Masayoshi is quickly gaining a reputation for being the best sushi restaurant in Vancouver. Renowned for the omakase menu, we had to try it for ourselves.
As we planned our trip to Vancouver, we discovered that the city is well known for it’s large variety of Japanese restaurants, ranging from gastropubs known as izakayas to sushi bars. After living in California, we are huge fans of sushi so when I read about a sushi chef with an impressive resume that had just opened his own place with an omakase menu, I knew we had to try it. Despite our love of our sushi, we had never done an omakase menu where we left things with the chef...so we went for it!
The restaurant is on a busy street, away from the city center. It’s completely unassuming and had we not had specific directions, we would have walked right by it several times. It’s worth it to note that if you have plans to go to Vancouver, make a reservation in advance of your trip. Masayoshi is not only small, but the omakase menu requires three days notice. As soon as you enter, the space is small with Chef Masayoshi at the sushi counter patiently working. The space is simple, streamlined without any fussy decorations getting in the way of your meal, but without seeming cold. Elements like a milk glass chandelier and deep gold and wood accents help to warm things up, as does the hospitable staff. They do everything they can to ensure that you’re taken care of.
When we first sat down we didn’t really talk to each other, as we both were just so captivated by everything that was going on. The chef is meticulous, cleaning after every cut and preparation, the wait staff was busy preparing drinks, serving guests and making sure our tea was constantly poured. It felt like the entire space was silent and focused on the chef’s preparations.
Chef Masayoshi Baba is quiet, reserved and incredibly focused on his knife and the fresh fish that sits in front of him. Over the course of our hour-long omakase session I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the chef. Everything he did was with patience, precision, and great skill...we were watching a culinary artist take such pride in his work!
When I researched Masayoshi I learned that he is one a few chefs trained and licensed to serve puffer fish (fugu), a poisonous delicacy. Although new methods of raising puffer fish have eliminated the danger of poisoning, it’s still an impressive skill to have…There was no fugu on the menu, only an army of wonderfully fish fish and other seafood delicacies
Don’t expect to find chicken teriyaki or other “Westernized options” on the menu. Instead take comfort in knowing you will be served some of the best nigiri, sashimi and a few other typical Japanese dishes. You can choose to do an omakase menu or order off the a la carte menu, which has a coding system showing you which seafood and fish items are recommended by Ocean Wise, an ocean conservatory program. Admittedly I can be a bit intimidated when it comes to ordering sashimi, so we put our faith in the chef and went with an omakase tasting set. Available only at the bar, you must make reservations in advance…don’t risk just walking in.
Every bite was perfect, delectable, different and carefully selected by the chef. Our omakase for the night included an array of nigiri ranging from red eye snapper, albacore tuna, smoked fish, blue fin tuna, and went on for about 12 bites. I lost count somewhere between the smoked salmon (smoked at our table) and the dashi clear soup that was boiled in front of us with a reverse osmosis siphon system. Both the smoked salmon, with smoke that billows out of a dome right before your eyes, and the dashi soup have become signature dishes that you have to try whether you opt for the omakase or not.
Go to this restaurant if you want incredible delicious sushi and nigiri. The food is elegant yet the space is comfortable.