West Broadway’s Suika is part of a new wave of Izakaya restaurants in Vancouver, taking the more rustic, bar influenced, Japanese small plate dishes and modernizing them with a bit of West coast character.
Inside, Suika’s high ceiling dining room — complete with sleek, dark hued brick and concrete finishings — belie the humble exterior that camouflages itself in a drab and modest facade. Dangling from the ceiling, an opulent chandelier assemblage of old sake bottles shimmers as dressed in all black servers weave effortlessly through the sea of diners.
Case and I were seated at the bar lining the kitchen with a spectator’s view of the chefs in action. Suika — brought to you by the same folks as Kingyo — offer a menu of familiar, yet not quite typical izakaya dishes with a greater assortment of sushi, salads and fried kitchen items like agedashi tofu and karaage.
During spot prawn season, we wholeheartedly recommend the spot prawn sashimi, which is jumping out of the water fresh with the signature natural sweetness. It comes garnished with slivers of red onion and a slice of lemon for tartness, but we were equally happy to enjoy the prawns completely au natural.
The seafood offering continued to shine with the salmon carpaccio arriving, resembling an artist’s leftover paint palette — beautifully fresh slices of salmon garnished with a well orchestrated garden of green onions, tobiko, radish, ponzu sauce and drops of Japanese mayonnaise.
A welcome surprise was Suika’s homemade tofu — an exercise of excellence through simplicity: the creamy, yet firm cubes of cold tofu was elevated by the crispness of the spring onion shavings with added hints of sweet and savoury from the earthy bean paste.
It wasn’t all flawless, though. The promising Kakuni Bimbimbap, fell short as the kakuni was remarkably dry despite a layer of fat still firmly attached. And there was a noticeable lack of crispy rice bits at the bottom of the stone bowl — which, sadly — is our favourite part of bimbimbaps.
The grilled tuna collar also disappointed: heavily salted and so severely overcooked, we thought we were mistakenly gnawing on tuna jerky.
Luckily, the meal finished more positively with the Summer Brulee, a trio of brulee, mango ice cream and blueberry compote — a refreshing end to our meal.
Our dinner came to $67 including a beer, tips and taxes which is about on par with most izakayas in town. The vibe does feels less casual than Guu, but Suika has some nice, modern izakaya dishes. A few of those dishes could still use some work, but overall a nice alternative to the almost exclusively downtown izakaya phenomenon.
Perfect for: Izakaya outside of the downtown core.