As much as I enjoy travelling around Vancouver, getting to my restaurant destinations can occasionally be a challenge. This time, not only was my sleep interrupted by virtue of the bus breaking down, but I was pestered by so many strangers for spare change that I might as well have written the words "Human Charity" with a Sharpie on my forehead. By the time I finally got to Japanese Bistro Hatzu, all of my hunger alarms were ringing at full blast, and I was so low on energy that I barely managed to stay awake.
Japanese Bistro Hatzu is a fusion Japanese restaurant that was previously the home of Sushi Bella and is run by the same owners. (Check out The Georgia Straight's article for more details about the launch of Japanese Bistro Hatzu.) The bistro features a variety of innovative fusion dishes in addition to an upscale dining area. The atmosphere was quite lively, and the restaurant was bringing in a steady stream of customers.
Truffle Dancing Shrimp - A-
I scanned the menu for things that looked like they would replenish my energy, and dancing shrimp seemed like a good option. The shrimp were meaty with a snap, and the truffle oil, balsamic reduction, and basil pesto blended well together. The creamy, savoury flavour of the shrimp was topped with a nice helping of bubbly masago.
Salmon Battera (Hatzu Oshi Sushi) - B+
Of course, I went for one of my favourite dishes to order at any fusion Japanese restaurant: the Salmon Oshi Sushi. The salmon had a soft texture, and the rice formation was above average. However, the jalapeño slices were quite large, and combined with the spicy mayonnaise, the oshi sushi was so spicy that I actually started crying. Trust me, that did not look very manly. After downing my entire glass of water, my mouth was still slightly burning. That being said, if you are used to eating spicy foods, then you should be able to manage this dish.
Dancing Ocean Roll - B+
While my energy levels were a bit higher, they still weren't at their best, so I thought that if the entire ocean started dancing, that would do the trick. The Dancing Ocean Roll came with prawn tempura, avocado, cucumber, sockeye salmon, tuna tataki, oroshi ponzu (grated radish with citrus sauce), green onion, and sesame seeds. Light seasoning was sprinkled on top of the roll for enhanced flavour, and the black pepper that garnished the tuna tataki was prominent. The thin pieces of sockeye salmon were actually glistening, and the creamy avocado inside was pleasant. The only issue with this roll was that the tempura was a bit overdone, which made it slightly hard and dry.
Hatzu Crunch Tower - A
My last dish of the day was the Hatzu Crunch Tower, which featured salmon and tuna sashimi, avocado, tenkasu (fried flour-batter bits), crab meat, shitake mushrooms, lemon mayonnaise, basil pesto, olive oil, garlic chips, capers, balsamic reduction, and tobiko. Yeah, they pretty much put the entire herbs section of the supermarket into this thing. With a predominantly creamy texture and flavour, this tower reminded me of sushi without the rice and the seaweed. The tuna was especially fresh and fresher than the salmon. This is a heavy dish, and although it is not very large, I would recommend sharing this with at least one other friend.
The service was professional and on-point throughout my visit. I enjoyed my visit here significantly more than my visit to Sushi Bella in Kitsilano (I'm not sure if the other Sushi Bella locations are better). The food was consistently well-prepared and above average. My energy was fully replenished by the end of the meal, and I would say that it was worth all the hassle I experienced in trying to get here.