VANCOUVER’S VIBRANT SUSHI SCENE OWES everything to the irrepressible Hidekazu Tojo. After immigrating here in 1971, he slowly convinced Canadians to eat raw fish and seaweed with his now-iconic California roll, wherein the rice is on the outside — and was very popular with his Hollywood clientele, hence the name. Although this origin story is contested, the Goodwill Ambassador for Japanese Cuisine (a title bestowed on him in 2016 by the Japanese government) most certainly invented the B.C. roll (utilizing barbecued salmon skin) and the Golden roll (wrapped in a delicate egg crepe). At 72, Tojo can still be found most nights behind the counter at his posh Kitsilano restaurant, serving loyal fans pricey omakase extravaganzas lavished with Japanese abalone and Osetra caviar. His stature accords him first-in-line preference from seafood suppliers, so the fish is always pristine. His creativity never ceases to delight (the Sakura menu is a must-try in spring). And a new cocktail program featuring excellent Japanese highballs has kept the experience on point.
A staple for Japanese food in Vancouver”
Photography by: Leila Kwok