Hato Popo in Vancouver

wild sockeye salmonWe’ve only been in our new home city, Vancouver, for two weeks, but we’ve already become regulars at the new Japanese restaurant Hato Popo, located downtown on Robson St.

We ate dinner there our first night in the city. Exhausted, jet lagged and hungry, we sat down, hearing Guy Fieri’s voice in the background. “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” was on one of the two TVs in the nearly empty dining room; a comforting sound because I like to have cooking shows in the background when I putter around at home.

On our first visit, we ordered ramen, sashimi and a few rolls. I was impressed with the soft-boiled egg. It seemed to have been boiled in the broth so that the intense flavor of the broth was concentrated in the egg white. The wild BC sockeye salmon sashimi was excellent; buttery, melt in your mouth, and subtle but full of flavor.

The next two visits, we ordered sashimi and sushi plates. The quality of the fish was incredible. You’ve got to try the salmon, tuna and scallop, either as sashimi or on pressed rice. They’re so good, you’ll want to close your eyes and savor the oily, fresh, delicious fish.

This place is unassuming. The interior looks like any middle-of-the road Japanese joint–bamboo décor and small tables. But the sourcing of ingredients and the chef’s knife and plating skills are excellent. Working behind the counter, he exudes calm efficiency as he prepares dishes. This is a man who knows what he’s doing, and he’s proof that excellence can live in quiet corners.

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