Written by Nathan Fong
Photography Michael Chicoine
Dosanko has brought light to this fledgling Downtown Eastside neighbourhood and with it stellar Japanese comfort food at its best.
Situated in the city’s historic once vibrant Japantown, Dosanko is the welcoming and homestyle restaurant from the husband and wife team of Nathan and Akiyo Lowey. Chef Nathan worked previously in the award-winning Campagnola and its sister Campagnola Roma in East Vancouver. Sapporo born Akiyo ran front-of-house at the renowned Tojo’s and ShuRaku Bar and Bistro.
This cozy 45-seat Powell Street front location, has once seen more glorious days in the now somewhat sketchy low-income neighbourhood, but with gentrification slowly happening with new restaurants, cafes, offices and breweries emerging, the area will have a renaissance in the hopefully near future.
The kitchen in Dosanko serves slightly refined Japanese yoshoku, comfortable homestyle menu items such as traditional onigiri (grilled rice balls with various fillings) and donburi (rice bowls) to cheesy milk toast, fried rice omelets and crisp succulent panko-breaded tonkatsu (pork cutlets).
Unlike the many izakayas and ramen shops in Vancouver, don’t expect gyozas (although there are other upscale Izakaya plates offered) and steaming bowls of soup noodles but comfort food you’ll expect to see in one of my Japanese sansei (3rd generation) friends home cooking where western and eastern culinary cultures have bonded creating unique cross culture dishes. Many of these favourites were cultivated and introduced to Japan after the US Navy arrived in the mid-19th century.
Being close to the Japanese-language school just down the block, the weekends are brimmed with Japanese locals while during the week, a steady hipster and fashionable crowd from the nearby fashion and design offices fill the tables.
Their onigiri rice balls vary from a wonderful Spicy Tataki of Albacore tuna, lightly kissed on a grill and garnished with a spicy mayo and nori sauce, influenced with Lowry’s housemade Koji-salt, to Chicken Karaage (marinated fried chicken) to Rich oily shredded mackerel with miso and green onions. A play with our West Coast ingredients include a lovely Ling Cod
Kastsu Don, morsel of golden panko crusted orbs with shiso tartar sauce over steaming quality Tamanishiki rice.
A ubiquitous favourite, Tempura features seasonal produce enrobed in a delicate, crispy golden batter dipped in ponzu or koji-salt. I particularly enjoyed having sweet raw beetscontrasting with the delicate savoury casings. Or their Japanese styled Okara Hamburg, a luscious minced pork and beef patty with okara smothered with a sublime demi-sauce to the unique Curry-rice, the yellow slightly sweet-aromatic curry sauce (thanks to British introduction in the 1870’s) enrobed with pork, vegetables and garnished with cheese and pickles.
Dosanko has brought light to this fledgling Downtown Eastside neighbourhood and with it stellar Japanese comfort food at its best. Certainly one of my favourite new picks for 2019!
Dosanko Restaurant 566 Powell Street Vancouver, BC 604-251-2020 dosankorestaurant.ca