Melt-in-your-mouth sashimi

Octopus’ Garden:

Creating a Disneyland-like Restaurant for All Ages and Nationalities

Reviewed By Junko Mayede, Nikkei Life Editor

Photo 2015-03-06, 5 59 42 PM

This month I am reviewing Octopus’ Garden, a restaurant celebrating its 23rd anniversary this September.

On the day I visited with my co-worker, I noticed that despite the restaurant being packed to the gills, owner and chef Sada-san always seemed to be having a great time chatting with the customers, with a cheery smile on his face.

Chef Sada provided us with a unique tasting menu to enjoy! We first tasted a smoked salmon and tomato salad, reveling in the savory aroma of the fish. Next was the restaurant’s specialty, ‘Sada’s Own’ Nomu Uni Shooter – a unique way of tasting fresh sea urchin. Then came 3 kinds of extremely fresh sashimi. This dish was actually presented in a way he thought customers would enjoy it most. The toro (salmon belly) nigiri we tasted just melted in our mouths. He presented it on the counter as if we had suddenly been transported to a kaiten-zushi restaurant (where sushi comes out on a conveyor belt)!

I saw with my own eyes Sada-san’s desire for customers to have a wonderful time, as he paid close attention to his customers and the food he served them. Watching Sada’s care and charisma, I felt so appreciative of my meal. I spoke with Sada-san, and he told me that he originally wanted to be a hairstylist or cook because he has always been good with his hands. At age 18, he had the chance to learn Asian fusion cuisine in Japan and became a chef – a useful experience that he got to learn.

Q  |  Where does your inspiration for the menu come from?

A.  In this multicultural country, I’m not too particular about traditions, thining about what kinds of tastes our customers grew up with at home. I take time to come up with the menu and the way the food is served, as well as make an extra effort to create dishes that are difficult to prepare at home so customers truly enjoy dining at my restaurant.

When I asked what his goal for the future was, Sada-san replied, “First is to maintain my health, and then, with a smile, to spend the rest of my life nurturing a Disneyland-like restaurant full of dreams… Why not?” 

Sada remarks, I’m so glad I have mastered so many techniques! Depending on the customer, I like to change the presentation of the food to try and maximize a customer’s experience.

 Restaurant_Octopus' Garden_Mr. Sada


今回は、今年9月で23年目を迎えるOctopus’ Gardenを是非紹介したい。


私たちは、まず、スモークの香りを存分に楽しめるスモークサーモンとトマトのサラダを戴いた。 続いて、新鮮なウニをユニークにアレンジしたレストラン名物のウニ・シューターや、私たちをイメージして盛り付けて戴いた、とても新鮮な刺身三品盛り!! 次には、口の中でとろけてしまうサーモンのトロのにぎりを、カウンターで特製回転寿司のように出していただくなど、食事を楽しみながら美味しく戴いた。


Q  |   メニューのインスピレーションは、どこから来ていますか?

A.  マルチ・カルチャーであるこの国で、伝統などにこだわりすぎず、来ていただくお客様が、どんな家庭の味で育ってこられたかをイメージし、メニューや料理の出し方など考える事でしょうか。 その上、家でなかなか作れないような食事をこの店で楽しんでいただけるように努力しています!!


そして最後に「色々と学んでおいて、本当に良かったです‼   お客さんによって、同じ料理でも器を変えたり、料理の出しかたを変えたりもしますよ。」と語っていただいたことをしっかり体験させていただいた夜を過ごした。

Octopus’ Garden
1995Cornwall Ave • Vancouver, BC  |   (604)734-8971  |

Kyzock (海賊):

Take out has never tasted so good!

Kyzock - ExteriorReviewed By Junko Mayede
Nikkei Life Editor

This month, I am reviewing a restaurant near SFU’s downtown campus called Kyzock. While a good majority of the orders are take-out, there is space for around ten people to sit and enjoy drinks and food.

This shop actually first opened as Zero One Sushi in 2001. However, to transform the sushi shop’s image, the name changed to Kyzock and the restaurant’s menu got a makeover. The food is centered on donburi (rice bowl) items and offers various sushi donburi.

Me and my co-worker ordered the Chirashi bowl, the special of the day, and the chicken udon. The chirashi was a gorgeous bowl filled with, among other things, salmon roe, sea urchins and scallops. We enjoyed every last morsel of fresh seafood. As for the chicken udon, the soup base was both tasty and full of flavour. My co-worker even said, “Of all of the udon I have eaten in my life, this is my favourite!”

