Recently, an article about Chef Peter Ho and his Sumibiyaki Arashi concept was published (elsewhere) using snippets from social media to piece together a narrative without any attempt to contact Ho to confirm. Consequentially, it wasn’t an accurate depiction of Ho’s vision, so he reached out to Scout to set the record straight: Yes, he is opening a brick-and-mortar space on Broadway, but it will not unfold the way it has so far been reported. Here are the actual details (and a little context)…
Chef Pete Ho, who has been working the private dinner and pop-up scene in (and out) of Vancouver for a while now, is known for his obsessive love of charcoal and yakitori. Ho moved from Taiwan to Vancouver while still in elementary school (third grade) and became fascinated with Japanese culture in high school. While attending UBC, he went on his first Japanese exchange. After that, it was a series of Japanese working holidays, always in kitchens, until he logged enough hours to land a job back in Vancouver.
Frankly, Ho has been back-and-forth between Taiwan, Vancouver and Tokyo so many times that it’s hard to keep up with his culinary movement over the years. Here is an abbreviated summary of the highlights: Yuji’s of Japan and West (both in Vancouver); French/Japanese restaurant La Rochelle, as well as a stage at three-Michelin-starred Nihonryori RyuGin (both in Tokyo); and, on top of all of that, a decade of working in his family’s seafood restaurant in Taiwan where, in Ho’s words, “I went from being a student at the Highschool of Seafood to graduating from the University of Seafood.” Short story: this guy has game. And dedication. And he now has a Vancouver address to make good use of both.
It was late summer when Chef Ho and I first met on the site of his recently acquired East Broadway restaurant (363 E Broadway). We’d met briefly a few weeks before, but up until then all I really knew about Ho was that his pandemic-era bento box and sando concept had quickly amassed a cult-like following among a group of in-the-know Vancouverites. Nor had I ever been to Donky Chicken (the previous East Broadway address tenant), so I had no clue what the interior looked like and was curious to poke around. As it turned out, the day I visited the room was wall-to-wall with massive tarps airing out after having been used at a large outdoor event the day prior, so I still don’t know what it looks like. But the lingering scent of charcoal escaping from those tarps was enough to convince me that a delicious future for the space lay ahead.
To help fill in the blanks, Ho produced a set of renderings and design details (Studio Roslyn has been engaged to help him bring his concept to life, and from what I have seen, it’s going to be sharp), as well as branding decks (strategy and identity are being handled by Courtney Chew & Kenta Goto of Collective Index / Nakama Studio). Though everything looked pretty polished, Ho was quick to point out that his Sumibiyaki Arashi plans depend heavily on changes to hood venting. While the restaurant is currently going through building permit approval to accommodate this critical change (fingers crossed that goes well), with renovations to follow, optimistically it will still be at least 6-8 months before the space is complete. Bottom line: Sumibiyaki Arashi is a ways off, and Ho is determined to keep the finer points of his end-game concept under wraps to avoid making future guests frustrated by waiting and/or asking questions about timing he can’t answer… But that doesn’t mean he’ll stop cooking! While Ho waits for permits and construction to run their course, he has devised an interim plan to stay connected: Bentos!
“Sumibiyaki Arashi is in the future. Right now, we want to introduce Bento House Arashi. We may not be able to start work on our ultimate goal yet, but we like the timing. The run-up to the more formal expression of our Sumibiyaki plans gives us the opportunity to connect with our community in a fun, highly approachable format. Bento House Arashi will allow Vancouverites to get to know our cooking style and understand our passions while we put the pieces in place for a more conceptually developed experience. Plus, everyone loves a good bento, right?”
Bento House Arashi will be take-out-only yakitori bentos and sandwiches – think Ebi Katsu Sando Beef Katsu Sando on the regular, with a few special limited editions making appearances along the way… Ho explains: “We would love to see everyone at the shop and try out our sandos and yakitori bento and get a sneak peek at the foundational pieces of the concept we have coming.”
WANT TO SCORE?
The first round of bento pre-orders from Bento House Arashi go on sale TODAY (November 8th). Pick-up will be available from 363 E Broadway between 11am and 3pm on November 15th and 16th. Each bento is priced at $30 (before taxes) and includes premium Koshihikari rice sprinkled with shredded nori and topped with savoury chicken Soboro, accompanied by a trio of skewers, including Teba (double mid-wing), Kashiwa (thigh) and Kata (chicken drumettes). For plant-based preferences, there will be rotating vegetable and mushroom skewers. All bentos come with Shichimi Sansho seasoning and Chef Ho’s signature tare sauce. There will only be 30 boxes available daily (the option of scoring a sando won’t kick in until late November). If you want to get in on the action, ORDER HERE before they sell out!