Aki features a menu of Japanese cuisine for lunch and dinner.
We hadn’t been to Aki for awhile. Hubby called to make reservations for Sunday. We drove downtown, found a parking spot and plugged $5.00 in the meter. We walked to where Aki on Thurlow only to discover that it was no longer there. We called Aki on our cell phone and we were told that they had moved to 1368 W. Pender. Why they didn’t tell us when we made reservations is beyond me. Apparently they moved on May 1 so when someone calls in for a reservation the first thing they should mention is that they’ve moved.
The new premises are very modern and it definitely has lost the charm that Aki on Thurlow used to have. The tatami rooms are gone now and the wait staff are not as good as they used to be at the old location. We had to continually ask for tea to be topped up and additional rice etc. There was no quality check during the meal. Dishes were just dropped off and eye contact and conversation was kept to a bare minimum.
I’ve noticed that the size of the dishes are also smaller than they used to be. We had from the Robata, beef short ribs (very good) and black cod. The black cod was very good but at $11.50 I expected more that 2 oz. of meat. Definitely not good value and not worth the money. We also ordered, Chicken Teriyaki (smaller order than at the old location) and assorted tempura (the order only had 3 shrimp, it used to have 5)
The food is still good but between the cold sterile ambiance and the small servings now it is not as good as it used to be.
We hit this place on a tip from some Japanese businessmen who came over. He said they always go to Aki's. Really? Okay, I guess it's worth a shot. Especially since it has been around so long, I guess it must have something going for it.
First, off, it was located downstairs. Below ground. This is a good sign! Most of the time in Japan, this is where we go to have a good time. Then we headed in. It was like we'd been transported half a world away. I guess the age of the place helps. It is not run down at all, but you can tell it's been around. Like many places in Japan.
And it was oh so busy, chock full of ... well, Japanese patrons.
There's a sushi bar, a robata guy, everything. You can't miss here, for sure you'll have something you like. The menu bore that out. There's a little bit of everything from which we ordered a reasonable sampling.
Yeah, the service was pretty good, prompt, fairly attentive and professional, not like many of those pop-up sushi joints.
The food, as I noted, solid. Nothing blow-me-away level, but I could see why the Japanese business guys come here. It's just like "home". This is one of those places where the food is decent, quite good actually, but the atmosphere just pulls it over the top. Recommended for decent eats with a good vibe.
I was lucky enough to be invited for lunch here by an old friend. They offer a few daily lunch specials and I got a sushi combo, their cooked and grilled stuff especially looked good to. Has hints of "Japanese salarymen" about it as a place where men gather after work to drink while loosening their ties. Apparently this place is pretty old school and run by Japanese. The food is more homestyle and also has a few izakaya type dishes. A gem and even though it's located near Samba this place has it's own identity with a cool, smokey, underground vibe going on. My sushi was yummy, and I really liked this place, I will be returning to try the dinner menu. This place has a solid clientele so reservations are recommended. Not sure why the some other reviewers didn't like this place it's authentic and reasonably priced for a downtown Japanese joint. The portions were fair as well.
In DOWNTOWN Vancouver, there's nothing that comes close to how authentic this place is. Tojo's is not downtown. I discovered this gem thanks to my spouse who brought me here for dinner before a movie. A sign on the outside says they've been around 1963?! Wow, that spoke volumes. Anyhoo, from the get go, I was impressed, we made reservation half hour before dinner and it was accepted and honoured. Tea, menus and hot towels were brought to us immediately. The menu was exhaustive, everything is on here which only mean one thing in my mind, can they do everything well? I decided to go for their Ten Zaru Soba and some sashimi. It was excellent, fresh and the tempura light, the batter was not your typical heavy stuff. The prices mind you were not cheap, the rent has to be expensive hence the prices. But the quality and quantity warrants the price. I returned again yesterday with a co-worker for some noodles, toro sashimi and robata and once again, impressed! The cod robata was marinated and grilled perfectly. It was tender like butter! The service was prompt and attentive despite the restaurant was full. The ambiance is traditional Japanese and I felt very comfortable during my dining experience. I cannot wait to return to try out the rest of their robata stuff. I cannot believe there's only so few reviews about this place becos OMG, they are so good!