During our visit, I got the opportunity to speak with Kazu, the owner and chef:

Q | What kind of personality do you bring to your restaurant?
A. I think I’m positive and have a strong competitive spirit. I’m also the type of person who turns their decisions into action. From the outside looking in, sometimes people see what I do as failures. But from my point of view, these failures are the fuel that creates a bridge for me to grow to the next level.

“I try to keep in mind that people are eating high-quality food in a casual atmosphere and at a reasonable price. To bring out the quality of the food, I am careful about timing -picking the right time to prepare and serve the freshest, most flavourful ingredients,”
— Kazu, owner and chef

His friendly, smiling face is inspiring. Despite all of the challenges he has faced, he enthusiastically says, “Kyzock is a place that lets me improve and develop myself.”



今回紹介するレストランは、SFUダウンタウンキャンパスのすぐ近くにある、海賊(かいぞく)。 お持ち帰りが主流だが、店内で飲食できるスペースも10席ほど設けている。

実はこのお店は、2001年にZero One Sushiとしてオープン。しかし、



Q  |  ご自身をどんな性格だと思われますか?
A. 前向きで、自分に対して負けん気が強いですね。あと、決めたことは行動に移すタイプ。周りからみれば、失敗と見られることも経験しましたが、自分の中では、次につなげるための、成長の糧だと思ってます。


559 W Pender St. • Vancouver, BC  |   604 605-1625  |

Cake-Ya: ふわふわっ、しっとり!ロールケ

roll-cakeFor this issue I decided to try something a bit different: paying a visit to a cake shop. I had only seen (and drooled over) their desserts nicely displayed at Nikkei Place events, and had been dying to actually try them. Nestled in a quaint neighbourhood in Port Moody, Cake-ya has enjoyed high ratings by restaurant review sites since its opening five years ago. I dropped by two hours before closing, and to my horror their shelves were all but empty. Where are my roll cakes!? Seeing me utterly devastated, they kindly offered to make one on the spot.

Cake-ya’s roll cakes, to put it simply, are wonderfully fluffy, yet moist. Flavourful but not too sweet, they are the perfect embodiment of a Japanese roll cake. My favourite is their matcha roll cake, which features sponge cake gently imbued with matcha flavour and mildly sweetened red beans. Savour a mouthful of sponge cake, whipped cream, and red beans, and you will enjoy an exquisitely balanced matcha roll cake!

A labour of love 

Later I chatted casually with Saori, Cake-ya’s owner. Saori has always loved baking, making desserts like custard puddings for her friends all the time. She began receiving so many requests that one day she decided to open up a shop. Through trial and error, her menu gradually expanded. Her family was always the first to try her experimental desserts, but, she laughs, “I think my family has had their fill of my desserts.” Even so, her son still helps out with deliveries.

Q: What was the hardest thing about running your shop in the last five years?

A. My customers come from not just Japan but all sorts of backgrounds, so their preferences are wildly different. Their expectations are just not the same. I want to satisfy all my customers, but is it realistic to try to please every one of them? It’s a big dilemma.

Saori uses the same oven every day, in the same manner. But on some days it works better than others for no apparent reason. Failure happens on a daily basis. But Saori’s greatest joy comes from making her friends happy, and is motivated by her desire to expand her fan base.

My last question to Saori: “What’s your dream?” “One day I’d love to have my own stand at the Richmond Night Market,” she answers. “But I’m already happy with how things are right now.”

I invite you to go and try Cake-ya’s desserts. They are a reflection of not only Saori’s skills, but also her gentle, sweet personality.


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Izakaya Suika: a restaurant committed to creating new cultures


My friends and colleagues had been telling me all about Izakaya Suika, which was nominated for Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Award in the “Casual Japanese” category in 2014. I checked out their website just to see what the fuss was about, only to be dazzled by the images of their mouth-watering dishes. Soon I ventured over to Suika for lunch with my colleague.

The first thing I noticed was its striking interior and unique ambience. Aside from its décor, Suika’s fun-loving spirit was clearly manifested in their dishes. Tempted by the attractive presentations on the menu, we ended up ordering one too many.

