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[personal profile] thisisarestaurantblog
Okay. Apologies for the massive spam, but I figured this was the best way to give "the whole experience" and be able to link to individual reviews. :) I'm posting in reverse order so that when someone loads up the page (or the tag) they can scroll from top to bottom and follow the order of restaurants we visited.

This post is the overview post.

So, the Boyfriend had a friend coming to visit from another province, and we wanted to do something that can only be done in Vancouver, for food. Her landlocked province is not a good place for sushi, so that was her suggestion.

I started Googling around looking for sushi reviews and came across the concept of an izakaya crawl. An izakaya, if you don't know, is kind of like a Japanese pub: small dishes of food, and sake and beer.

An izakaya crawl, therefore, is like a bar crawl gone Nippon.

Of course, in order to visit a lot of izakaya in succession, you have to be somewhere where there are a lot of izakaya, ideally somewhere where those izakaya are in walking distance. Vancouver is perhaps unique outside of Japan in having an area with a high density of izakaya: the stretch of Robson St. between Burrard and Denman, and then Denman between Barclay and W. Georgia. Many are true izakaya, but one can also mix it up by visiting some sushi places, some other Asian places, even a Western tapas restaurant.

Here's our timeline:
17:30 -- Guu with Garlic
18:25 -- Tapastree
19:25 -- Kingyo
20:25 -- Hon's Wun Tun House (my roommate joined us starting here)
21:15 -- Hapa Izakaya
22:00 -- Gyoza King (roommate left after here)
23:10 -- Zakkushi
24:00 -- finish line!

Altogether we shared 29 different dishes and I think I tasted 19 or so different alcoholic beverages, of which 5 were actually mine, but because it was all spread out I never got more than buzzed, which surprised me. In fact we didn't bother with a taxi home, we took public transit.

Alcohol was easily half the bill in the places where we drank, and non-alcoholic specialty drinks were often expensive too, so if you want to save money and still have the excitement of an izakaya crawl, drink water at most places.

Best overall restaurant of the night was without a doubt Kingyo, and worst was hands down Hapa Izakaya. Best value was the potstickers at Hon's; biggest splurge was the sashimi trio at Kingyo. Best and worst atmosphere was Kingyo and Hapa once again, but Guu with Garlic probably would have given Kingyo a run for its money if we had gone later in the night. Best service goes to Kingyo for the individual attention we received despite sitting at the bar and how busy they were, and worst was probably Gyoza King, due to a language barrier more than anything. Best drinks is a tough one. Guu with Garlic had the best Japanese drinks, but Tapastree had the best and most interesting cocktails. And one last star to Zakkushi for having the sweetest music, and also for seating us and being patient with our indecisiveness when I know they just wanted to close the kitchen and go home, lol.

I'd recommend any of these for your own crawl except Hapa Izakaya, and I'd recommend a crawl to anyone who like trying lots of dishes and drinks. I think you could probably fit more than seven places into your crawl if you were willing to keep going past midnight (several places are open until 1 or 2am). We debated hitting Toratatsu at that point but decided we would rather take public transit while the buses were still running more frequently.

Another recommendation is to sit at the bar whenever you can. Watching stuff being prepared is part of the fun.

A third recommendation is to wear nice socks, because if you choose to sit Japanese-style at a place, you'll take your shoes off.

If you have any questions about making your own izakaya crawl, don't hesitate to leave a comment. We did ours on a Tuesday night, so reservations may be more important on busier nights.
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