A few weeks ago, a group of about 10 of us went out for dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’d been hearing a bit about Zakkushi Charcoal Grill on Denman as a great Japanese BBQ to go to, so I made some reservations for the group for that weekday evening. There are two other locations of Zakkushi – one in Kitsilano and the other on Main Street (neither of which I have tried).
We were seated at a long table against the windows in the narrow dining area of the restaurant. I knew immediately that this would be a place that I would enjoy, as I took one look at the menu in front of me and delighted in the fact that there were some interesting dishes similar to what can be found at various street vendors in Asia. Since each order usually comes with two pieces, we of course decided on picking almost everything that was available to feed the large table – some of us more adventurous than others. We munched on some Edamame in the meantime, while they fired up the grills in the kitchen area.
Of course, as a Japanese restaurant, they have some sushi options as well, so we started out with a plate of Assorted Sashimi. This included fresh amaebi (sweet prawns), ika (squid), scallops, wild sockeye salmon, and mackerel. All very delicious, and most just flash frozen before being served. We ordered a couple of these plates, and set aside the prawn heads for the staff to deep fry and return later on.
The Tako Wasabi was something I’ve only had a couple of times – it’s raw octopus, mixed with some onion and nori and made into a small sort of salad. This was absolutely delicious, and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t had it and is brave enough to give it a try.
Another octopus dish that we ordered was the Tako Salad, with cucumber, seaweed, and a miso sauce with sesame seeds over top. This reminded me a little bit of sunomono with it’s refreshing qualities, just without the noodles and vinegar.
To make sure we had our fill of vegetables for the evening, we also had some Gomaae that we passed around the table, lightly flavoured with a peanut sauce and white sesame seeds.
We also tried the skewers of Shitake mushroom, with grated radish and green onion. These were a little bit dry, and really needed the dressing to liven things up.
This is where we became more carnivorous, and chowed down on a large variety of meats.
First, there were many types of chicken (as you can see, not much of the bird went to waste here):
To add a bit of carb into the mix, we had a couple of Yakitori Don, or chicken over rice, with a sweet sauce, onions and nori.
To supplement this a bit further, we had Onigiri, which is basically roasted balls of rice. Slightly charred on the outside, these were quite plain, but would be good if dipped and eaten with some spices and in conjunction with the other dishes.
Next came the whirlwind of beef items:
Of course, we couldn’t forget about some seafood! So here we go:
And remember the sweet prawns from our sashimi platter earlier? Well, here is the result of the deep fried prawn heads that we sent back for preparation. So delicious and flavourful!
Needless to say, we were stuffed after all of that, and just barely made it through the birthday cake that was brought for dessert (not from the restaurant itself). The birthday boy was suitably embarrassed, as the staff shut out all of the lights and started signing to him, along with everyone in the restaurant (after the confusion of a power outage was over).
The most amazing thing about Zakkushi? After all of the barbecued meats that we consumed that night, I couldn’t detect even a hint of cooked food on anyone else – usually I’m concerned that I’ll leave with my hair and clothes all indicating I was sitting around a large bonfire after being at a place like this.
Atmosphere: (extra props for not being smoky!)