It started off innocently enough: our friends came to pick us up at our hotel (L’Hermitage. Beautiful, comfortable and outstanding service.) The sun was shining and we were walking through Gastown when our friend Brian decided we should stop for a beer, “because it is so beautiful out. We need to take advantage.” I was about to remind him that we were on our way to a winery/brewery, but figured I might as well give in. After all, adjusting from life in Key West to the (not) hectic, (not) hurried life in Vancouver can’t be an easy transition.
You see, our friends spend half their year in Key West and the other half in Vancouver, so they pretty much have
perfect, outdoor beer drinking weather all year long. After visiting Vancouver, I realized just how brilliant their whole situation really is. I will be admiring it even more come August and the 700 degree weather that we will endure. I digress. As we were enjoying the sunshine, we realized we needed a dinner plan. (We had a plan, but it was going to be way too early to dine at the Vancouver Urban Winery, so it was best to just drink there, and go somewhere for dinner later.) Our server suggested Hapa Izakaya, and I made a reservation for 8PM. But it was only 5, and we had plenty of time.
Onward to the Vancouver Urban Winery, which seems to be more restaurant/brewery than winery. There were no formal tours, which I can only presume was because they don’t make too much wine there. So we hunkered down at a table with several flights – 2 wine flights, 1 beer flight and a plate full of things I don’t eat. I heard that the sausage was tasty, but I was
perfectly content with the wine. We tasted through several wines from British Colombia, with the highlight being the Baillie-Grohman Recolte Blanche, a delightful blend of Pinot Gris, Schoenburger, Kerner and Gewürztraminer. (I don’t know what those middle two are, either…)
Once we finished the beer and wine, we left on foot and headed to dinner. It was still a little early, so we stopped at a pet supply store for some gifts, and then at Yaletown Brewery for, well, you get the idea. We headed down the street to the Yaletown location of Hapa Izakaya. It is small, dark and lively, with a somewhat frenetic atmosphere behind the bar. By this time we had three different drink stops and were enjoying our sake (cold for us, warm for our friends), and needed food. So, I started ordering what seemed like everything on the menu, starting with all of the things I was most interested in: kimchee (I have a strange love for the fermented cabbage, more than is socially acceptable for someone that is not Korean), sockeye salmon sashimi (Amazing! The dish of the night. So fresh and
flavorful), tuna sashimi (also delicious, but could not compare the the sockeye), beef tataki and a seared beef roll. We also managed to order a shrimp tempura, shrimp roll, and some rice bowl filled with pork, eggs, garlic, vegetables and a sauce served in a hot stone bowl. There was also some octopus roll, special of the day, which was ordered, but I avoided.
All of the food was outstanding. Some of it was so outstanding that we had to order more (salmon sashimi). Service was good, and friendly, and as we were getting the check and getting ready to leave, I assumed this would be a rather pricey meal. After all, we were all stuffed, had eaten huge amounts of the yumminess, and we had sake. Turns out, I was wrong. It was inexpensive, at just $92 Canadian (or $76 US), including a hefty tip. It could not get any better.
We made a plan to meet up the next day when our friend finished working, around 4, and walk the seawall at Stanley
Park (about six and a half miles), and then have dinner at The Fish House in Stanley Park with my parents, who were arriving that day. How did that turn out? Up next: the 13 mile stroll, revolving drinks and Malaysian food.