Anyone who’s lived in Vancouver long enough would be familiar with the city’s most famous Japanese restaurant, Tojo’s. This year, Chef Hidekaku Tojo and team are celebrating the restaurant’s 30th year. The landscape of Vancouver’s restaurant scene over these past three decades - particularly its sushi scene - has changed dramatically. And to still be relevant - and innovative - after such a long period of time is no small feat, particularly in a city where restaurants come and go like the wind.
There are literally hundreds of sushi restaurants in the Vancouver area, but Chef Tojo is a pioneer. In fact, did you know he invented the California Roll, which is perhaps the most famous roll known around the globe? It’s hard to imagine a time when Vancouverites were squeamish about eating raw fish. But decades ago, he created the California Roll as an easy way for the locals to adjust to eating rice wrapped with seaweed. In fact, he turned the roll inside out so that patrons wouldn’t be distracted by the seaweed.
I recently got invited by Chef Tojo for an omakase dinner. Omakase, basically means ‘chef’s choice’ and so the fun is in being presented with a multitude of dishes created at the chef’s discretion. Chef Tojo, of course, presented us with an amazing dining experience - one that I won’t soon forget.