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paulbelWVanSince August 6, 20083 Reviews
Average Rating
4 (4)
  • Food4.5 (4.7)
  • Service4 (4)
  • Value4.5 (4.3)
  • Ambiance3 (3)


Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 Reviews Found
Cioppino’s1133 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
A Passionate Chef
Submitted Thursday, August 7, 2008 - 10:14pm [Dine in]

It's hard for me to review Cioppino's because I think that my love of Pino Posteraro may cloud my judgment. I only know a few chefs who seem truly born to the profession and deeply passionate about it beyond business. Pino is not only one of those, he's Italian and that's my heritage too.

You can spend a lot of money here. I can't afford to do more than glance at his wine list. My own experience here is of sometimes ordering off the menu and sometimes asking Pino to make something that inspires him. Pino's things are always more expensive, but I have to say I've generally liked them more.

Service is great. You get a feeling that everyone's family. Sort of the same as at Tojo's (but the service is better at Pino's). Fantastic pasta - don't neglect that dish just because you're at a fancy place.

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Vij's1480 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver
In a class of its own
Submitted Thursday, August 7, 2008 - 10:05pm [Dine in]

Vikram and his wife are inspired. Vik is wonderful in front of house and it is a shame when he's not there (generally only once a week). It's worth it to come early and order a drink at Rangoli next door while you wait with everyone else to get in (no reservations). Don't ask for a menu - have a conversation. I don't always like everything, but I'm always happy to taste what's going on.

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Tojo's Restaurant1133 W Broadway, Vancouver
Sit at the Bar; come more than once
Submitted Thursday, August 7, 2008 - 9:48pm [Dine in]

Every highly-rated and expensive restaurant suffers from the trepidation and expectations that diners set up in their minds before they go. For many those expectations become impossible to meet, and not matter what the experience, they feel cheated.

Tojo's is especially vulnerable to this because
1) It's "Japanese" and the expectation is that Japanese food is cheap.
2) The media coverage is truly amazing - and it's not because of his "PR Machine" - he doesn't have one. Truly: none. everyone comes to him.
3) Tojo's is not a typical "fancy" night out. Never was, never will be, in spite of the new, classier decor.

There are three truly exceptional passionate chefs in Vancouver: Vikram Vij (and his wife) are one (or two); Pino Posteraro is one; and Tojo is one. There are other very very good professional chefs (Hawksworth and others). But these three gentlemen are complete and total insane chefs. Not businessmen. Chefs. They live for food and for creativity. If you go to any of these, but let's talk about Tojo' here, go to taste the world through their sensibilities. Don't go to compare your favorite Japanese dishes. Don't go for a romantic candlelit date. Go to see and feel and taste what Tojo and a staff of totally dedicated superior souchefs have made out of what happens to be fresh and local and interesting today.

Do not order from the menu - how are you going to reach beyond what you already know? Do not sit at a table: enter into a conversation at the Omakase Bar. Don't keep looking at your wallet. If you went to Jean Georges in New York or Andy Danko in San Francisco, you wouldn't begrudge the prices. Tojo's is not a sushi place. Don't compare it to other sushi places. In Japan there are sushi places and places that specialize in cooked dishes. Tojo's does both superbly. That's very rare. Take the time to find out what he can offer you.

I've been eating at Tojo's various places (Maneki, Jinya and both Tojo's) regularly for more than 25 years. I can honestly say I've never had the same meal twice. If you truly want to experience what this passionate and obsessively creative chef can offer, put yourself in his hands, and come more than once. Learn the seasons. Learn the Vancouver climate. Learn to taste.

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