One of my longtime friends was telling me that her favorite sushi restaurant in Vancouver is Green Leaf Sushi. The challenge, at least for me, is that it is located on West Broadway and almost Alma Street, a hop and a skip away from the UBC Point Grey campus. And I’m practically never out in that part of town. So, imagine my excitement when I heard a second location had opened by Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby. That’s Green Leaf Cafe.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

On some level, the opening of Green Leaf Cafe at 9604 Cameron Street — in the same complex as the Red Robin next to the Walmart entrance of Lougheed Town Centre — is bittersweet. I had been planning on visiting the Paros Taverna Greek restaurant for some time, but kept putting it off. Now, it’s closed and this new Korean-Japanese sushi restaurant has taken its place. Sign of the times and trends, I suppose.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

The interior is perhaps best described as “modern Japanese.” You’ll find plenty of wood tones throughout, as well as the exposed ceilings for a bit of an industrial vibe. It’s chic and trendy, much like the menu it provides and the clientele it’s trying to attract. Thankfully, prices are generally reasonable and in line with what you’d find at somewhere like Sushimoto on Holdom or Sushi Loku on East Broadway.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

Yuzu Duck Breast Linguine Soup – $10.50
Linguine, slow cooked sous vide duck breast slices in yuzu dashi broth

On the one hand, I was a little disappointed by the portion size of this dish. The circumference of the bowl was maybe only five or six inches across and about three inches deep. You get four slices of duck breast, along with some sliced tamago (egg), green onion, and linguine noodles. On the other hand, this yuzu dashi broth is delicious. It has that thoroughly satisfying umami dimension to it.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

And here is the requisite “noodle lift” photo for posterity.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

Grilled Chicken Gimbab – $5.00
Seaweed, seasoned rice, grilled chicken

Something that I’ve noticed in recent years, particularly in Vancouver, is the rising popularity of Korean cuisine. What’s more, what you’ll find that is that a lot of Japanese sushi restaurants are actually run by Korean folks. With the menu at Green Leaf Cafe, you’ll find a lot more of this crossover, including bibimbab, bulgogi, and kimchi tofu stew.

Kimbab, which is sometimes transliterated as “kimbap” or “gimbab” in this case, is sometimes described as “Korean sushi.” But that’d be akin to saying that wonton noodle soup is Chinese spaghetti and meatballs; it’s a little misleading. At Green Leaf Cafe, though, it might actually be accurate. This chicken gimbab was really more like a chicken teriyaki maki roll than “Korean” kimbab.

For that, you’re far better off going to Kimbab Cheonguk on North Road.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

Wild Sockeye Salmon Aburi Oshi Sushi – $12.00
Double layered wild salmon, oshi sauce, jalapeno

Served to us on the same wooden platter as the chicken gimbab, the salmon aburi oshi sushi is the main reason why we wanted to try this restaurant. They have a few other aburi sushi options here, including mackerel and scallop, but torched salmon with a jalapeno on top is the aburi classic. It’s like getting the baked pork chop rice at a Hong Kong style cafe (cha chaan teng); it’s the standard by which you judge everything else on the menu.

We decided to pay the slight premium ($2 more) for the wild sockeye over the farmed Atlantic salmon. The torch was good and the little slice of jalapeno pepper added just a hint of heat. The rice wasn’t quite right, though: slightly undercooked and perhaps a bit too long of a grain. For reference, “oshi” refers to the style of pressed sushi or box sushi, which is different in technique from your standard nigiri. The “aburi” part refers to the torching.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

Green Leaf-er – $19.00
Snapper fritter 3pc, daily appetizer sashimi 6pc, daily oshi 6pc

When we ordered this share platter, we didn’t realize that the “daily oshi” would be the Atlantic salmon aburi oshi sushi. As a result, we ended up with 12 pieces of salmon, in addition to three pieces of salmon sashimi. If we had known, we probably would have ordered a different aburi oshi. I will say that the wild sockeye was better though.

We weren’t completely sure what to expect with the snapper fritter. Really, it’s just snapper tempura with some sauce on top, served atop a small salad. This is a good sampler to share and it comes in larger variations for larger parties.

Green Leaf Cafe, Burnaby

Ice Cream
Black sesame and green tea

Maybe it’s because they haven’t been open that long, but the kitchen at Green Leaf Cafe had a hard time keeping up with orders. Since we had to wait a while to get our food, they offered some free ice cream as a positive gesture. That’s taking care of your customers. I did find that they had room for more tables, including a patio, but they’re probably not yet ready for that kind of volume.

It wasn’t all that long ago that you had to go to a higher end Japanese restaurant like Miku Restaurant to get aburi sushi in Vancouver. A lot has changed and it’s become a commonplace menu item. If you’re looking for some reasonably priced aburi to go along with your Korean fusion, Green Leaf might be worth a look. Our total bill came to around $55, including taxes and gratuity. We’ll probably be back soon.

For another opinion, check out Sherman’s review on Sherman’s Food Adventures. He ordered the much larger Green Leaf Signature Aburi Platter with six types of aburi sushi.