Shizen Ya: Organic Vegetarian Sushi

Hey everyone! Hope you’re all having a lovely week so far – we’re halfway through, YAY! Seline and I have been super busy recently doing all the last to-do’s here in Vancouver before we fly off to Paris on Sunday. Tomorrow is my last day working at the Vancouver Aquarium, and I’m really going to miss the kids in my AquaCamps class. 😥

Last week, my sister (Seline) and I met downtown after work to enjoy dinner at Shizen Ya, a healthified Japanese restaurant I’ve wanted to try for a pretty long time! From their website, Shizen Ya is proud to be the first natural food Japanese restaurant chain in North America which serves sushi with only brown rice, and salad with organic vegetables. I was so excited!

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  • 985 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC
  • (604) 568-0013
  • Open every day 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM

Note that there are a couple sushi doors next door and a couple doors down, as well as a pho place. This restaurant is so tiny that you’d miss it if you weren’t looking!

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Shizen Ya has two restaurants – we visited the one downtown. This location has only 18 seats and was located in a very narrow building. It was quite crammed in here, and from what I could see, the kitchen was very small. We arrived around 5:30, and there were already quite a few people (maybe half-filled?) enjoying their dinners. By the time we left around 7:00, there were already people lining up.

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The servers spoke to us very kindly and with big, friendly smiles. We felt very welcomed and comfortable, even sitting near the kitchen. I thought the menu was interesting – laminated menu sheets strung onto a wooden (bamboo?) board. Creative!

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SAKURA BLOSSOM ROLL: 桜ブロッサムロール

Roll: FRESH REAL CRAB(w/Mayonnaise)/SPICY ALBACORE TUNA/CUCUMBER/ORGANIC AVOCADO/ORGANIC BROWN SUSHI RICE/WILD SOCKEYE SALMON ON TOP

Sauce: CREAMY MAPLE SAUCE(Mayonnaise base)

I would give this a 3/6. This dish arrived first and I was ready to dig in!

  • Way too much rice! I like fillings more than rice wand was disappointed to see so much brown rice
  • The brown rice was unseasoned and tasted bland – most all sushi rice is mixed with vinegar, sugar, and salt (brown rice texture was good, though)
  • I didn’t feel like the sockeye salmon on top was especially fresh
  • I would prefer the cucumber to be cut smaller in the roll
  • Some pieces had completely NO spicy albacore tuna, others had zero crab meat: better balance of ingredients and sushi-rolling skills required here!
  • The spicy tuna was quite spicy for my taste, although one piece of tuna I had was totally un-spiced

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CHICKEN BREAST w/ ORGANIC MISO TERIYAKI: 鶏笹身の味噌照り焼き

BRAISED CHICKEN BREAST with SIGNATURE ORGANIC MISO TERIYAKI SAUCE, add brown rice

A 3.5 out of 6 in Seline’s book! She thought the rice was really plain and wished there was more flavour. She claims that the chicken was good, but just okay. “It’s just chicken and rice,” she said simply, and told me that this would’ve been better with some onions and more spice. I didn’t try this, and sometimes I just don’t understand my sister. She ASKED for brown rice and we were charged extra for it, but she didn’t like the rice at all. :O

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DRAGON MAGIC ROLL:ドラゴンマジックロール

Roll: WILD SOCKEYE SALMON/CREAM CHEESE/CUCUMBER/ORGANIC BROWN SUSHI RICE/GRILLED SALT WATER EEL(ANAGO) AND ORGANIC AVOCADO ON TOP

Sauce: HOMEMADE ANAGO SAUCE

A better-than-decent roll for sure! 3.5/6.

  • Some pieces were topped with water eel (anago), others topped with avocado: I would prefer a bit of both on each piece
  • Each piece was filled with a roll of smoked salmon and a clump of cream cheese
  • I was very disappointed with the cream cheese – there was an overwhelming amount that took away from the flavours of the fresh seafood
  • I wish there was a bit less cucumber and maybe some mixed greens
  • The anago sauce was flavourful and tasted like sweet eel soy sauce, but the amount they used was a bit much for me
  • Overall, I couldn’t get the cream cheese flavour and texture out of my mouth. The amount would be good for crackers, but certainly not sushi where the veggies and fish should be the star.

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NATURAL BOMBER ROLL: ナチュラルボンバーロール

Roll: TIGER PRAWN “WHOLE WHEAT” TEMPURA/FRESH REAL CRAB(w/Mayonnaise)/CUCUMBER/ORGANIC SPRING MIX LETTUCE/ORGANIC BROWN SUSHI RICE/ORGANIC AVOCADO ON TOP

Sauce: CREAMY BOMBER SAUCE(Mayonnaise base)

A tasty and fresh roll with awesome crispy tempura, I’d say this is a 4/6.

  • Tempura was whole wheat, but I wasn’t able to tell
  • Rice was bland and unseasoned. I missed the usual vinegar-sugar sushi rice
  • The mayonnaise bomber sauce had hints of wasabi, ketchup, and a bit of garlic
  • I felt like there was too much rice here and would have preferred two pieces of tempera rather than one
  • More crab meat and a smaller piece of cucumber would be appreciated
  • Seline raved about this roll. It was her favourite and we ended up ordering two servings instead of one to share.

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GEISHA GIRLS ROLL: ゲイシャガールズロール

Roll: YAM TEMPURA/ORGANIC SPRING MIX LETTUCE/ORGANIC CARROT/CUCUMBER/RED PEPPER/FRESH MANGO/ORGANIC BROWN SUSHI RICE/ORGANIC AVOCADO ON TOP

Sauce: HOME MADE SWEET SOY SAUCE/BLACK SESAME SAUCE

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Definitely a unique roll that will appeal to vegans and vegetarians – unfortunately this wasn’t totally what I was looking for. 3/6

  • This roll was only available in 12 pieces
  • Like the other rolls, the brown rice was plain and unseasoned. There was no vinegar/sugar/salt flavour.
  • The yam was orange Japanese yam, rather than the regular white sweet potato
  • Some pieces didn’t have sweet potato, like the photo in the middle! This was disappointing
  • Some pieces were overflowing with the uncut “ends” of roasted bell peppers, which I didn’t like
  • The black sesame sauce had excellent sesame flavour, but I couldn’t taste any sweet soy sauce
  • I was not satisfied with the filling to rice ratio – I wish there were more fillings and a thinner layer of rice
  • I appreciated the hearty amounts of neatly-sliced avocado!
  • I felt like this roll was missing something but couldn’t pinpoint it until reading the menu just now – there was NO MANGO in my roll at all :O

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Overall, I’d say Shizen Ya is a great Japanese restaurant that caters to “Western” tastes. It is certainly not authentic, but great if you are looking for a lighter-ish sushi dinner. Unfortunately we didn’t try the sashimi! I don’t think I will be back – there are too many incredible sushi places in Vancouver that I have yet to try.

Happy Thursday everyone! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Shizen Ya: Organic Vegetarian Sushi

  1. OMFG. I HAVE to go here. Seirously!
    My sister is vegetarian and she has the hardest time at sushi places 😀 I’ve been looking for a vegetarian/vegan sushi place in LA that’s not too far from where I live–this looks great even though it’s in Vancouver! ❤ everything looks amazing–oh and it's so cool how they all serve brown rice sushi! Woot woot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would absolutely ADORE this place! So many vegetarian and vegan options to choose from, and I’d say 80% of the ingredients are organic, local, and even GF. Maybe you can open vegan sushi in LA!

      Liked by 1 person

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