[Update : Wanoma izakaya is now closed ]
It's a sunny yet chilly Sunday evening and Wanoma Izakaya is still pretty empty at 6:30. Maybe it's because Wanoma Izakaya is yet to be discovered. Wanoma Izakaya is a new addition among the top izakayas in downtown Vancouver. It's been opened for about a month. Wanoma izakaya is located right beside, some say, the best Izakaya in town, Kingyo Izakaya. As a big fan of izakayas, my friend and I decided to try this new izakaya for dinner.
There was a big table of around 8 people dining inside, and another table with a guy who just finished his dinner and about to leave the restaurant. We were quickly seated by the server as soon as she noticed us coming in. To my surprise, all the employees in Wanoma are all women, including the chefs! It was pretty unusual to see female chefs in izakayas.
The gobo chips was presented beautifully and looked very appetizing. Wanoma's version of gobo chips consisted of fried burdock root and sugar toasted dried anchovies. You can taste sweetness and salt in this dish and they did not overwhelm on each other in term of seasoning which was really good. I really love how they fried the burdock roots into curly shaped chips.
Next dish was the minchidoria. Presentation-wise it looked like a lasagna. Minchidoria was a baked-beef of demi-glas sauce on spinach with rice of cream sauce. Big shock, it was very tasty. The cheese melted in our mouth, the beef was cooked perfectly, and the rice on the bottom was surprisingly moist. We both agreed that this dish was very flavorful !
The kushi-age came shortly after the minchidoria. It was our first time trying kushi-age. Kushi-age is a Japanese-style deep fried kabob. We ordered a pork and zucchini kushi-age. They came with two different sauces. One is a tonkatsu sauce and the other one was japanese mustard. Instead of using tempura batter, the kushi-age was deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs. We enjoyed this down-to-earth japanese snack. It would pair well with a beer. Too bad that Wanoma Izakaya has yet to obtain their liquor license.
The tebasaki ( chicken wings sprinkled with sea salt and lemon ) came in skewer form. The chicken wings were very tiny. The waitress told me that it usually came in three and since the chicken wings were so small, they gave me four. In my opinion, it's still small in size. Out of curiosity, I tried it right away as it was still hot and fresh from the kitchen. The chicken wings were astonishingly good! It was perfectly seasoned and the meat was very juicy. This is a really good example of when not to judge a book by its cover!
Last but not least was the Wanoma Pizza. The portion was pretty generous and the presentation was once again very appealing. The pizza was baked in mozzarella cheese sprinkled with toasted capers and it was served with a homemade salsa. A little warning: the salsa sauce was pretty spicy. We finished the pizza within minutes of it being served. It was really good, and the hot salsa was a great addition to the dishes overall flavour.
Overall this was a really enjoyable and satisfying dining experience. I highly recommended this new izakaya and I hope Vancouver fooddies will soon discover this little gem.