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Dosanko brings homestyle Japanese to Vancouver's Japantown

Restaurant offers dishes that are simple and familiar, but underneath the unpretentious presentation are complex and precise.

The Miso-Saba with mackerel and shiso from Dosanko.

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Abby Wiseman / Metro Order this photo

The Miso-Saba with mackerel and shiso from Dosanko.

In Vancouver we equate Japanese food with sushi. It’s the low hanging fruit/food that lines are stomach when we need something quick and cheap. California rolls and prawn tempura.

There’s a whole other Japanese cuisine considered too upscale for everyday, but perhaps it’s time to change our perception, because homestyle Japanese is comfort in a bowl.

That’s what Dosanko aims to accomplish with Yoshoku – meaning Japanese-Western food – dishes that are simple and familiar, but underneath the unpretentious presentation are complex and precise.

Chef Nathan Lowey was inspired by his wife Akiyo’s Japanese home cooking. They decided to open up Dosanko, but wanted to do it in Vancouver's old Japantown.

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The space they found at 566 Powell St. is large by Vancouver standards, with reclaimed wood and brick walls, with string lights lining the ceiling and rice lanterns hanging down. It feels homey and comfortable – just like the unpretentious food.

The first dish was the Saba-Miso ($3), which was a triangle of rice mixed with shredded mackerel, shiso and house-made miso. The pungent mackerel was balanced with the perfectly cooked and the minty tasting shiso leaf. The miso brought it together with its slight nutty flavour.

Next was the pork Tonkatsu, which is breaded and fried pork with a Tonkatsu sauce. Frying pork so it is tender is a challenge and Chef Lowey did a nice job. The ends were slightly chewy, but the centre cut of the pork shoulder was perfection,

I mentioned before that this food is unpretentious, but very complex. The Tonkatsu sauce is a prime example. It tastes and smells of aromatic spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In reality it is made with nearly 20 ingredients, including apple, onion and mushroom.

The lunch menu featured an item that I thought was a little odd – a tomato and cheese sandwich. I love simple food done well, so I risked being boring and was happy I did. Fresh baked milk bread toasted lightly, with sungold tomatoes, mozzarella and koji mayonnaise.

Lowey grows the koji, made from fermented rice, in house. It gives a slight nutty flavour to the mayo, which is balanced by the sungold tomato. Green in colour, sweet and smooth with very little acidity the tomato matched the sweetness of the milk bread. The mozzarella grounded it with a little sharpness.

The sandwich was once again simple, but done well and I enjoyed every bite.

Dosanko is definitely on my list of places to explore further and I look forward to trying their dinner menu next time around.

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