Dan, which mean "warmth", is a neighborhood sushi joint offering up all the classics.
The restaurant is on a quiet commercial block near Macdonald, beside Modern Burger. It seems to be run by a Japanese husband and wife with the help of 2 other employees. Went on a weekday and they have a good local following, also saw Tojo sitting at the sushi bar one night. Tried the uni - from BC and tasted very fresh, Big Eye Tuna - very soft and red in colour, egg custard - don't know the japanese name but very delicate and creamy, pine mushroom udon - not really udon as more like thai pho noodles, baked seafood motyaki - very tasty and not overly creamy and smothered in sauce, and scallop roll - pretty basic but done perfectly with the right amount of rice. Overall it's known for their sashimi and sushi but they have a good cooked food menu that does the basic japanese food properly. Price is on the high side but quality is very high as well. Good service with plate changes and quick clearance.
When we arrived at Dan, there was one other table of 4. But because one side of the restaurant was set up for a large group (who never showed up the whole time we were there - 1.5 hrs), we had to choose between being seated upstairs or at the bar. Upstairs was stifling, stifling hot and the bar wasn't much better, but we chose the bar.
We had wakame salad, cali. roll, sashimi, sushi, halibut & yam tempura, veg. tempura, egg plant, grilled smelt, chicken karaage, and duck breast. We ordered the food in waves so the salad came first, then the raw fish, then the grilled, then the fried. Service was fast, efficient, friendly, and competent.
Every order we had was better than average. Particularly, the roll had a very thin layer of rice on the outside, making it a nice, delicate dish, instead of the giant fists of rice on less refined rolls around the city. The tempura was done with barely any batter around it, but just enough to protect the inside. The chefs have skill, and each plate was beautiful and done with the right proportion of ingredients.
As much as all the dishes were better than your average, none were a best example. None of them inspired awe or surprise, and there were no moments of, "Wow, is this ever good!" I believe Dan is trying to maintain sophistication through simplicity, which is a foundation of Japanese cuisine; but IMHO, you still need to have a twist. The seasoning of the food was not there... the chicken karaage was just fried chicken - nothing more, nothing less. It came with Japanese mayo for a dip. For $10. The salad was greens and a vinaigrette. Period. No seasoning, no other vegetables than arugula. For every dish, the contrasting balance element was missing. You need acid to offset fat, for example. You need sharp to offset subtle, salt with sweet, piquant with bland, and so on. The food had no contrasts, and was utterly monotonous.
So with all due respect to another poster who compared this place to more high-end, refined cuisines, I'm afraid the style of food relegates Dan to nothing more than a good neighbourhood Japanese restaurant. They charge high-end prices, mind you, so the value is just not there.
The dining space is nicely decorated, but when we were in, it was stifling hot and stuffy. We were not comfortable. This is why I gave the ambience rating a 2.
I want to like Dan. But I don't.
After seeing the number of (mostly) positive reviews Dan has received, the girlfriend and I – both sushi fanatics – decided that we had to go and try the place out for ourselves. And so we did, about a week ago.
The first thing we noticed, as soon as we stepped inside, was the size of the restaurant. Dan isn’t a big place at all – more of a neighbourhood Japanese bistro than your typical sushi joint. Still, it’s comfortable inside, stylishly decorated, and very, very clean. The second floor, where the only table I was able to reserve was located, unfortunately wasn’t as inviting (and is the reason they get a 3 rather than a 4 for ambiance). For some reason, a large, heavy drape completely blocked the view from the balcony to the main floor below. With only two tables up there, and not a lot of floor space, it made us feel like we were dining in some forgotten corner of the restaurant. Fortunately, the servers, who were exceedingly friendly and polite, came around regularly, which helped dispel (somewhat) the isolated, claustrophobic vibe.
As for the food, overall we were pleased with the quality. We ordered four mains – agedashi tofu, chicken karaage, saikyo yaki (grilled sable fish) and assorted tempura. Of these, our favourite was the sable fish. It was beautiful – a little smoky, a little sweet, a little savoury - all in balance. The other mains were good as well. Both the tofu and chicken karaage came with sauces that were delicious. The tempura, though, struck me as a little unusual. It had a heavier batter coating, kind of like on a fish stick, instead of being light with a crispy panko breading. I don’t know if that made it more or less authentically Japanese. Whatever, the case, it was still alright, although certainly different. In addition to these dishes, we also ordered three types of sushi – wild salmon, tuna toro, and ebi. All were very good, with the wild salmon being among the freshest tasting I’ve had in a while.
