Standing as a true testament to time is Van-Ya, an authentic Japanese restaurant located just off of Kingsway near Joyce-Collingwood Station. Van-Ya first opened its doors in 1988 and has received many positive reviews from various Vancouver food bloggers, prompting me to visit the restaurant myself. Somehow, my entire family ended up tagging along. We were lucky enough to see the Skytrain break down once again and get caught in the traffic jam that ensued. Just another typical Vancouver day...
Arriving at 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, I expected the restaurant to be full, but that was not the case. In fact, the restaurant was nearly empty. The interior decor isn't much better than Sakura Sushi, and it was quite cold inside due to the strong air conditioning. There was also a limited assortment of items on the menu. On the other hand, the waitress was quite friendly, and with so many positive online reviews, I continued to hope for the best.
Tuna Sashimi - A
Sockeye Salmon Sashimi - A-
First to our table was the Small Sashimi, which consisted of three pieces of Tuna Sashimi and two pieces of Sockeye Salmon Sashimi. The cuts were quite small, but the sashimi was a couple notches fresher than your standard Japanese restaurant. The Tuna Sashimi was not too salty and deliciously soft, while the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi had a nice buttery sweetness.
Dynamite Roll - B+
The prawn tempura in the Dynamite Roll was quite hot when it arrived and had a rich taste. The sushi rice was well-constructed and didn't fall apart. My mom enjoyed this roll and decided to order another one toward the end of our meal!
Small Tempura - B-
The Small Tempura came with two prawns and one piece each of carrot, zucchini, and sweet potato. I found the oil to be slightly overused, but the prawns had a good snap. The vegetables were sufficiently soft and each packed a decent amount of flavour.
Sukiyaki - A-
In the midst of my frenzy to write my notes down for all of the dishes above, my family finished almost all of the sukiyaki. Fortunately, they saved me one piece of braised beef! I enjoyed the Japanese sweet soy base, the easy-to-chew beef, and the flavour-absorbing thick vermicelli. My sister loved the Sukiyaki so much that she wanted to eat ten orders of it. I never knew there was a bigger eater than me in my family...
Seeing the abundance of teishoku sets (set meals) on the menu, I decided to try out some of them. Pictured above is the Black Cod Teishoku, which came with Miso Soup, Green Beans (dressed with sesame sauce like goma-ae), steamed rice, Agedashi Tofu, and BBQ Black Cod.
Miso Soup - B+
The Miso Soup was mild in flavour with green onion and tofu. The tofu was not the smoothest kind, but there were no significant mishaps with the Miso Soup.
Agedashi Tofu - C+
I found the Agedashi Tofu to be rather strange. The whole thing lost its crispiness from being soaked in sauce, and the batter tasted like flimsy flavoured plastic. Oh my dear lords. The tofu, on the other hand, had a decent soft texture.
Black Cod - A-
The Black Cod was the highlight of the whole teishoku, as expected. Served at a hot temperature with silky smooth meat, all of us enjoyed this dish. Yes, we did divvy it up into really small pieces.
The other set meal that we ordered was the Chicken Combination, which consisted of Miso Soup, the same green bean with sesame sauce dish, steamed rice, Small Tempura, and Chicken Teriyaki.
Chicken Teriyaki - B+
The chicken in the Chicken Teriyaki was mostly tender with no overage of sauce. The mildly sweet teriyaki sauce brought out the flavours of the chicken well and livened up the mix of bean sprouts and cabbage.
As mentioned above, I found the service to be quite friendly. With the exception of the fried items, all of the dishes were above average in quality and prepared with care. The sashimi and the sukiyaki were the highlights of the evening. The prices do appear to be quite low on the menu, but the portion sizes are on the smaller side, hence the "Moderately Priced" rating. Van-Ya is one of the superior Japanese restaurants in the south part of Vancouver, and it is no surprise to me that the restaurant has stood for 27 years.