I've been to this place a few times with my friend. He introduced me to the Black Cod box set. The one time we sat at the bar facing the BBQ, we watched how they cooked the Black Cod. We've always enjoyed it, but were disappointed (we suspect) to see them microwave the Black Cod to ensure it's cooked through. Usually if the Black Cod is BBQ thoroughly, the skin is crispy, but if it's nuked, then the skin is soggy.
It's a great flavoured dish, but because we saw how he cooked it, the "shine" was off.
I recommend not to sit at the bar unless you want to return to work smelling like BBQ. Ventilation around that area was not strong enough.
But the rest of the food is good. It's busy so reservations are recommended.
The grilled cod is my favorite item although the wait can be 15mins as they grill it on the spot.
The service is always pleasant and they sometimes can be crowded. It has the feel of a secret place as it's not located on ground level.
For a restaurant in DT, the prices are not fancy expensive and a few dollars cheaper than Kamei Royale (1030 West georgia)
The review below (Don't Go) is not accurate! Aki's food is quite good! And, I'm a big fan. There is a reason it's the oldest Japanese restaurant in town. This restaurant doesn't pretend to be a Tojo's. Rather, it's geared towards those who seek great quality and authentic Japanese fair across a broad range of foods, ie. sushi, robata, tempura, etc. at a fairly reasonable price (although not cheap) in a simple setting. They have a daily menu that is comparable to what you would find at a siimilar restaurant in Tokyo--ask all the Japanese salarymen that eat there!
Yes, other places may have more of a sushi offering, but no restaurant can beat Aki's in terms of overall quality and breadth of offering at those prices--all other restaurants in this segmemt (ie. Koji, etc.) have closed shop. And Aki's chef's are Japanese!
In short, if you're seeking trendy, cool, Japanese don't go there. If you want a solid traditional, down-to-earth, Japanese restaurant, it's worth checking out.
Food is prepared with fresh ingredients and is absolutely delicious. I actually think the price has been set a bit low (hope the owner of the restaurant is not reading this) for the excellent food they serve. The chefs at the sushi bar and the grill are extremely friendly, same as the waitresses. You can tell they love what they do and this attitude is reflected in the food they prepare. The setting is cozy and warm, and you feel like you're having meals in a traditional Japanese village. The place is not pretentious, is utmost earnest, just like the food they serve. Try the lunch set with grilled fish that comes with pickle, rice, and soup. The udon and rice ball combo served for lunch is a great deal, not to mention the nabeyaki udon noodle soup is one of the best I've had. I tried the grilled shitake mushroom which came out surprisingly tender and juicy. This place never lets me down.
Came here last night with friends for dinner before a movie. It had be a while since we last dined here and we were pleased to know the quality remained consistent. Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to try different things so we are definitely returning for more.
Food: Assorted Sashimi, Assorted Sushi, California Roll, Negitoro Roll, Chopped Scallop Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll and Grilled Black Cod. They are known for their Black Cod, which was grilled to perfection and delicious but my only complaint is that there were a lot of bones so one had to be careful! Everything tasted fresh, sashimi and sushi portions were decen . The nori was fresh not sticky or chewy. Everything looked and tasted good - no surprises, no fusion, just simple well prepared sushi.
Service: Reservations are accepted and we were seated immediately upon arrival. Attentive and friendly. Servers topped up our tea regularly. Black cod was the first to arrive and it arrived very quickly. The sushi and sashimi took a lot longer that we expected. When we inquired after our order, the servers were quick to respond and the rest of the items followed shortly after.
Value: Prices are comparable to most Japanese restaurants and a bit pricier than the plethora of hole-in-the-wall sushi joints around downtown Vancouver (and there are alot!) but excellent value considering quality of the food, service and overall pleasant experience.
Ambiance: Decor is traditional Japanese - nothing fancy or edgy - and definitely not pretentious. Focus is clearly on the food, not appearances. Chefs are Japanese and so are the servers. Majority of diners are also Japanese. Not noisy but they do get busy and there was a queue when we left.
Aki is located downtown and they has always served consistently good food and fast service. I love their grilled fish, sushi and udons. I have never been disappointed by them. Prices are very reasonable for downtown. They have a loyal following of customers. I highly recommend Aki Japanese Restaurant.