The one area where Dan fell below expectations was value. Their prices were easily among the highest I’ve paid for Japanese in Vancouver in a long time. Especially for the sushi items – each piece of nigiri was only about the size of my thumb, and yet cost twice as much as those from other sushi places I frequent. While it’s reasonable to charge a premium for quality, theirs seemed a little much, especially in conjunction with the smaller portions. Prices for the mains weren’t nearly as bad (except for the sable fish, although that was so good it might be worth it), but still tended towards the higher side.
When we finally left Dan, we had conflicted feelings about the restaurant. For food quality and service, it scored high marks. But for value, it was a bit of a letdown. Ultimately, we’ll probably go back again, although not in the near future, and probably only on special occasions. And only if we can get a main floor table.
Finally made it to Dan Japanese resteraunt (note that the number listed for this is wrong, but the number listed for DAN JAPANESE is correct).
When we came in there werent that many people there and for some odd reason we were seated upstairs. This turned out to be fatal from a service and ambience perspective. It was hotter upstairs so we were getting real tired. What also made us tired is the fact that they served us one dish at a time. Now every dish was simply delicious. But first we got the spinach and sesame, then the tofu, then the edamame, then the unbeatable grilled meat with japanese peppercorn, then the sushi. I think this cant be right. We also waited very long periods of time between these small dishes.
I ordered a second helping of the meat and sushi, but again, they brought it one at a time. At this point we asked them to please bring the sushi up asap, and the desert menu. I had the yuza sorbet which was tasty. Well maybe this is authentic japanese to serve one dish at a time, but when youre hungry and sitting alone upstairs for no good reason as there were empty 2 seat tables downstairs the whole time we were there, then it doesnt help you enjoy the resteraunt.
I urge the owners to explain to their patrons that they can choose to get one dish at a time, or have it come together.
bottom line, if you go in and know this, then expect absolutely delicious food.
An incredible restaurant. It is unfortunate that the Dine Here listing currently describes it as "a neighborhood sushi joint", which would be like describing Fuel as "a typical west coast eatery" or something.
Having made a 3 week trip through Japan recently, Dan is definitely the restaurant in Vancouver that comes closest to the most enjoyable meals we had in Japan. What makes this kind of Japanese food great is the emphasis on bringing out the character of the ingredients.
According to their website, their goal is to serve up "simple dishes derived from traditional japanese recipes." I would say that they hit it pretty spot on. Every dish is creative, well thought out, and inspired. This is Kyoto style culinary magic.
There is a lot to explore on the menu, and the specials menu is usually 10 or so appealing items. My personal favorite item on the menu is the ika mentai Isobe age, which is an exquisite combination of squid, cod roe, green beans and shiso in a tempura coated roll. The mix of flavors and textures is out of this world. Other favorites are the miso grilled eggplant (very savory) and the tuna chili sashimi (very light and refreshing). They do a great job with the grilled items, which are nicely washed down with the R&B ales.
The service is friendly. It always seems to be the same small staff, including the owner Ken cooking with a younger chef in the open kitchen, and Ken's wife and another woman serving. We have always had prompt, attentive and friendly service.
The ambiance is low key and relaxing. There is a bar in front of the open kitchen, so if you want to chat with the cooks, go for that.
We were craving to go back to Dan for the second time. The previous experience there a while ago was amazing.
I will call this a sushi restaurant although the chef knows very well of his sushi. It is more like a modernized traditional Jap, which they had a lot of traditional items. Savoy egg custard, tempura, and grills are great traditional items that you cannot find other places.
The second time around was not as good as the first time because service and food were a bit slow. We tried the chef’s tasting menu and found it a bit small and lack of varieties. We had to order more to fill us up. Quit a few of the items that is on the special menu were gone, and there aren’t many choice left.
Generally, I would go back Dan with my Jap girlfriends when we are craving for some taste of homeland.
Fantastic sushi prepared with fresh ingredients. The moderne open kitchen adds something to the ambiance that traditional open sushi kitchens lack. Combining traditional japanese flavours + a little west coast makes for an enjoyable dining experience. The oysters which were on special were some of the freshest tasting I've had in a while. The prices for what you get are extremely reasonable to my mind. The chef was extremely friendly and keen to explain the flavours of all the dishes we sampled, all in all a wonderful evening.
Have been to various (high/medium end) Japanese restaurants throughout Vancouver. Dan is truly a amazing place. It is not a trendy/hip place, but, it is authentically delicious. Everything is prepared with so much care. The owner is sooo passionate and this reflects upon his food. When going, it is always good to try the daily specials, as they are usually VERY cool/good. Some favourites include:
-The Sashimi is sooo fresh and good
-The Black Cod
But, honestly everything is good!!!
