Months ago, when I’d booked my flight to Vancouver, I knew that a couple of my close friends in London were also going to be in Vancouver at this time. We’d all grown up in Vancouver and somehow we all ended up in London. And when they heard that I’d be in Vancouver this Christmas-time, they both independently announced that surely we’d be heading to Shabusen for a meal together!
Shabusen? I knew the name but had never been. It’s a well-known all-you-can-eat Japanese chain in Vancouver though I’ve recently learned that all but this branch at Burrard have closed. It was at this downtown restaurant that we arranged to meet one lunchtime after Christmas. We checked boxes to order food, we ate the food that arrived, we gossiped – it was a fun lunch!
The only thing that was difficult to judge was how much food each order would contain. A portion of their tasty goma-ae, a sesame dressed spinach salad, was approximately a heaped tablespoon’s worth.
Sashimi (limit of 8 pieces per person) were very generous slices of salmon and tuna.
Tempura could be ordered by the piece and a number of vegetables were available.
Maki sushi and nigiri could be ordered by the piece. The ones with lettuce below are Alaska Roll (Vancouver has lots of unique rolls), which is a variant of the California Roll, with salmon in addition to the usual fillings.
Two pieces of chicken teriyaki turned out to be this: two whole cutlets, sliced up. We were expecting smaller pieces so these large ones surprised us!
One of the best things that day was the yakiniku (Korean-style barbecue) and you can see the size of each portion of marinated meat we received to grill at our table. It’s not a proper Korean place, of course, so there’s no lettuce to wrap your meat but we were fine with it just as it is. Spicy pork is the best of the lot, followed by the beef!
It really is a bargain here – only $15 per person for lunch for the AYCE including Korean barbecue option. It’s more expensive at dinner time but then there’s a longer menu from which to choose. Bookings are essential.
Shabusen Yakiniku House
202-755 Burrard St
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1X6
Because they’re insane, my friends then suggested we head to a relatively new French patisserie that opened up just around the corner from Shabusen. Apparently, we needed to have dessert and the AYCE deal didn’t include any sweets at lunch time. Inside Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe, there was plenty of seating (though finding a free table proved to be challenging) and one could order any of their patisserie or viennoiserie to eat in with coffee or tea.
I tried a Tart Cafe Creme which was a coffee custard tart topped with a bit too much Chantilly cream and a thick coffee caramel round. Patisserie sizes are very Canadian (read: humongous) and we certainly struggled. Prices were reasonable though, with an average cost of $5-6 for a pastry (value for money is a desirable trait here).
I was extremely surprised by the booziness of their Tiramisu; when they said that their sponge fingers were soaked with Kahlua, they really meant it!
Portion sizes are certainly healthy here but the cakes we tried were just alright and perhaps a bit too sweet overall.
Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe
1059 Alberni St