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Tojo: Vancouver’s Sushi King

When visiting Vancouver, sushi lovers make a beeline to West Broadway to sample the plates of Hidekazu Tojo, the city’s sushi master.


Tojo's dining room exudes casual elegance.

Tojo's dining room exudes casual elegance.

When visiting Vancouver, sushi lovers make a beeline to West Broadway to sample the plates of Hidekazu Tojo, the city’s sushi master.

Although he’s been working in Vancouver restaurants – first Maneki, then Jinya – since 1971, Tojo didn’t make his mark until 1988, when he opened his eponymous sushi shrine.

In early 2007, he moved into luxe digs more befitting of his exalted status.

To his great credit, Tojo only uses sustainable fish and sources 80 per cent of his catch locally.

A word to the wise: For the best value, and best eating experience, park yourself at the 15-seat polished-wood sushi bar, request the omakase tasting menu and put yourself in the hands of Tojo and his crew.

My multi-course feast begins with ultra-fresh albacore tuna sashimi scented with grated ginger, green onion and shiso leaf, and ends with rich, green-tea crème brulee and ginger-pineapple sorbet.

In between, I sample a parade of exceptional sushi, sashimi and cooked items.

Among the superb nigiri sushi are cloud-like broiled unagi (freshwater eel) painted with a thick, soy-based glaze; raw spot-prawn and scallop, sweet and delicate; and melt-in-the-mouth albacore-tuna toro (fatty belly).

On the cooked side, there’s exquisite black cod, smoked, steamed and stuffed with mango, pine mushrooms and root veg, and snapper – stuffed with spinach and morel mushrooms and crusted in pulverized rice crackers – in sweet miso sauce.

And then the marvelous maki rolls: Shiitake mushrooms, pickled daikon, and plum, wrapped in razor-thin slices of cucumber; and the signature golden roll (raw scallop, crab, salmon and spot prawn, wrapped in an egg crepe and topped with golden herring roe).

All of this unfolds in an airy, 180-seat room – high ceiling, polished wood, elegant blue palette – that exudes casual sophistication.

Complementing the main room is a snazzy 30-seat sake lounge.

For corporate business meetings, Tojo’s offers a private room seating 40 and can devote a section of the restaurant seating 80 to 100. Serving dinner only, the restaurant will, however, open for lunch (minimum 30 people required), a boon to meeting and event planners looking for a top-notch afternoon dine-around.

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