start with a bowl

Shizen Ya

Eating my way through Vancouver – Part 2: Shizen Ya

While my Japadog experience was overall awesome, I made one crucial error.  I ate it at 3pm Vancouver time.  I continue to blame Air Canada for this.  At 6pm it was time to go for dinner and I was feeling pretty stuffed, but I took one for the team and went in search of sushi.  With the bounty of fresh fish available on the west coast I anticipated lots of raw fish on my trip and I was never disappointed with what appeared on my plate.

Feeling a little tired from the trip, stuffed from the hot dog, and knowing that tomorrow was a big work day we looked for a sushi restaurant close to our hotel.  We found Shizen Ya. Google told us that Shizen Ya is proud to be the first natural food Japanese restaurant chain in North America which serves sushi with only brown rice, and salad with organic vegetables. Sounded delicious. A short walk later we were there. 

I came to eat sushi later in life.  Growing up in Ontario in a very meat and potatoes household, the idea of eating raw fish seemed disgusting.  It wasn’t until my 30s that I began to eat sushi and even then I stuck to California rolls for quite a while.  While I’ve grown to enjoy the fresh cool flavour of sushi I have never felt love for sushi.  All of that changed last week.

At Shizen Ya I was served fish that melted in my mouth.  Perfectly seasoned and balanced rolls that were filled with flavour.  A dish is only as good as its ingredients.  I’ve always believed that, but sometimes a budget forces you to pick cost over quality. Or ambition pushes you to make something unusual and you have to hunt for uncommon ingredients. Being in a location where the fish was so fresh and more cost effective made for an amazing experience.  I noticed in Vancouver that the ‘Eat Local’ movement is fairly strong and it made me rethink how local and seasonal I am in my shopping.  I think I do well in summer making pies with whatever fruit has just arrived at the market, but I don’t usually think about my proteins in quite the same way.

Once I was having a dinner party and I wanted to make Bouillabaisse.  In January.  Mastering the Art of French Cooking gave me a great recipe with suggestions of which fish to buy.  It suggested I buy what was in season and that it shouldn’t cost too much.  Right…if you’re shopping in France, that is.  In Ontario in December I walked out of the fish monger’s having paid $200 for some moderately fresh and some previously frozen fish and worried whether I even had enough. I was not buying local and not thinking seasonally.  While everyone was pleased with my Bouillabaisse, I had obliterated my January grocery budget and wasn’t super pleased with the results. 

Eating at Shizen Ya drove the point home.  Buy what is fresh, seasonal, and local.  The results are better and overall it should be more cost effective.

While I probably won’t be making sushi at home any time soon, I want to recreate that feeling of delicate fish melting in my mouth.  I’m not yet sure how I am going to accomplish this, but I am definitely on a mission.

Shizen Ya, I left your restaurant very inspired.


Amy • December 18, 2015

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