If you can appreciate the details that distinguish good sushi from mediocre sushi including temperature of the rice and fish and care taken to roll sushi properly, than you won't think twice about paying just a bit more than other sushi restaurants.
Great menu, excellent food, good service, and a cute atmosphere. And of course, your meal is served with good quality green tea vs. the watered down, bitter, or bad after taste green tea you'll find at cheaper joints. Another good way to gauge the quality of a Japanese restaurant.
If you are looking for excellent quality and authentic Japanese fair, Dan is the perfect choice for you. I know I'll be back.
I dont know who considered this restaurant as authentic sushi. My friend and I were following the recommendations of dinehere and decided to give this place a try. The variety was very limited and the fish was extremely tough. Most of the dishes were topped with the same ponzu sauce, which made the whole meal taste the same. I would not recommend this restaurant as there are many others that offer better quality.
We just absolutely can't stay away from Dan restaurant. I would describe the food as Japanes tapas which blends traditional Japanese and contemporary themes.
My favourites absolute favourite dish is the Tuna Chili Sashimi which is served with masago and avocado. Make sure to try the daily specials because they are creative and often taking advantage of the fresh local ingredients of the season.
The restaurant is very intimate and cozy and the staff are very friendly. A great neighbourhood find.
I can assure you that this is an authentic Japanese restaurant. I am from Japan and eat (almost) every Japanese restaurants in Vancouver downtown and Kits areas. Half of them are not authentic, which is OK, if that's what you're looking for.
The price, service, taste, and ambiance are all outstanding, a bit short of "WOW".
I would highly recommend this place for special occastions. ($80~$100 for two).
I went today (April 5th, 2008) at 9.00pm with my wife after reading the reviews here and I must say, I am very impressed with Chef Ken and his crew. The service is excellent, the food is excellent and the ambience is excellent.
We ordered the Miso soup, assorted Sashimi, the thin Udon (I cannot remember the Japanese name of it but Chef Ken told me it is imported from Japan), the assorted Tempura and two deserts that was recommended by Chef Ken.
Here's a breakdown of our gourmet paired with the soothing music of Stacey Kent:
Miso Soup: Full natural flavor of Miso soup not found in other restaurants. This is the first Miso soup that my wife and I had that does not have a bad after taste. The tofu is freshly cut and added into the soup.
Special thin udon: This is in my opinion the best udon we have ever tasted in our life. The noodles are not only smooth but when you slurp it along with the excellent soup, you feel like you are in heaven.
Assorted Sashimi: Okay, with Red Tuna & Sockeye Salmon in the list, what can I say? We skipped the scallops because my wife is not a scallop sashimi fan.
Assorted Tempura: Comes with Prawns and Vegetable. The younger chef made these really delicious tempura with a creative edge to the prawns which I won't spoil it here.
Desert: Chef Ken highly recommended two deserts to us. One was green tea ice cream with chocolate cake, and creme caramel. My wife is a desert person and she holds high standards and this two passed with flying colours. I looked at my wife as she took the first scoop of creme caramel and she looked like she was having in heaven...(I am serious..) But compliments to Chef Ken's wife who spent all the effort to make the deserts taste this good.
Total bill came to $70 after tips and in my opinion, best $70 spent on good japanese food.
Their number is 604 677 6930. I highly recommend it. We live in Burnaby but we will be back again very very soon.
I've eaten at Dan three times now. Keep meaning to write a review and after tonight's meal I'd be remiss if I didn't now. Let me start by saying my partner says tonight's was the best meal he's ever eaten. I loved it too.
Started with Rapini in Soy Broth, accompanied by a small dab of fiery mustard. Fresh and light. Next we had the Halibut and Yam Tempura--this is quite simply the best tempura in Vancouver. The batter was pale and light as air, and the halibut was cooked to perfection. It was accompanied by homemade mayonnaise and ponzu, and was so outstanding we requested a second order as soon as we were done the first. Then a standard Dynamite Roll, elevated again by the perfection of the tempura batter and freshness of the ingredients. The meal also included Grilled Miso Sablefish--the skin was like candy--served with potato cubes with celery and mustard seed, Grilled Salmon Neck with grated daikon, and a Molten Chocolate Cake with Green Tea Ice Cream. Everything was delicious.
This is not your standard sushi restaurant; there's a level of care and attention to ingredients and ambience that set it apart. Tonight the owner spent several minutes explaining the varieties of Sake on offer, and service in general is always warm and knowledgeable.
Our bill was $113, including two large sake, a beer a single malt whisky, and dessert. My partner is a distance runner who eats *a lot*, so assume the average couple would come in well under this for dinner for two.
Couldn't recommend it more.