Kazu Japanese Restaurant

Go to many of the Japanese restaurants in and around the Vancouver area and you can expect to be greeted by some sort of gimmick. The so-called “specialty” rolls have quickly become the norm. It has become increasingly difficult to find a place that simply sticks to the basics and does them well. And that’s how I came to be interested in Kazu Japanese Restaurant along Hastings Street in Burnaby.

Looking through Kazu’s menu, you won’t find anything particularly special. It’s all quite generic in its approach, giving you a basic range of nigiri, standard maki rolls, vegetable and prawn tempura, and a handful of appetizers. And perhaps that’s part of the charm of Kazu. They’re not trying to impress you with something fancy. They’re keeping it simple and traditional.

And despite an issue with my takeout order (they accidentally gave it to someone else), I’m reasonably pleased with what Kazu has to offer. The assorted sashimi (shown above) unexpectedly came with both amaebi (sweet shrimp) and hotategai (whole scallop). Better still, I got the deep fried prawn head from the amaebi.

Kazu Japanese Restaurant

The rolls weren’t as amazing, but they weren’t exactly disappointing either. I particularly liked the deceptively simple negihama rolls (left). While I still prefer Sushimoto for North Burnaby sushi, Kazu’s a solid choice for a no-nonsense sushi lunch or dinner.

Kazu Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Osaka Sushi

For whatever reason, the stretch of Hastings Street between Boundary and Willingdon has attracted an unexpected number of Japanese restaurants. This is odd, given that this neighborhood is traditionally Italian (and increasingly Chinese). Just a couple of blocks down the road from Kazu is Osaka Sushi.

In addition to the usual array of basics, Osaka also offers a range of “special rolls” in and around the $8 range. Osaka Sushi is also one of the few locations around town that offers a brown rice option (for an additional charge).

What you see above is an example of the $9.95 lunch special; you select three items from a pre-determined list, accompanied by a complimentary miso soup. I went with the ahi red tuna roll (not very red), three pieces of ebi nigiri and three pieces of the chopped scallop nigiri. That’s not a bad value at all. The tempura at Osaka is also quite good, not drowning in grease like some lesser establishments.

Osaka Sushi on Urbanspoon

Both Kazu and Osaka represent something that I really love about living in Vancouver. Even when you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can get your hands on some decent sushi at an affordable price. Even our worst sushi isn’t all that horrible.