Not our first time, but we went to this restaurant on a Friday night after work. I already knew what I wanted beforehand so it didn't take too long to make our dinner selections. We both ended up ordering Chirashi Sushi which came with the usual ingredients (tuna, salmon, snapper, octopus, squid, egg, fish roe, etc.). Nice presentation! It was delicious, and frankly, it's as good as you can get it outside of Japan without having to travel. We also noticed two different couples around our table ordered Chirashi's! When we left, the only thing we regretted was not ordering their coffee jelly.
Before I get started: do...not...order...the...yamaimo (sticky yam).
I have always loved Japanese food; partly due to the fact that the compartmentalized, fastidious preparation and presentation of Japanese cuisine suits my obsessive compulsive tendencies, and partly due to the wide variety of flavours and textures available. There is such diversity and complexity in this cuisine that I religiously select at least one unfamiliar item from every Japanese restuarant that I patronize. I saw that Aki had a "yam and egg" appetizer, which sounded pleasant enough, so I ordered it. I (we) also ordered the beef tataki, hamachi nigiri and the agedashi tofu.
Everything was prepared with a home-cooked feel and was thoroughly enjoyed...BUT the "yam and egg" appy was the most disturbing, unappealing, mucusy dish I have ever consumed. When it arrived - with a raw egg casually lounging atop its pale, slimy constitution - my companion and I just sat and stared at it, in shock. We didn't know what to do, so we called our waitress over and she whisked our sticky yam with soya and wasabi, and brought us some rice to eat it with. Laughing at our polite attempts to ingest this supposedly "wholesome" dish, our waitress explained that yamaimo is an oldschool comfort food, like congee...or jook...or bread pudding. This poor choice seemed far from wholesome OR comforting.
I will return to Aki, for sure...and I will never eat yamaimo again, for sure!
This local Japanese restaurant has been around for a number of years. It is hidden away downstairs on Thurlow near Fantacity Karaoke and Samba Brazilian resto. Lunch time attracts the local business crowd and often has lunch special combos, my fav is the black cod meal - probably the best in Vancouver the way it's grilled (includes rice, miso soup, and potato salad) and kaki furii (deep fried oysters with rice). Ensure you make a reso the day of or atleast a day ahead.
For dinner, many of the lunch menu items are also offered. My all time favourite is the robata chicken skin lightly salted. Been many times for both lunch and dinner.
All staff are Japanese speaking which make the experience even better if you like the ambiance to be authentic and traditional! If you want traditional Japanese, robata / bento style type of food (not izakaya) come to Aki. Highly recommended!
Aki has been around for a while, and I have been going here consistently as a regular. It is a great mixture of izakaya/robata without being too modern.
Come here for a solid meal with generous portions during lunch times. Their ika, hokki and salmon are very fresh. Their robata is also worthy. However, I always wonder why their miso soup is so bland and deprived of solids. Despite this I will continue to be a regular here.
I'm a frequent patron of this restaurant. Been going there for the past 10 years. The oysters are amazing. The daikon and their shoyu(?) based sauce with the creamy, milky oysters are heavenly.
Try their salmon yukke. Diced salmon sashimi mixed with onions, seasoned, and you eat it in lettuce wraps. Very unique.
Their sushi, to me, is mediocre. But try their special California rolls (can't remember what they call it). They make California rolls with REAL crab meat, which is a rarity in sushi restaurants.
Their order of assorted tempura is HUGE, and can feed four people. It's not fun for two people to stuff down all that tempura...
Their salmon belly and yellow tail hamachi are pricey, but that's because it's well worth the money! Salmon belly is rich and fatty and melts right in your mouth. The best grade sashimi I've tried. The hamachi is just as amazing. Try them, and you'll appreciate the difference between top quality sashimi you find there and Japanese buffets. You don't have to be a sashimi lover to taste the differences.
Their grill section is always busy, hence the constant smoky atmosphere on the weekends. I like their grilled conch, which is cooked in sake!! Once you pick out the chopped up conch meat, you can drink the sake in the shell! More the merrier! I've had some misses on grilled fish heads. 2 out of 10 times, the fish did not taste very fresh. But that's jut me. Grilled fish are the most popular at Aki.
I would not recommend this restaurant for family with young children.
There simply just isn't enough space; it can be loud; people drink; smokey environment etc.
But again, no restaurant is perfect. Aki is still my favorite Japanese restaurant in Vancouver. I highly recommend it.
One last thing. Make your reservations on the weekends.
