanese citrus sauce

  • 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

Salmon Yukke

Salmon Yukke – chopped salmon with garlic sauce

  • 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

Curry Fries

Curry Poutine – french fries with curry and cheese

  • 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

Final Thoughts?

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.

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Categories: Downtown, Japanese, Metro Vancouver, Vancouver


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