Irashai Grill on West Pender

by Victoria on January 18, 2010

After starting to write this food blog, I realized that my photography was bad and I really didn’t know my way around a camera.  I figured that anyone looking at my posts would notice and just appreciate some better pics of the food. When I heard in the beginning of December about Jackie Connolley’s food photography courses that she’s held in the past, I asked when the next one would be happening.  When I got a response that one was coming up in January I signed up right away, and was hoping that even though I use a point and shoot, I could still learn some basics so that I could at least feel a bit more in control of how my pictures turned out.

Well, her class was held last Saturday at Irashai Grill, a contemporary Japanese tapas and sushi restaurant on West Pender in the Coal Harbour area of Vancouver.   The class started with two hours of learning, and then those who wanted to stay settled in for some lunch.  I met a few other food bloggers during this class, including Kim (I’m Only Here for the Food!) who’ve I’ve already met with for lunch a few weeks back, Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures), and Anita (La Petite Foodie).  So, this post also has my first run of photos off of the automatic mode on my trusty little Canon. Be gentle on me – I’ve gotten way better over the past week still after more experimenting (maybe I’ll have to ask Santa for a DSLR next year too), and ‘saving for web’ on PhotoShop didn’t help! 🙂

Now on to the food!

I decided to order one of the lunch boxes – the I.Zen bento special.  I then headed over to the other food bloggers, and found that they had ordered a large variety of dishes and were sharing – they were nice enough to still let me try some of their dishes.  Plus, we’d just learned a bunch of things and needed the practice!

I.Zen Lunch Box Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3

My lunch came with two daily specials – which happened to be the Grilled Sablefish and Chicken Karaage that day. I did quite enjoy both the chicken karaage, which was nice and crispy on the outside, and the yuzu miso-marinated sablefish (I don’t think I’ve ever had bad sablefish at a restaurant – here’s hoping that it never happens)!

Grilled SablefishRating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4

Other than that, there was some gomae, which unfortunately had the sweet peanut sauce on top, instead of the sesame seeds alone that I like quite a lot better.  I find that peanut sauce is usually too thick and processed-tasting and just not something I’d usually prefer.  There were also a few different pieces of sushi rolls, and a piece of ebi and wild sockeye salmon nigiri.  What disappointed me the most was seeing the farmed salmon sashimi in the bento box – generally, every time I’ve seen that, I just don’t find that I will be super happy about my meal in the end.  I’m willing to pay more for the fish to be wild!

Sashimi, Gomae, Chicken Karaage Rating: 2Rating: 2Rating: 2Rating: 2Rating: 2

Other than that, I did try a bite of the Aigamo Duck with vegetables as well.  We were trying to figure out why it wasn’t as tender as other duck that we’ve had before, and came to the conclusion that maybe it was because it wasn’t cooked as well done as others that we’ve had, or perhaps it is free range duck?  If anyone has any ideas, please drop a comment here, and let me know.  I still don’t know and am really curious about it.

Aigamo DuckRating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3

Next in line for a taste was the Beef Tataki Carpaccio.  Again, this wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t all that great either.  Like the duck, it wasn’t as tender as I’ve had before, and I think it would have done better if sliced more thinly.  It did look really juicy though, and the presentation of this dish was nice and colourful!

Beef Tataki Carpaccio Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3

A couple more dishes came to the table, but I didn’t try these ones out.  I’ll include the pictures here though, and I’m sure you can find out more if you read the other posts that are going up from my photography classmates and fellow food bloggers. 😉

Summer Roll

Oyako Don

Overall, I’d say that the Irashai Grill was alright, but nothing special.  I’m not sure if it was the dishes that I tried and just that I’m not ‘in the know,’ but there are several other Japanese places in town that I’ve frequented and would prefer over it.

Irashai Grill
1368 W Pender Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 4S9
View Map

Overall: Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3
Food: Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3Rating: 3
Service: Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4
Atmosphere: Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4
Price: $$$

Irashai Grill on Urbanspoon

<a href=””><img alt=”Irashai Grill on Urbanspoon” src=”” style=”border:none;width:130px;height:36px” /></a>
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

KimHo January 18, 2010 at 10:14 am

Too bad you ordered ahead of us. Still, it was good you were able to give an (additional) assessment of the general idea of the food.

Victoria January 18, 2010 at 10:21 am

Totally, now if I could only take pictures like you… 🙂

Follow Me Foodie January 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Lol….I’m a food photographer rookie too…my pictures suck, but I kind of take the “you get what you see” route. I just use a point and shoot right now too.

Yeah your sushi pieces don’t look great…which surprises me a bit because I thought they would have spent extra care in presentation considering the context of why you guys were originally there….and they knew who you guys were…but in a way it’s a good thing to know there is equal treatment.

Great post.

Kevin Yu January 18, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Aigamo Duck!
2 major problem with this dish:

#1. Duck is still a little bit undercooked!
I kinda understand the arguement of duck being a type of red meat and can be enjoyed rare, but the photo there is really under!!
Consider Duck follows under Fawl, please a leastt concern with Salmonella Food Poisoning!!!!
If the cooks there can just put in the oven for 2~3 minutes more, it’s would be med-rare and the protein of the duck will coagulate a little further. This result, easier to bit through, thus!!! more tender!!!

#2 Duck needs to be RESTED
If you look at the sauce, a huge of blood is mixed with it.
Resting the meat is really important because it allows the juices redistribute back to the meat fiber. Rush cutting it early will only make the duck meat tastes dry so you need a pool of sauce to cover the mistake!

Bon Appetit!

KimHo January 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Kevin, ducks are not usually grown the same way as most commercial chicken so the risk of salmonella would be different. However, assuming there would be any risk, I would be more worried the surface it was cut is clean rather than the doneness of the meat. On the note of rested or not, that would be an error from the kitchen, not ours. That’s why we thought the execution was poor.

Victoria January 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Thanks, Follow Me Foodie. I feel better that I’m not the only rookie photographer out there! 😉

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