Saying Sayonara to Downtown Food

This post is part of my “Farewell, Downtown Vancouver” blog series in which I’ll be writing short reflections on certain aspects of my time downtown.

One thing I’m going to miss about working downtown is the food.

Now I’m certainly not a foodie (sorry Debbie and Megan). And the ONLY time I’ll take pictures of my food is to poke fun at people who do such a thing regularly (sorry Debbie and Megan…haha).

But I certainly appreciate a good meal.

The beautiful thing about working downtown is that there’s an abundance of food choices on every block. Craving pub food? No problem. Steak? Take your choice. Soup and salad?   Pick your spot. Not to mention the plethora of food courts and fast food joints.

There are certain limitations of course. First, I work for the Church so I’m not exactly rolling in dough. So unless I want to deprive Gail and the kids of essential needs, I can’t eat out at fancy places every day.

Second, I’m often limited by time – especially on the days I do my lunch time workout. I can’t really justify going out for a long lunch when I’ve just taken an hour and a bit to exercise. On these days, I will usually grab something quick and bring it back to the office.

A third factor is the location of our office. We’re at the corner of Robson and Cambie, basically at the end of Robson. There aren’t as many options at our end of Robson compared to a few blocks down closer to Burrard.

Thus, when I take into account one, two, or all three of these factors, there are certain places that have become my “go-to” places to eat.

And surprise, surprise…they are all Japanese restaurants.

There are three places that are within a couple blocks of our building. One is Ebi Ten where my favourite dish is the teriyaki chicken udon (no corn). Just two doors over is Roll Kitchen. My favourite dish there is their dynamite roll.   And across the street in the public library complex is the aptly-named Sushi Library. The main chef Henry knows that my roll of choice is the Crazy Roll – substituting salmon for tuna and no masago.

Stroll a couple of blocks further down Robson and you arrive at Japadog. Once I convinced myself that the restaurant name wasn’t racist, I quickly discovered the joy of the terimayo combo. With the butter shoyu fries.


Just recently, I’ve been going back to Kamei Royale. I hadn’t been there in about 10 years or so but it’s still pretty good.   Just as I remembered it.

On days where I have company and feel like getting more bang for my buck, I will go to all-you-can-eat (AYCE) restaurants. In my early years working for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, we’d make the drive out to Tanpopo in English Bay. We tried Shabusen on Burrard a few times as well, always mindful to beat the noon rush.

Then we found Toyama. I quickly became friends with the manager Eric and he would take care of us with free soft drinks at every meal. The food itself was just okay but a good value for the price.

The funny thing about AYCE places is that you never feel really good afterwards. Or maybe it’s just me.

But I often will eat a lot to ensure I’m getting my money’s worth, only to be lethargically dragging myself to the car afterwards.

Toyama closed down half a year ago and a new Japanese restaurant opened up in its place. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to check it out before our building moves.

However, yesterday I took the OYYAM staff to Shabusen for one last AYCE hurrah. While it wasn’t a Last Supper per se, we called it our Final Lunch.


I’m sure there are dozens of Japanese restaurants that I never tried during my 22 years working downtown. But you can only eat so much sushi haha.

There aren’t as many restaurants close to our new building. While I’m sure we’ll find some good places to go in short order, not many of them will be within walking distance.

Gail is happy about this as she wants me to bring lunch more often. I can see where she’s coming from; it will be a lot cheaper and probably healthier for me. And my lovely wife is an awesome cook.

But I already know where I can go for my Japanese food fix. Sushi Mura is a short five-minute drive away. Gail and I have been going there regularly for a couple of years now.

They’ll be getting to know me a lot better in the next few months.


A friendly Sushi Mura chef
A friendly Sushi Mura chef




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