First came the Hamburg Set, one of Suika’s popular lunch items. As soon as I cut into the steak with my chopsticks, the juice came pouring out. Its texture was tender, its flavour deep but not too rich. Another plate on the table was oxtail Miso Ramen, with its creamy broth matching perfectly with its noodles. Their Lotus Roots Kimpira was pleasantly crunchy with a hint of sansho aroma. The aburi (seared) Hamachi Carpaccio was so delicate that it literally melted in my mouth, while filling the air with its savory fragrance.

You might think that’s more than plenty for lunch between two people, but there is always room for dessert—not just one but two. We ordered Matcha Crème Brulee and Yukimi Daifuku ice cream with two flavours—and boy, were they yummy! The crème brulee was divine with its creamy and velvety texture. The richness of the Yukimi Daifuku green tea ice cream was contrasted nicely with the subtle and delicate red beans that left a lasting flavour.

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Restaurant – Kaide Sushi

Tom-the-owner-of-KaideIf you want fresh, quality sushi, I would recommend this restaurant!

Recently, I have been wanting to eat sushi very much.  A friend recommended Kaide, a highly-rated sushi restaurant located near the corner of Richards and Pacific Street in Yaletown.  I decided to try out them with my co-worker.

The atmosphere is very cozy and the owner, Tom is very nice.  This is the perfect place for having sushi during the work day or for a casual lunch/dinner with your friends.  To be honest, at first glance I thought the sushi was a bit pricey for lunch, but after tasting it I found it is definitely worth it.

Much of the sushi on their menu is an original creation.  We ordered Marinated Tuna (Tuna with sweet soy & ground sesame), Big Bang (made up of tuna, sliced lemon, avocado and crunch) , Maple (made of sweet BBQ tuna, avocado and chives), and Dynamite (Kaide style – they don’t use shrimp tempura, they use boiled/steamed shrimp and panko flakes for crunchiness instead).  As well, we wanted to enjoy the simple, pure taste of fish, so we ordered a salmon roll too.

My favourites were the Salmon roll and Big Bang.  The Salmon roll was really fresh and there is a nice portion of salmon in each piece.  The Big Bang was refreshing – sliced lemon goes well with Tuna!   The chef/owner, Tom, recommended us to try them without soy sauce. That way, we could enjoy a pure fish taste – he was right!

Overall, the sushi is not overloaded with rice unlike many other sushi restaurants – actually, that’s the way sushi should be. There is a nice balance of flavours and not a heavy, “full” feeling after eating.

We sat at the sushi counter and enjoyed a conversation with Tom, who gave some background on himself and the restaurant.

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Miura Waffle Milk Bar

Friendly atmosphere, detail-oriented service and excellent food

One day, my co-worker told me that he tried the Miura Waffle Sandos.

“Waffle sandos?”… never heard of it! I thought it was some kind of dessert.  “You should try them!” he strongly suggested, so I checked out their website.  The sandwiches look different and very delicious.  I decided to visit them with my co-workers.

Miura Waffle Milk Bar opened in May 2010 and it specializes in a mixture of savory and sweet waffle sandwiches, also with combos including nori chips. The other reason to go there is for their milk drinks. It is perfect place for a casual lunch with friends or co-workers.  The atmosphere is light, and the décor is a mix between modern and traditional Japanese, with wooden yatai-style posts and clean-cut style table areas.

The garlic Fried Chicken Waffle has good overall flavour – the chicken was juicy and savoury, and the sauce provided a touch of sweetness. Also, the crunchy texture from the fried chicken balanced nicely with the softness of the waffle.  We thought the waffle they use is the perfect texture for a sandwich – not too dense, with a light flavour.   The mango passion fruit drink was refreshing, creamy, and not too sweet.  Easy to drink the whole glass!

The owners, Dennis & Jenny Miura were absent that day, but I had an opportunity to hear from Jenny later.

NPF:  What was the inspiration for your waffle sandos?

JM:  My business partner (and husband), Dennis, loves sandwiches and I love breakfast items like waffles and pancakes.  We decided to combine our favourites together and created the waffle sandos.

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Jules Café

For the past year our staff have been enjoying lunch at a special café close to Nikkei Place. If you haven’t yet visited Jules Café it is well worth the visit. I had a chance to sit down with Julia Tanaka today and ask her about her café.

Hi, Julia – Can you tell me where your family is from?
I was born and raised in Vancouver. My parents were also born in Vancouver but grew up in Japan during the war.  They moved back to Canada in the 1950s.

How long have you spent in the food industry?
I have spent more than twenty years working in the food service industry in health care and senior living homes before opening the café.

