Youshoku – a Japanese take on Western cuisine, European dishes with Japanese flavours melded into one. Widely popular in Japan, but hard to find in Vancouver, despite all the Japanese food hype, a restaurant serving primarily this type of cuisine, and not just a few menu items.
Named after the street it is on, one would easily drive past this restaurant unless you were specifically looking for it. Luckily, Fatboy and I were walking that day and chanced upon the menu they had outside their windows. It was rather empty, give one or two other tables, when we walked in, which did not feel like a good sign. It was clean and simple, with a family-run feel to it. The staff, both floor and kitchen, were Japanese as I heard them chatter about in the back before we were seated. Our server seemed genuine and nice, brought us two glasses of water along with the menu.
Melon Soda Float
MY CHILDHOOD! Ah, the flavours of my summers in Japan. Fatboy laughed at me for ordering such an artificial and childish drink, but I was too far in heaven to care. Only complaint was, unlike the picture on the menu, the scoop of ice cream was rather small. It quickly dissolved into froth.
Mussels Hot Pot; mussels with white wine garlic butter in a hot pot
Exactly how it’s described, with sprigs of dill and plenty of garlic, it was very good and not at all overpowering the freshness of the shellfish. Since the pot was so small, we didn’t get a lot of mussels, but that was made up in quality.
Look at the size of them, so plump and juicy. Very fresh, and of course they have to be, being just a few steps away from Steveston Pier. I’ve been told that the more orangey ones were females, meaning they’re more meatier and sweet.
Meal Set – miso soup & fresh garden salad
Fatboy and I turned both our main dishes into a meal set by adding $3, which was a pretty fair deal. We both received a decent sized cup of miso and green salad. Miso is what you would normally expect, I think they used white miso because it tasted really light. Moncton’s garden salad consisted of green lettuce, sliced radishes, corn, and a simple dressing.
Unlike Western hamburgers, Japanese hamburger just comes with the patty, very simple and easy to make at home – another childhood favourite of mine. The fries were store-bought and poorly fried, they were in the middle of not being crisp enough, but not quite soggy at the same time. The demi-glace was perfect and very homey, full of umami with the addition of mushrooms. Then comes the highlight, the patty. It was so moist and juicy, very nicely seasoned that I could have just had it without the sauce, cooked to perfection with just a bit of pink. Even Fatboy couldn’t keep off my dish, that’s not to say his was not as good.
Pork Katsu Curry; breaded pork tenderloin with curry sauce over steamed rice
Fatboy’s love of curry knows no bounds, and to his benefit, Moncton’s curry isn’t chunky unlike the ones I make at home. He hates potatoes, unless mashed or in fry-form. The tenderloin was lightly coated and fried, it was not oily but incredibly lean. It would have been hard to eat if it weren’t for the curry, which tasted homemade from scratch, with a bit of help from Glico that is. Even though you don’t see much ingredients as they’ve been cooked down thoroughly, you can still taste everything and see minor remnants of carrots, potato, onions and even some mushrooms. There was also a subtle sweetness to the curry, which can only be achived by grating an apple, true Japanese youshoku-style.
We were both very happy with our meal, more so for me. It was a new experience for Fatboy, showing him different sides of Japanese food aside from the common izakayas, ramen and sushi restaurants that’s all over Vancouver. All the dishes tasted as if it came straight from someone’s kitchen at home prepared by their mother, a different style of comfort food.