I was kind of craving Japanese food when I came home from work a day last week. Chris was really hungry, which is not usually a good time to go out for sushi – you’ll be in the poor house before you feel really full! 🙂 As a compromise I suggested we try VanYa, a small Japanese restaurant with excellent prices that my fellow food blogger, Kim, told me about!
We got there around 6 PM and the place was packed! I was shocked to see how busy this little hole-in-the-wall was. The waitresses were super nice and very friendly. They were also super cute when they tried to explain what certain dishes were and couldn’t quite find the right words in English 🙂
We ordered each a main, plus a few things to share. I didn’t take a picture of Chris’ Tempura Udon, but it looked pretty fantastic. The tempura came in the soup, which is not what I personally prefer, but the portion was quite generous for $7.50.
I went for the Saba Teishoku (Mackrel set meal), which, in my opinion, was a steal!
Served all at once, I got miso soup (with lots of wakame!), a big piece of agedashi tofu, some green beans with a bit of gomae, rice, and the barbecued mackrel. I liked that the mackrel came with the grated daikon garnish, as well as some marinated seaweed. This entire meal was very reminiscent of a set lunch we had in Tokyo several years back! The saba/mackrel was a little dry, and I did miss the small slice of lemon one normally gets with this dish, however, it was still a huge portion and very well seasoned with sea salt/light soy.
As for our sharing dishes, we got both Gyoza and an order of the Spicy Tuna roll.
The Gyoza were really juicy and came in a very thin “skin” dumpling. I was impressed by how tasty the filling was, but missed the black-vinegar that is normally served with this dish elsewhere – I didn’t find the chili oil-based dipping sauce as good. As for the Spicy Tuna Rolls – I was quite surprised by what arrived at the table! Instead of the chopped bits with a tabasco-mayo sauce coating the mix in the maki, these were big pieces of tuna that had been pressed into a spicy chili powder. While my preference is still probably for the mixed up mayo version, I definitely appreciated the way this preparation showcased the quality of the tuna itself.
Normally we wouldn’t be ordering quite this much food, but despite our large meal, the bill came to under $30 – pretty amazing! So, while it may be a bit hard to find (and the decore, or lack thereof, is definitely not worth mentioning), I think VanYa is a great little place that clearly has developed a crowd of regulars based on what we saw last week – and for good reason!