Why did you leave the health care industry?
Opening and owning my own café has always been a dream that I wanted to achieve before retirement.  In 2012, the dream came true.

Can you tell us about your restaurant concept?
The menu concept was to provide affordable meals which were made fresh and to order with a semi-self service environment in an open kitchen concept.

I notice you have a lot of Japanese immigrant people employed here. In fact, your place kind of reminds me of Nikkei Place. Why is that?
Chef Kaz (Kazuki) has been helpful in filling some of the jobs for café by advertising on the JP Canada website. It has added an exciting and interesting interaction of cultures with someone like myself who is a third generation Japanese Canadian and some of the staff who are recent immigrants from Japan.  The diversity of cultures has been quite a positive learning experience for us all.

With your prices so affordable, how can you have so many staff on hand?
People have mentioned that we seem to have a lot of staff, but I have been very fortunate that many of my good friends and family volunteer their time to help out at the café whenever needed.  I’ve always said that it doesn’t feel like work when you really enjoy the people you’re with and doing what enjoy doing.

Is there anything you would like to add?
We hope to continue with our personal growth and provide continued service to our customers and local community.

Located at Royal Oak and Rumble, Jules Café gives you are real diner experience with prices that are from the 1980s. The food is great, the prices are low and they really make you feel at home here.

Jules Café
5205 Rumble Street, Burnaby, BC V5J 2B7
Tel: 604.430.0340. email:


旧年中、私たちスタッフは日系プレースのすぐ近くにある、ちょっといいカフェでランチを楽しみました。その名はJules Café。もしまだ行ったことがなければ、ぜひお試しください。今回はジュリア・タナカさんを訪ねて、カフェのお話を伺いました。































Stir Fried Seaweed (hijiki)

I love this dish but could never find the recipe to taste like mom used to make. I was incapacitated with my broken ankle and had two delightful Japanese caregivers who cooked for me for 6 weeks and made this for me. I watched how she made it but not in measurements so I finally hunted down the recipe and here it is. It’s a savoury side dish, and full of protein, calcium, vitamin A and traces of minerals and can stay in the fridge for a long time.

1 cup Hijiki (dried bulk seaweed) available at your local Japanese food store.
2 pieces aburage (deep fried soy bean curd)
1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup dashi
1/4 cup shoyu
2 tablespoons sugar

Soak hikiji in water for 30 minutes, rinse carefully to remove sand.
Drain well.
Pour hot water over aburage to remove excess oil.
Drain well and cut in half lengthwise and then cut in half crosswise into thin julienne strips.
Heat oil in wok or skillet over high heat and add hikiji.
Stir fry over high heat until most of the moisture has evaporated.
Add aburage and mix in well.
Mix together dashi (you may use instant dashi) shoyu and sugar.
Add hikiji and cook over medium heat until liquid is absorbed.
This dish makes 8 servings and can be served hot or cold.


Sake Poached Halibut

One of two recipes sent to me from Alice Bradley:

1 pound halibut, cut in 4 pieces
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup clam juice (from can is OK)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 green onions, sliced

Mix the sake, clam juice, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil in a wide pot and let simmer about 5 minutes.

Add the halibut pieces and green onions and simmer gently over low heat for about 3-4 minutes, turn and simmer until the halibut is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, or more depending on the thickness of the fish.
Remove the fish from sauce to a heated plate and cover to keep warm.
Raise the heat on the sauce and boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup.
Pour over the halibut, and sprinkle with a thinly sliced green onion and a 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.

This recipe can also be made using chopped fresh coriander/cilantro instead of green onions.


Prawn Gyoza

We are eating more fish in our diet than meat these days and Alice Bradley has kindly sent me these following two recipes: Prawn Gyoza and Sake Poached Halibut. Simple to make and very good.

5 ounces of chopped, shelled deveined prawns (may be chopped in a food processor, but not too finely)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1-1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons sherry
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
16 gyoza wrappers

Combine the ingredients for the filling and chill for 15 minutes to combine flavours.
Divide the filling among the 16 wrappers.
Moisten the edge and fold as for gyozas.
Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in nonstick skillet until hot.
Arrange the gyozas in the pan and cook over medium heat until nicely browned.
Add 3 tablespoons water to the pan, cover and lower heat and let simmer for about 3-5 minutes until done.

Serve with dipping sauce made of:
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon shichimi powder or 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder