April 11th, 2011
by Lima Al-Azzeh
Contest Opportunity! The last time I was at the Grand Villa Casino, I had no idea that my enjoyment could extend beyond the casino doors, through the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre, and even just outside the complex. In what I can only call a food-lover’s dream come true, I was invited to sample the diverse tastes offered by G-BE Izakaya, EBO, Scala Lounge and the Grand Dynasty Restaurant. From palette pleasing food to inviting decor, these four restaurants proved themselves as the latest hot spots for truly tantalizing food and warm, elegant ambience in Burnaby, dished up by some of the most talented and experienced chefs in the business.
G-Be Restaurant: The meal and the decor
G-Be restaurant serves up Japanese Izakaya which is akin to tapas, and according to Chef and Executive Producer Tetsuya Hashikawa, is the pinnacle of authentic Japanese dining experience: fun, friendly, casual and all about sharing great food and even better conversation. This is exactly what G-Be does best.
We were greeted warmly, and loudly (as is the custom) by the smiling waitstaff, instantly making the experience a comfortable and inviting one. As we were lead to our adorable, private booth we took in the impressive decor. The restaurant is split by a long wooden table, perfect for large parties or an evening where you feel game to meet some friendly strangers. Just above the table is an intricate bouquet of origami cranes, arranged chandelier like offering the restaurant a clever touch of whimsy. We also admired a beautiful representation of a zen garden – an entire wall transformed into a sand and rock garden. Its effects seemed to emanate throughout the restaurant. We felt calm, which lead to feeling incredibly hungry!
Chef Hashikawa greeted us sincerely, and explained that many of the items on the menu are newly concocted creations that will be available after the upcoming grand opening – he also handed me his business card. I couldn’t believe my luck, Chef Hashikawa is the mastermind behind famed and popular restaurants Gyoza King and Chicco dall’Oriente Cafe in Vancouver. His empire has also expanded to Richmond as well. I knew I, along with the Burnaby community, would be in for a real treat.
The meal started off with a generous bowl of miso soup, and two types of carpaccio – gently seared , paper thin slices of beef and falls-apart-in-your-mouth tuna. The beef was served with a tangy ponzu sauce, while the tuna was accompanied by a flavourful miso paste. It was amazing to see how such thin slices of protein can carry so much flavour!
Next up was the Negitoro sushi roll – Negitoro being tuna belly. Now, Chef Hashikawa later explained that Izakaya isn’t typically about sushi, it’s about small, shareable appetizers, things like chicken wings, but with the popularity of sushi, he’s reintroducing it to the Izakaya experience, but in new, creative ways of course.
After the amazing Negitoro roll, we were served a hot, steaming tofu steak with two types of mushrooms. Crispy and soft, and absolutely packed with flavour. Then, making its own grand entrance, a colourful seafood salad served in a huge clay bowl was placed on the table. The mixed greens, thin sashimi slices of salmon and tuna, chunks of mango and the cool, creamy dressing perfectly offset the heat from the tofu steaks. As we made our way through forkful after forkful of salad, I noticed the addition of an ingenious ingredient – one that added crunch, and sweetness and the perfect flavour to the salad … a cornflake! It had never occurred to me to use the breakfast cereal as a crouton in a salad, but it was perfectly light and the perfect mix in the salad. Truly genius.
What later became my absolute favourite dish was up next: tender, succulent, crunchy chicken tenders with yet another genius twist, they were coated in rice krispies! I’d never seen anything like it. Surprisingly enough, the chicken nuggets were savoury and even a little spicy, and came with a side of a spicy herb mix that you could sprinkle on top to your tastes. These tender morsels alone are worth a trip to G-Be no matter where you are from.
A house speciality common to many Izakaya establishment is the Ebi Mayo – tempura fried prawns covered in a slightly spicy, creamy mayo sauce. In all my Izakaya experiences, I’d say these prawns were my favourites. They were nice and big, so the meatiness was really satisfying and the fried outer shell was light and wasn’t greasy, which unfortunately could be the case at many other places. Again, perfect balance was achieved int his dish, which seems to be Hashikawa’s specialty.
Finally, we were treated to the piece-de-resistance, a soft shell crab roll topped with soft shell crab tempura with a side of fresh home-made bisque served creatively in little fish-shaped vials. The soft shell crab practically melts in your mouth as you chew threw it, and the bisque makes for a delightful warm surprise, a temperature and texture not typically associated with sushi. I also enjoyed the hint of balsamic glaze and caesar dressing that were strewn as decoration on the plate. It was a subtle and very worthy addition to the meal.
Despite the fact that we were stuffed to the brim and already awed by how satisfied we were, we couldn’t resist dessert. Again, it’s the special little touches and surprises that make G-Be a go-to place for any special occasion.
Our trio of cheesecake arrived including some unconventional combos – a red bean cheesecake, a green tea cheesecake and a mango cheesecake! It was interesting to see that each cheesecake took on its own unique flavour and even texture. The read bean was a little more savoury, while the green tea had a zing without being too sweet, and then there was the fresh mango, which was practically like giving your tongue a ticket to a tropical island. The cheesecakes were arranged beautifully and included a sweet biscuit, perfect for dunking in tea. My favourite part though, was the tiny chocolate heart hung on the biscuit.
More about Chef Hashikawa
I sat down for an interview with Chef Hashikawa and his business partner Kinn Chan to get to know their story, which was inspiring to say the least.
Chef Hashikawa started his chef training in Osaka at his father’s restaurant. He’s also served a few stints working in Chinese restaurants and spent three months working and studying French cuisine in France. These cultural influences, techniques and ideas all play a part in his menu execution.
When in Vancouver, he met with Kinn Chan, who was looking for a Japanese chef to help develop and open Gyoza King, which actually pioneered the Izakaya movement about 7 or 8 years ago. Kong delightedly recalls an anecdote where the concept of this style of dining was so new, that when a customer came in and asked if they served sushi, he adamantly declared that they did not offer sushi at Izakayas. This anecdote became such a fond joke, he even had t-shirts crafted that said “no sushi” on the front.
Depsite the success of Gyoza King after 4 full years in business, Chef Hashikawa felt there was still more to learn and more to do, a sign of a truly artful Chef, dedicated to his craft. He travelled back to Japan, where he opened three of his own restaurants and then later returned to Vancouver, found Kong and began growing their empire of Izakaya right here in Canada.
Both Chan and Hashikawa oversee every aspect of their restaurants – from hiring traditional Japanese carpenters to forge custom-made structures and furniture to selecting each friendly staff member (I especially appreciated Akie’s graceful service, a testament to their exceptional standards).
I couldn’t quite believe that G-Be has only been open for four months, and I hope it continues to see increased success as Burnaby’s Izakaya favourite hotspot. I know my dining partner and I are already planning some great birthday parties there … and our birthdays aren’t until December.
G-Be the new hotspot!
I would highly recommend going to G-Be, whether you’re looking for a few delicious lunch-time snacks, or hoping to spend an evening with friends, sharing great food and maybe even meeting some new people.
G-Be Izakaya is open 7 days a week from 11:00am – 2:30pm and from 5:00pm – 11:00pm. To call for a reservation contact G-Be Izakaya at 604.435.6002.
The restaurant is located at 4331 Dominion St., attached to the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre.
G-Be Izakaya wants one lucky winner to try the restaurant for themselves! We’ve got two ways for you to win a $50 gift certificate to G-Be!
1) Fill out the entry form below for one entry.
2) You can also enter by following us on Twitter and tweeting the following message: RT to enter to win a gift card to G-Be Izakaya @GVCasino from @Tourism_Burnaby http://ht.ly/4xJXS
Contest ends April 20, 2011 with the draw taking place April 21, 2011.
G-Be Izakaya Contest Entry Form