Photo by Chung Chow
At Bridgeport and Sexsmith roads, just around the corner from No. 3 Road, you can easily see the car wash on the corner.
What you can’t see is the tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant Shibuyatei.
Chef Takeo Sato runs a bargain-priced, yet high-end Japanese restaurant in this unassuming spot with good parking. It’s simple and clean.
The food is far from plain. Like a well-cut gown with simple lines, all the elegance of this establishment is in the food.
It’s freshly made simple food with fine ingredients and great technique.
Chef Sato says while even the famous, and expensive, Japanese restaurants half cook their chicken for teriyaki early in the day so it’s quick to do up when an order comes in, he sizzles each order from fresh. That surprised us because our lunches came quite quickly.
From what I and my colleagues consumed, the fresh cooking makes a noticeable difference.
The chicken was tender and juicy with the sauce not too salty and rich in flavour. The condiment that came with the bento box again was rich but in a different flavour.
The salad dressing, unlike any I had had before, was complex yet not overpowering.
Everything had different flavours without being weird.
Asked about his food, Chef Sato is clear that he creates depth of taste from careful cooking and great ingredients. He uses no MSG.
“Also,” says Chef Sato, “many restaurants use pork fat (lard) in their soups and noodles. It’s not healthy for you. I do not use pork fat in my food.”
For Gyoza, the Japanese-style pot-sticker or perogies, diners have options for fillings; meat, shrimp or large juicy scallops from the Japanese Island of Hokkaido, considered the premium scallops in the world of Japanese cooking. Chef Sato took us to his freezer to show us the small boxes of plump scallops flash frozen in Japan for maximum freshness.
After lunch, Chef Sato showed us a quick clip of a TV show with Anthony Bourdain and his equally famous Japanese counterpart. On the wall of the restaurant, is his highly favourable review, in Japanese, of Chef Sato’s work.
We also were treated to a quick clip from a famous live Japanese food review show. Again, Chef Sato wowed the critics. Having eaten at Shibuyatei, I can see why.
From the online reviews, it sounds like it might not be a great place to take children but, other than that, most are laudatory with one TripAdvisor reviewer saying: “The food is absolutely stunning. Authentic, No flavouring, colourings or MSG. Fresh tasty and by far the best meal we had. A total gem. When with (sic) visit Vancouver again we will get a cab to Richmond just eat here.”
This licensed venue accepts credit cards and cash. Eat in or take out.
Lunches at Shibuyatei are about $10 while suppers range from $11 to $14. For this high end quality, I would have expected to pay closer to the $30 to $40 range.