Walking into this restaurant is like being in Japan. It’s really a very beautiful, slightly traditional looking restaurant. A friend brought me by for lunch, and I’ve been back several. The lunch sets are a good value. I’ve tried the sashimi, and it was fresh enough, but nothing spectacular. I think the grilled food is the star. I’ve had the grilled mackerel and grilled cod. Both were delicious. I haven’t strayed from the fish so far, but I wouldn’t mind trying some chicken or beef next time. I found the service to be quite good, we always have reservations and are seated immediately. Our food comes quickly, and we’ve never a problem. Definitely an enjoyable experience.
Aki is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants. My cousin introduced me to here a couple of years ago, and I've been going back ever since. It's best to go to Aki for its cooked/grilled food. My favourites include Nabeyaki Udon (smooth, nicely chewy udon with good broth), yakitori with sauce, grilled black cod, and their Lunch Box A (includes short ribs, chicken karaage, sashimi, shrimp sunomono, rice and miso soup, all for a reasonable price). Most of their grilled items are very tasty, although they only list the grilled items on their dinner menu. The food is quite authentic, as confirmed by my Japanese friend. However, while the cooked food is excellent, I find the sushi is only so-so, despite the seafood being fresh.
Price range is reasonable for downtown. Reservations are always accepted, and I would recommend it if you're going for lunch and want to get out within an hour. The place is underground and quite old, so don't expect any fancy interior design. And by night time, the grill makes certain parts of the restaurant fairly smokey. But the excellent food more than makes up for these points. Highly recommended.
Their black cod is a must try for lunch special,
comes down to around 15.50 after HST and tips during lunch time.
The blackcod is extremely tender and i think they cure it for a few days before grilling it, it has a little bit of a "salted fish" smell to it. Nevertheless, the fish is tender, sweet and has a good sweet aftertaste. The lunch combo comes with well made miso soup that is not too salty and some traditional japanese pickles and a garlic mashed potato salad. The highlight is the grilled blackcod.
You can see the chef grilling it on the robata and spraying either oil or water onto the fish every once a while.
Went here during the Olympic rush on a Thursday night pretty late in the evening.
- Nice atmsophere (dark wood furnishings, japanese deco, clean washrooms)
- Staff speak Japanese
- Large menu with many authentic Japanese dishes not commonly found in Vancouver
- Lots of dining space = very little wait time
- Took a long time to find waitress to order/get bill etc.
- Food came out at random intervals (although this is common in Asian restaurants) that had three out of four in my party eating with the last person waiting a long time for their order
- Waitresses are Japanese, but this means that their English isn't great, so it's hard to communicate with them
- Maybe it was because of the Olympics, but the waitresses seemed more focused on helping the 'tourist-y' looking customers
- Two of our party got tea/table settings and we had to flag down the waitress much later to get another two sets
- Prices a little higher than most Japanese places of this type in Vancouver
The food was pretty good despite service issues. Two of my party had different types of udon - which arrived piping hot with plenty of ingredients and was eaten quickly and happily. I had the katsu-curry, which arrived on a big plate with plenty of rice, curry (with large chucks of beef in it) and deep-fried katsu. My only complaint with the katsu-curry was it was a bit salty and came lukewarm. The last order in my group, a chirashi-don, came quite a while after the rest of the group's dishes but was very prettily presented with many different types of sashimi. Only complaint with this dish was that it was on a small side and the person who ordered it didn't feel like it was work the $16+ price tag.
When we first entered the resteraunt the girl in the front automatically brought us to the floor up even thou front wasn't full. I asked if there is a difference between the two sections she said no. At first everything seems to be fine, we were seated and shortly after some girl came to take our orders but didnt speak English. I ordered a salad to start and I asked if it came fresh or if it was more ready made. I was assured it was fresh this was $12.00. Next I asked if they make their own lobster or was pre prepared they said they make their own lobster $32.00. Lastly we ordered their so called award winning seafood platter, which came in 3 sizes, single serving for 40.00, for 2 for $65.00. We ordered the platter for two at $65.00. When the food came, EVERYTHING WAS COLD. The fish were white, chared and cracked. The soup was luke warm. Even red fish was cold. This is a place I highly do not recommend to eat unless you are looking to pay high prices, for cold food and waitresses that ignore you after being asked is everything okay cause they just don't want to hear it or because they dont understand you.