Is This Vancouver’s Most Underrated Restaurant?

I recently polled (Facebook) friends on which Vancouver restaurants didn’t get the attention they deserved. There were plenty of good answers, not to mention a really funny one (“Hawksworth, how long will he have to toil in anonymity?”); certainly enough to keep me making smart reservations for the next few months.

Having given plenty of thought to my own question (and debating offline with actual human beings), I think my answer would be Dosanko. There are certainly others that fit the bill, but none that I enjoy more.

The casual, homestyle, Western-influenced and seasonally-inspired Japanese restaurant certainly has its busy moments, but the chances of a walk-in customer ever having to actually wait for a seat is very low. And somehow that feels wrong. Dosanko – especially at dinner with its beautiful Japanese omelettes and ridiculously delicious chopped pork Curry Rice – should be slammed with a queue of eager diners out the door and down the block. Why? Not because they have a TV show or spent a million on their interior (they don’t and they didn’t), but rather because chef Nathan Lowey’s food is so crave-worthy and Aki Tani’s hospitality is so earnestly genuine. Dosanko feels like an old school “Ma & Pop” joint because it is one; an oddball carry-over from a totally different time. There’s just nothing forced or superficial about it, and I hope it stays that way.

For the past couple of weeks they have been closed for dinner service (Nathan was in recovering from a surgery) but as of last night they’re back at it. If you’ve never been before, the cooking is seasonal so there are always interesting specials to dig into, not to mention some very well made cocktails to sip (see gallery below). Hours are currently Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, with Monday services returning in November.

Of course, readers will have their own thoughts as to what might be the most underrated restaurant in Vancouver, and I’d love to hear them in the comments.


There are 11 comments

  1. I think Verre in Coal Harbour is soooo underrated. The food is soooo good there but it’s never busy. I’ve never heard of Dosanko so we will definitely check it out. Is it kid-friendly?

  2. I think it’s highly overrated. I grew up with home-style Japanese cooking and what they serve is only a mediocre imitation that not only fails to pay respects to the original dishes it hopes to “elevate” but also fails to simply provide a decent, well thought-out culinary experience. The dishes sounds like it should work great on the plate, but the actual product is not well executed and accomplished only on the very shallow, surface level. I do agree though that the level of service and hospitality they provide is top-notch.

  3. HJK, not sure why you think Nathan and Aki have been trying to “elevate” yoshuku. My husband’s family is from Hokkaido and they think it’s super legit. So do I.

  4. A hard working family trying to make it happen by doing what they love. Nothing better.

  5. I agree with the Andrew, Dosanko is excellent. The food is great and the service is so nice and genuine and professional all at once. I have eaten there a good dozen times and have brought many guests and not one of us has had anything but a great time. I would be hard pressed to find anything negative about Dosanko, Nathan or Aki.

  6. I agree with you. We’ve been many times and each time they treated us like family. Excellent call.

  7. It’s simply the best. The hardest working duo, doing it all for their family and passion for cooking. Huge love for Nathan, Aki, Maya and Liam.

  8. Totally agree with you on this one! Loved Dosanko when I visited – will need to re-visit again. When I went, I was the only diner which is such a shame for such a lovely space.

  9. We have eaten here 4 or 5 times and we love it. It’s always easy to park (for those who commented on parking downtown), the atmosphere is great, cozy and not cramped like many new restaurants; the food is seasonal and fabulous and both the chef and the front of house, his wife, are lovely people.
    Definitely under rated.