Vancouver definitely has no shortage of Japanese restaurants, but just because there’s a Japanese sign outside the door doesn’t fool me. If I see fried rice or kimchee on the menu it automatically gets taken off my list. Rice for the sushi is too thick? Off the list. The toro has white slivers? Off the list. Their uni is a little bit fishy? Off the list. Sushi rolls are extremely massive? Off the list. Tuna and salmon sashimi aren’t fresh? Definitely off the list!
So if you ask me where I go for Japanese in Vancouver the list is actually very short. Shintaro, located in Steveston, is on my short list and is the only Japanese restaurant I will eat at in Richmond.
Last week, Karla said she had to have a meal at Shintaro before leaving so we went with Ama before taking her to the airport. Steveston is quite a drive from Yaletown so whenever I go to Richmond I try to eat at Shintaro if I’m not craving Chinese food.
Shintaro is a tiny place with the owner/chef whipping up Japanese comfort food and sushi singlehandedly. And just one waitress serving the room. The menu isn’t that extensive, nothing particularly unusual about the dishes, nothing you can’t find elsewhere. The only difference is, this chef does it right. Every single time. The fish he serves is only the freshest he can find and the food is always prepared with the pride you imagine a Japanese chef to have. And it comes through in all the dishes that are simply prepared but always delicious.
Now you may think I’ve oversold this place but it’s the careful attention to the small details that matter to me. The tiny cold bowls of gomae are as comforting as the steaming hot bowls of chicken udon. The prawn tempura is always lightly battered. The chopped scalloped sushi has large chunks of scallops and isn’t overpowered by mayo. These are the little things I appreciate in a good, traditional Japanese restaurant.
Many of our favourite dishes are only on the dinner menu, but the chef made an exception for us because Shintaro values customer service as much as they do their food quality. It also helps that my Aunt, who lives in Richmond, probably eats here a few times a week.
Thanks to her, we got to enjoy the Nasu Dengaku, baked eggplant topped with a sweet miso sauce. The eggplant is a delicious melting mess served piping hot. The meat is creamy and buttery and absolutely dreamy. I’ve had this dish at other places, but no one does it like Shintaro. I suggest you order more than one because your mouth won’t be able to get enough of it.
Call in advance to book a table because Shintaro only seats a few.
Where are your favourite Japanese restaurants?