This restaurant is a brand spanking new addition to the Robson St. area izakaya scene. Always in pursuit of this city's hidden gems, I was excited to find that it had finally opened.
First impression upon entering: The place is tiny and beautifully appointed. Dark, luxurious woods, ambient lighting and an intimate layout make this a great place to take a date. There is also a bright and sunny glassed-in "patio" upfront. Staff were very friendly, welcoming and professional. The restaurant was much quieter than your average izakaya joint - no yelling out to greet the customers, no noisy large groups. In fact, it was quite upscale and relaxing (but please, nix the Kenny G!)
My main complaint is that the price point is way too high for the quality/quantity of food offered. I say this having visited several other izakaya restaurants in the area, so I believe I have a solid basis of comparison.
Green tea, which is gratus at most Asian restaurants, was $3. A glass of iced oolong was $3.50, no refills, and the glass was actually about half the size I expected it to be. Dishes average at around $10 for tapas sized plates, with some of the meat dishes edging up above the $20 mark. The quantity of food simply does not justify the price, nor does the quality. For example, I ordered the agedashi tofu (at $9.50) and was presented with three pieces of tofu in a very large bowl. Tasty, indeed, but a lot of money for very little tofu. The other dishes we ordered were in fact quite mediocre. The teriyaki chicken came with four tiny (about 1.5" squared) pieces of dark meat chicken on a plate of greens. Not a whole lot of food for the $11 or so dollars. My date and I shared five dishes, which ran us $75 including tip, and we were absolutely STARVING an hour later. We'd have needed twice the amount of food in order to be satisfied (and neither one of us are particularly voracious eaters). The food is nicely presented, but not knock-your-socks-off beautiful, like some other local places. There was no "wow" factor in any of it.
Service was fantastic. Our server was prompt and polite, and was very interested to know how we were enjoying our meal. She was there when we needed her, but not so much as to be intrusive.
So, to recap: Prices are high for what you get. The quality, quantity and presentation need to be improved, or else the prices should be lowered a few bucks a plate. There's a ton of competition in the area, and this restaurant is going to have to work hard to stay competitive What they do have going for them is their intimate atmosphere. If they could improve the food, I would definitely eat there over some of the noisier, more crowded places, but for now, I'll take the crowds in exchange for beautiful, tasty and satisfying food.
As this restaurant is brand new and probably still trying to find their legs, I will return in a month or two to give them another shot.