Disclosure: I was invited by Chinesebites.com to attend a media-comped dinner by Vanvan Izakaya. All opinions are mine alone.
I had been curious about VanVan Izakaya after reading a Vancity Buzz article about them last year. VanVan has been described as an izakaya (Japanese pub) that serves up Kyoto-inspired dishes which are closely authentic. The sound of “VanVan” in Japanese means “fully, a lot or many” so the restaurant hopes for customers to return to enjoy their food. Recently, Chinesebites.com invited me along with other influencers to attend a media-comped dinner at VanVan Izakaya.
Vanvan Izakaya Menu
The part of VanVan’s menu that we tried includes grilled, sashimi, deep fried, rice, noodles, salads, and cold dishes. We were allowed to order dishes of our choosing off this menu. In this blog post, I will categorize the dishes I tried as “Must Haves,” “Pretty Good,” ‘Average” and “Least Favs.”
For good laughs over food, try the Russian roulette octopus balls ($6.80). There are five balls but one of them has spicy wasabi and hot sauce. The takoyaki had a nice grilled batter on the outside and delicious octopus filling.
The chicken cutlets with sweet and sour sauce ($7.80) was a favorite among the influencers at my table. The chicken cutlets were very crispy on the outside and the sauce had a nice balance of sweet and sour. The server also mentioned that this is one of her favorite dishes at VanVan.
The battered prawns with garlic chilimayo ($8.80) were deliciously crispy and had a sweet taste.
The scallop sashimi ($8.80) is a unique sashimi offering. It had a nice tender texture and was slightly sweet.
The grilled pork jowl with Japanese citrus sauce ($8.80) had just the right amount of citrus flavour. The pork jowl was quite tender.
I quite liked the BBQ eel rice in hot bowl ($8.80), which had a nice sweet and sour taste. It presents as a good hot bowl option.
I enjoyed the marinated jellyfish ($4.80) which was simple, tasty and had that wonderful crunchy texture.
The green tea soy milk pudding ($4.80) was simple yet delicious. It was not overly sweet.
There were two ice cream options: green tea ($4.00) and black sesame ice cream ($4.00). Both had just the right amount of sweetness. It was my first time trying the black sesame ice cream, and I think it won’t be my last!
The seared beef with garlic dressing ($9.80) nicely melted in your mouth.
The grilled beef short ribs ($9.80) had a nice flavour ($9.80).
The tuna and shrimp sashimi were the chef’s choice sashimi ($16.80). I thought that they were average.
The raw tuna and avocado salad ($8.90) was tasty but not very memorable.
The dried squid snack tempura ($7.80) was one of the least favorites. There was too much batter and too little squid.
The beef carpaccio ($9.80) was a bit underwhelming. The portion of beef for this dish was small in my opinion.
I was not a fan of the rice cake wrapped strawberry ($4.80). I think the rice cake was a bit too gummy in texture for me.
The octopus sashimi ($7.80) seems like an interesting delicacy, but perhaps more of an acquired taste. I think octopus is best served in a flavoured manner and not as a sashimi.
VanVan Izakaya has a good variety of tasty grilled, deep fried, sashimi and cold Japanese dishes. There are certainly some must tries including the Russian roulette octopus balls, chicken cutlets with sweet and sour sauce, battered prawns with garlic chilimayo, and scallop sashimi. I recommend sharing the Russian Roulette Octopus balls with others, and laughing it off if you get the one with the spicy wasabi!
Facebook: Robson-Sakaba VanVan