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Some people have their go-to watering holes, and we - like many living in the GVRD - had our go-to sushi joint. It's one that we've visited once every seven to ten days since we first moved to the city in 2006, one where we've grown comfortable and familiar in. At times, we've seen the staff more frequently than members of our own family. Loyalty runs deep.

That place is Yuji's Japanese Tapas, and it closes its doors after service on Saturday.

Yuji's sat in an interesting niche. It's not quite a traditional sushi restaurant: its broad menu offered as many cooked items as raw, where a spicy tuna roll co-existed with a scallop habanero tartare. It's not quite a Vancouver izakaya: though the menu is sympathetic, there's no after-work drinks here, no loud calamity, no orders hollered across the room. Instead, Yuji's - much like its namesake - was a calm affair, nestled on the borderline between both genres.

It's where we had our first mango roll in this city, a pedestrian affair for locals but exotic to transplants from the Prairies, and graduated onwards to other items. It's where we saw our first housemade tamago cooling on the counter, its shade finally that of real egg, rather than the yellow fluorescence of that mass produced stuff that we've since learned to reject. Sitting at our usual spot at the counter, it's where we'd ask Yuji for his freshest offerings, and often treated to just-arrived geoduck, baby hamachi, local octopus or other Japanese fish that weren't easily translated. It's where we first saw a Japanese restaurant offer amuse bouches, where Yuji's creativity often flourished most (the yuzu/pepper gelee is still a highlight), offered to regulars who had grown to trust him and whom he had grown to trust as well.

And, while admitting that all objectivity has long gone out the door, it's Yuji's I've often used as a benchmark for all other restaurants, Japanese or not, one that even Yuji didn't meet all the time. But when he did, true of most occasions, eating at the restaurant was the bright spot of that week, one we'd grown to depend on for the past few years.

But we move on, and so does Yuji. Visit one last time before the doors close - see you there.

Joe.

Yuji's Japanese Tapas
2059 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7
(604) 734-4990

UPDATED: Pictures of the last few nights at Yuji's.


A cherry tomato in yuzu/pepper gelee.

Roe on kelp.

Norimaki salad, with crab.

Tuna and salmon wasabi tempura.

Agedashi tofu.

Housemade tamago.

Sashimi platter: big eye tuna, hamachi belly, toro, geoduck, amberjack, Japanese sea bream.

Maguro avocado crepe.

Spicy curry calamari.

Sweet potato tempura sticks.

Chicken karaage.

Cold ramen, served with shoyu chicken broth for dipping.

Yuji Otsuka.

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