This may be the kind of place you dined at 20 years ago before the non-japanese run AYCE/etc. invasion of quasi-japanese restaurants started.
The first thing I noticed was everything is a la carte (no boats, boxes, etc). That was a bit of a shock as I haven't seen that in years. I have to admit that kind of bugs me as quite frankly I am lazy and perhaps cheap and don't want to hunt through the menu ordering when I could just point to a boat. For this reason alone I haven't rushed to go back (even 20 years ago authentic japanese included boxes and boats).
It's the little things they do at this restaurant that impress me. Real Japanese service. A complimentary small starter dish. The Wasabi is different - you realize you've been eating the goo out of a tube at all the other restaurants, where their wasabi is different and fresh (it has fibers in it), and tastes great. We also noticed actual Japanese diners here too, which I have to say is extremely rare in a Japanese restaurant these days (my wife is Japanese too)!
The food itself was good.
Ambience was so so, it's a bit of a hole in the wall and nothing special.
In summary if you are looking for an authentic japanese experience a la carte this is a good option to try. You could probably run up a big bill pretty quick here. While I give it high marks I don't see myself going back often at all as there are some similar options out there I prefer, but others may prefer this place.
Based on another review board, we decided to try this place tonight for a casual dinner out. Hamaei is located in the Westview Plaza off #1 highway and is easy to get to if you have a car. Operated by real Japanese people, the service and food quality are good-outstanding, about a 3.5 star out of 5. Upon arrival, we were greeted by several servers dressed in yukata's and immediately given hot cloths to cleanse our hands. The tea was awesome and could've been a green tea/barley mix. The menu offered a varied selection of the standard Japanese fare: teriyaki, udons, tempura's, sushis, dons, etc. The prices were reasonable, although a bit pricey for some of the nigiri items. We ordered:
Adegadashi tofu ($3.75) - sub-standard, didn't have any taste or toppings
Miso Eggplant ($4.75) - good, but a bit salty
Appetizer tempura ($4.95) - standard, tasted fresh but also "doughy"
Negitoro roll ($3.25) - good
Dynamite roll ($4.25) - very good
Toro Nigiri ($2.75 ea) - good, but had better. Not melt in your mouth
Saba Nigiri (2.25 ea) - sockeye. good
grilled black cod ($7.95) - tasty although a bit dry
Dinner for two $65 including tips. Not bad but not spectacular food either. The food was well prepared and came quickly but somehow lacked a "oomph" to the palate. A good recommendation if you're in the North Shore and require a sushi fix. Based on service alone, I will come back.
This place is nestled in a corner of a shopping mall, so my expectations were not high going in. The restaurant itself is somewhat crowded, and could be a little cleaner. As previous reviewers remarked, the staff are mostly Japanese, and the servers wear peach-colored kimonos, etc. Service was fine throughout the meal, and no issues there.
Food-wise, the selection was a little narrow, and the combos are quite pricey for what you get. Still, the food was okay, and the sushi I had was acceptable. I saw mostly Caucasians eating there, but I have no doubt that the Japanese homestay students in the neighborhood would come if they could afford it.
With so many better choices out there I won't be back.
This is an excellent overall spot. They cater to the authentic crowd as well as westernized palates. Good clean flavors and pleasant service make this a good choice. There are some "real Japanese" choices on their fresh sheets that might scare you if you read too closely - unless you like fish heads in your soup!
Strip mall restaurants are somewhat iffy and this one being tucked in a tiny corner between a dollar store and nail place makes you a little leary at first. But what a nice suprise! An actual Japanese family owned Japanese restaurant with excellent food.
Nice prompt service and surprise again, other Japanese people eating there! Not something you see too often. It's a pleasure to support a little family run restaurant when their offerings are wonderful. Yes - I would agree it's a little cramped but that adds to its charm and I'm sure help keeps the rent down so hopefully it will last stay around for a good while!
It's the perfect restaurant for my 6 yr daughter, husband and I to grab a dinner close to home. My husband gets to delight in good quality sashimi, I enjoy the rolls and my daughter loves the free turnip appetizer.
Had lunch there after having it recommended by a friend. We had a California Roll, a box of Sashimi, Miso Soup, Tempura.
All food was very average. Many other Japanese restaurants offer the same calibre of food. Even the tea was weak...
If you want quality and innovation, you must go to Zen in West Vancouver.
Service was prompt, always asking us if we wanted more tea.
Ambiance is unfortunately cramped and crowded. Quite dark and dingy too.
Would not recommend unless you were stuck in Westview and had a craving for Japanese.
This is my favorite north shore Japanese restaurant and it has a devoted clientele who sustain a thriving high quality operation in a locale slightly hidden by the adjoining dollar and nail-care stores. The chef and his wife are supported by two other sushi chefs three long-time kimono clad servers and a strong back-kitchen brigade. No "all you can eat" and no combos. Just delicious sushi, sashimi, and a changing selection of hot dishes and desserts advertised on the "special menu" and the blackboard.
