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VanVan Izakaya Vancouver | Robson Street Japanese Tapas

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VanVan Izakaya is a Japanese tapas restaurant on Robson Street. Alternatively, they are also called Robson Sakaba Vanvan. Sakaba is translated into “bar” in Japanese. We are unsure of why the choice of having two names. Really, it gets slightly confusing.


We were invited by ChineseBites along with few fellow bloggers for menu tasting at VanVan Izakaya.

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There is a good variety of sushi, deep fried, grilled items on the menu. The menu items are decent sized. However the execution of the food can be inconsistent and at best mediocre; mainly depending on how busy the restaurant gets.

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Takowasa 3.80: Raw octopus with wasabi and served with seaweed.

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Beef carpaccio 9.80:  with mayo, balsamic vinaigrette and cheese. Thinly sliced raw beef served with few green leafs. The beef was moist and tender.

Russian Roulette Takoyaki 6.80: one of the five balls is filled with super wasabi instead of octopus. You never which mystery ball you will get. Although a fun interactive element to eating this dish, I would hate to be the one with the wasabi bomb!

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Beef Short Rib 9.80: served on a hot plate with garlic soy dipping sauce. The flavoring had a good mixture of sweet and savory. The meat itself was a bit chewy.

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Pork Jowl 8.80: with Japanese citrus sauce. I quite liked this dish. The pork jowls were pretty meaty, moist and tender. I also quite enjoyed the good sear it had. The squeeze of lemon was a good contrast to the fatty meat.

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Chicken Karaage 6.80: Who doesn’t like fried chicken? Made with large pieces of dark meat, the chicken was juicy! It was seasoned well and I didn’t even need to side of mayo. Just squeeze a bit of lemon juice and you are good to go!

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Sashimi: We ordered full orders of each sashimi available. Each dish ranges between 7.80 to 8.80 each. Albacore tuna, Atlantic salmon, scallops and octopus. There was also marinated makerel. I liked the saba the best next to the hotate scallops. Some of the sashimi pieces were poorly cut – jagged and not with a fine edge.

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Battered Prawns 8.80: Ebi may with garlic chili mayo. I didn’t like the heavy battered prawns. It was not crunchy, but rather soggy and I much preferred to completely remove the battered skin. The chili oil drizzle onto was spicy of course. But underneath there was a smear of balsamic sauce which was quite unnecessary. I wouldn’t order this again.

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Curry Poutine 6.80: Poutine fries with Japanese curry and melted mozzarella. The fries were not crispy likely frozen and probably was not fresh cut.

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Salmon Yukke 8.50: chopped salmon with sweet garlic sauce. This was a light and refreshing dish. One of the best dishes of the night.

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Dried Squid Snack Tempura 7.80: We originally ordered deep fried squid tentacles but was told it was sold out. We substituted with these extremely dry and chewy squid tempura. These were hard and oily. I would not recommend this. Some things are just not meant to be!

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BBQ Eel Rice in Hot Bowl 9.80: This Unagi don was delicious and by far the best dish of the night. The eels were grilled nicely and was nice and fatty.

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Pork Fried Noodle 7.80: I liked the noodles. It wasn’t too oily or salty. It was a good cooked dished to add to any dinner.

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Grilled Whole Squid 8:80: Juicy and succulent. It was just appetizing to look at. The squid pieces was tender and the terriyaki sauce wasn’t too salty.

Japanese Pancake: Too much mayo! The pancake was heavy, soggy. There was hardly any meat and the flavors unappetizing. Skip this dish!

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Grilled Whole Squid 8:80: Juicy and succulent. It was just appetizing to look at. The squid pieces was tender and the terriyaki sauce wasn’t too salty.

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BBQ Pork Rice Bowl 8.80: A good chaser to the previous horrible Japanese pancake. Fatty pork pieces onto of rice.

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Green Tea Soy Milk Pudding 4.80: Our pudding was not completely set and was runny. The other table looked pretty good and reportedly it was light and mildly sweet.

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Strawberry Daifuku Rice Caked, Black Sesame Ice Cream and Green Tea Ice Cream 4.80 each: We liked the soft rice caked wrapped in red bean paste. The ice creams had a good consistencies.


We left with fully bellies. I think we tasted everything on the menu. VanVan Izakaya is a good place for late night snacks with reasonable prices. However, flavors are hit and miss and presentation is inconsistent.

VanVan Izakaya is located next to Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taaverna, across from Forage.

Click to add a blog post for VanVan Izakaya on Zomato

VanVan Izakaya / Robson Sakaba Vanvan
URL: https://www.facebook.com/robson.sakaba.vanvan
Cuisine: Japanese, Tapas, Sushi

Mon 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Tue 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Wed 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Thu 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Fri 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Sat 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Sun 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm

1333 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C6
(604) 568-2998

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