Bistro Sakana in Yaletown used to be on of Jenkins and my go-to places for Japanese food in downtown. For whatever reason, we hadn’t been for many years though so we decided to check it out one day when we were in the mood for Japanese food but didn’t want to wander too far from home. Luckily for us, this was before the weather turned super cold so we were able to sit outside rather comfortably.
We started first with the soba salad. Many items on the menu didn’t have a full description so we originally thought this would be mainly noodle with some veggies thrown in but it turned out to be quite the opposite. The soba salad was actually mostly mixed greens with a few bundles of soba and mixed with a ginger soy dressing. The dressing was pretty tasty but we both found this salad a bit bland.
We also ordered some tuna sashimi, which came marinated with the same ginger soy dressing from our soba salad. The dressing actually went better with the meaty tuna and this dish had a nice freshness to it.
I’m a huge fan of the aburi sushi at Miku so when I saw that Sakana had aburi salmon available, I decided to order it. It was very similar to Miku’s version in that the wild salmon was sandwiched between two layers of sushi rice and topped with some more salmon, mayo, onion shavings, and a slice of jalapeno. Taste-wise, it was close to Miku’s version but I liked how I could taste the charcoal smokiness used to torch the top of Miku’s aburi sushi more. If I wasn’t comparing with Miku’s version though, I would say that the version at Sakana was a good attempt.
Jenkins and I also ordered a variety of sushi and nigiri. The salmon and tuna nigiri was quite fresh and I would say better than average. The same also went for the negitoro roll. I can’t remember the name of the roll at the bottom but it was almost like Sakana’s version of a house roll, with tuna, salmon, and avocado. I liked the meaty freshness of this roll and the light drizzling of sweet soy went pretty well with the ingredients in the roll itself.
By this time, Jenkins and I were still a little hungry so we decided to splurge for dessert as well. The deep fried banana was Sakana’s version of Jenkins’ Malaysian favourite. The lightly tempura battered bananas were sweet and creamy, going quite well with the big scoop of vanilla ice cream right in the middle. The caramel was not overly sweet, which I liked since it didn’t overpower the ice cream and bananas but I felt that the chocolate flakes seemed a bit dry and weren’t very necessary.
Overall, Jenkins and I had a nice time at Bistro Sakana but nothing particularly stood out to us. I don’t know if my preferences have changed or if Sakana has changed but it doesn’t seem to be as good as my last visit there a couple of years ago. That being said, the ingredients used are all still quite fresh and that is also reflected in the price. As far as dining options go, Sakana isn’t bad if you are looking for Japanese food in Yaletown but it’s also not the best.
1120 Hamilton Street, Vancouver