The experience begins with a warm friendly welcome. The seating is tight but not uncomfortable. Interaction with other diners is an option. The restaurant seems to accommodate some of the best behaved children I've met. The fast service, variety and flavours keep even the youngest customers content.
Challenge the chef and you'll see and taste the skill of a master ... just don't expect it to be cheap.
Been here countless times and never disappointed! Have dined here with native Japanese and they rave about it. Give it a try. This place will meet your expectation level. We've just made reservations and are on our way to enjoy... again! This is a sleeping giant. The service is friendly, food outstanding, and ambience what you would expect.
Hamaei is a true gem. For almost 14 years, Mr. Warabi has been preparing simple, meticulously prepared fine food, using the finest ingredients one can find in Vancouver. His gently self-effacing, kimono wearing wife looks after the service with elegant efficiency. Their obsession with quality, freshness and craftmanship is legendary in Vancouver's Japanese community. For many, it is a home away from home. Japanese, both local and expatriates, often make up over half the diners, in a small restaurant that is often packed with people waiting inside and out for a table. This is not your run of the mill, westernized Japanese fare that they come to partake in. It is food for the purists by a purist. This is a simple, unpretentious restaurant, where heart and soul go into remarkably authentic cuisine. It is a place where one closes ones eyes every few bites and travels for a moment to the Land of the Rising Sun. Enjoy!
We had been looking for this place for a while. We received numerous tips from various people that this place had really good sushi.. It was hard to find because its tucked into the westview shopping area, between a dollar store and mcdonalds.. every time i went there, i would find the japanese market, which also serves ready-made sushi, but i was sure this could not be the place.
Anyway, we tried it. I will say, the food was very good.. we did takeout, but just seeing the inside of the place, very nice ambiance.
The menu was nice (not huge on rolls if you like that sort of thing), but lots of different type of fish that you might not find at other sushi places. When we got the food, it was very nicely presented (in takeout containers), and very fresh.
However, you need to evaluate whether its worth the price. These folks are quite expensive. And the nigiri was not overly large, quite small actually, fresh, but small.
Now, we've been to Takumi over near horseshoe bay.. Hamaei was about the same price wise, but if you want decadent expensive sushi, go to Takumi.. with great ambiance too. I didnt feel that Hamaei was good value.. again, great fish, but a little overpriced for what you got.
This is a great place for special occasions, but if i were doing takeout sushi weekly, this will break the bank.
Maybe you get what you pay for. We will probably order again, but special occasions only.
This spot has changed from one Japanese restaurant to another, but this is awesome. I am Japanese and I love their food, whenever I'm home-sick, this is where I go. One of the best quality sashimi and fishes in general. The way all of their dishes are spiced is very accurate to what real Japanese dishes should taste like. I also like the atmosphere, very Japanese. Over all I enjoy having dinner here very very much.
Living in Vancouver turns one into a bit of a sushi snob.
Hamaei is a little surprise tucked into the Westview area of North Vancouver. Although the atmosphere is usually busy, sometimes bordering on hectic, the food is next to the best we've eaten.
The service is great, a Japanese staff starting you off with hot cloths for your hands, as they're garbed in traditional kimonos.
The value is quite good. It's not overly expensive, nor inexpensive.
I'd love to see the owners find a bit larger space, and completely renovate it to their style, freshening the environment up.
It's becoming popular, so expect it to be busy, but we still thoroughly enjoy it.
Our favourite Japanese food restaurant. We recommend it to
all our friends and soon it becomes thier favourite too. A real find.
Only complaint is the booth seats are so tiny I can hardly fit in
My wife who is a real connoisseur of Japanese food agrees this is
the best value in town.
Vancouver has an (over)abundance of Japanese restaurants and sometimes I get tired of eating crappy Japanese food. Hamaei is my favourite little place for Japanese. It's actually Japanese run and I love the Japanese waitresses in their kimonos, very sweet and friendly. It's not a big place, so seating is cozy and I'd recommend a reservation on weekends.
They don't have boxes for dinner, so order and share. I usually go with family and we always get lots of California rolls (the best I've had, creamy and so good), chicken karaage (boneless, juicy and flavourful), and salmon sashimi. Some less mainstream dishes that we also enjoy are the grilled sockeye salmon cheek & belly and the marinated tuna karaage (with a wasabi mayonnaise type sauce and tower of fried things on top). The salmon teriyaki is also good.
I think it's good value for the quality of food. Not as cheap as alot of crappy restaurants, but not expensive. And I definitely don't think it's a dingy hole-in-the-wall - It's small, yes, but charming. I've recommended it to others, including a supervisor who also felt it was a great little place.