"Hoshi Sushi is the place where sushi chefs go eat on their day off. The flavours are clean and there's no gimmick there. It's just straight up fish, rice, wasabi, soy sauce. If you go often enough, you start to recognize the other regular customers and it's very reminiscent of a neighborhood bar in Japan – that's one of the reasons why I love the place. I'll pop in for a quick bite if I can grab a seat at the counter. Seating is limited to about 10 so don't bring a crowd.
"Once you've finished eating, you can walk around Granville Island market and smell the fresh fruit, flowers or just hang out by the water – it's fantastic. I often order the Kappa Roll. The nori is toasty, rice is slightly warm and fragrant from the vinegar, and the cucumber is cold and crisp. Dipped in their house soy sauce blend and it's game over."
Hoshi Sushi, 1535 Johnston Street, Creekhouse #102, Granville Island
Recommended by Dan Olson, Railtown Café and Railtown Catering
"I'm a familiar face at Octopus' Garden. I start by warming Sada-san up with a Dewar's 12 and enjoy his Omakase menu with the freshest sashimi around, including his bluefin collection of o-toro and chu-toro. The boat table in the middle of the room is always popular, though my preference is one of the tables close to the sushi bar. I usually end the evening for another drink or two with the kitchen staff."
Recommended by Jonathan Chovancek from Café Medina and Bittered Sling Bitters
"Maumi is my new neighbourhood go-to for sushi. It’s a tiny under-the-radar spot run by Chef Maumi Ozaki and his partner Yumeko. They offer a very traditional Japanese Omakase Menu that features incredible fish at the peak of freshness. In addition to the sashimi and nigiri, I particularly enjoyed a delicious grilled fish bone miso soup. Make a reservation before the word gets out!"
Recommended by Faizal Kassam from Cibo Trattoria and UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar
"Zen is one of my favourite sushi spots and features one of the top patios around. It's only a short drive away, though its tranquil Dundarave setting makes you feel like you've been whisked away to another time and place. I love the Hamachi Peak Roll with tempura yellowtail, shiso and green onions in a soya wrap and Barbecue Salmon Skin, and always order their Chef's Selection Sashimi."
Recommended by Alex Chen from Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
"I love the relaxed setting, yet feeling of formality as the entire staff is professional and knowledgeable. I always put myself in Chef Yuji's hands and order the Omakase Menu, so the dishes change frequently depending on what's in season. The most memorable dish I've had at Yuji's was Fermented Fish Gut with a creamy cheese. It sounds like a bizarre combination, but it was mind-blowing."
Recommended by Thomas Haas from Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie
"Good, fresh and consistent, my family visits this little sushi place on the North Shore at least once a week. We love that it’s a family-run business like ours, and that the atmosphere is casual and approachable. Though we love so many dishes on the menu, we always order the Spicy Tuna Roll and Smoked Black Cod."
Recommended by David Hawksworth from Hawksworth Restaurant
"I like going to Shiro at Cambie and 16th. I usually sit at the counter and love the friendly atmosphere and great service – everyone is always well taken care of. I order the albacore toro, lots of sashimi, the agedashi tofu and whatever else is fresh on the menu."
Shiro Japanese Restaurant, 3096 Cambie Street, Vancouver
Kishimoto Japanese Kitchen + Sushi Bar
Recommended by Letitia Wan from Ask For Luigi
"I tried Kishimoto on the Drive recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. The room itself is casual, no fuss, but service is genuine. There's no wait-list and no phone back, so you actually have to wait nearby so you don't lose your spot on the list.
"They had a really authentic fresh yuba in dashi broth with mistuba, which doesn't look like much to the regular diner, but I appreciated the depth of flavour and simplicity, reminiscent of Kyoto's traditional cuisine. I also had tempura fiddleheads which was refreshing to see something other than the usual tempura vegetables.
"I used to live in Squamish, and would like to give a shout out to Sushi Sen – they are not just great sushi for Squamish/Whistler, but would also give a lot of places in the city a run for their money – always busy, family run, everything's good!"
"If money isn’t a factor, I think the best sushi in the city is actually at the Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown. Add to this they have a far better beverage selection than your typical sushi restaurant, a killer patio, plus you can get great oysters so they win hands down.
"However, there's a great little underrated place on Robson called Sapporo Sushi that falls into the 'cheap' sushi category that has remarkably fresh fish and is really good if you're just going for the food and not a night out."
Blue Water Cafe, 1095 Hamilton Street, Vancouver; Sapporo Sushi, 1709 Robson Street, Vancouver
Zest Japanese Cuisine
Recommended by Ned Bell from YEW Seafood + Bar
"I've been eating with Yoshi at Zest since I was 17. Just sit at the sushi counter and let Yoshi and Tatsuya cook for you. They have an incredible hot kitchen as well as amazing sushi and I love all that they do. I love their Tori Gyoza (chicken dumplings), Zest Tuna and the sashimi – their fish quality is premium. The feature sheet is always locally and seasonally delicious, and creative."
Want to eat like a chef? Visit one of these recommended sushi spots for the freshest seafood in town
Vancouver is blessed with an abundance of zingingly fresh seafood and talented chefs who know how to make it shine. Talk to anyone in the city and they’ll likely have a recommendation for their favourite sushi spot. In fact, according to The Vancouver Sun, there are more than 600 sushi outlets in Metro Vancouver, so there are certainly plenty of places to pick from.
We asked some of the city’s best chefs where their favourite sushi restaurant is and what we need to order there. Get your chopsticks ready and bring your appetite.
Nikki Bayley is an award-winning travel writer, guide book author and spirits and cocktail journalist whose work appears in National Geographic Traveller, The Globe and Mail and the Difford’s Guide. A cheese fan, hula hooper and all-round word nerd, she writes regularly for BCLiving about food, drink, spas and everything else that makes life worth living.