With the spring season now upon us, it’s time for us to pack up those heavy winter jackets and enjoy some warmer weather *fingers crossed*. With cherry blossoms in bloom, it’s also a great time to kickoff the 8th annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from April 3 until April 28. With plenty of community events planned this year, the VCBF’s mission is to sustain and renew Vancouver’s cherry tree heritage, while educating and actively engaging diverse communities in local arts and culture to celebrate the fragile beauty of the iconic Cherry Blossom. This past weekend, I attended Sakura Night, a standing dinner reception that was hosted at Tojo’s Restaurant.
Left: Outside the restaurant, a lone Taiko drummer kicked off the reception with a ceremonial performance. Right: Various stations were set up inside the restaurant, where diners could go and try various plates and culinary masterpieces served by several of the city’s best Japanese chefs, including Tojo’s Restaurant, RawBar at The Lobby Lounge at Fairmont Pacific Rim, Miku Restaurant, Zen Japanese Restaurant, Seventeen89, and Zakkushi Charcoal Grill.
Left: With the legendary Hidekazu Tojo, who invented the famous California Roll and has been delighting local sushi lovers since 1988. Right: Tojo’s Golden Roll (Crab, scallop, wild Pacific salmon, and sweet shrimp rolled in an egg crepe with fish roe on top), Great Canadian Roll (Inside-out Atlantic lobster roll with asparagus and smoked Pacific salmon on top) and Smoked Sablefish Sushi.
Left: Miku Restaurant’s sushi chef Kazuhiro Hiyashi hard at work searing the aburi sushi with a blowtorch. Right: The fruits of Kazuhiro’s labour, the delicious aburi salmon, ebi and saba oshi sushi.
Above: Cured sturgeon carpaccio with yuzu and red shiso vinaigrette, by Fairmont Pacific Rim’s RawBar.
Left: RawBar also featured a sake and sakura glazed pork belly; Right: In addition to their aburi sushi, we also tried Miku Restaurant’s pickled Hokkaido scallops. They were served with fresh herb-edamame relish, watermelon radish, candy cane beet and garnished with pea tips, chervil, sliced red baby carrot, and whole grain mustard.
Left: Zen featured a trio of items, which included their Ume Asian Slaw (Asian slaw wrapped with purple shiso infused pickled daikon radish, garlic ponzu drizzle), POP-UP Prawns (Selva Wild Black Tiger prawns stuffed with Zen Tuna poke coated in rice pearls, served with spiced mango mayo), and Tori Gyoza (Garlic and ginger marinated boneless free range chicken wings filled with spiced onion bacon stuffing, served with sweet soy); Middle: Zakkushi, well-known for their robata style (Japanese BBQ) menu, served several different skewers including their Charcoal grilled pork cheek with sea salt.; Right: Seventeen89 served up their Albacore tuna tataki in black sesame cone, with daikon shiso slaw.
Above: Jay Jones, award-winning barman and internationally recognized cocktail designer, serving up Cherry Blossom martinis. Keeping guests refreshed and hydrated with their wine and beer were Liquidity Wines and Scandal Brewing.
Above: No dinner is complete without desert. James from Bella Gelataria was also on hand with a specially prepared Sakura (salted cherry) gelato & Japanese plum wine sorbetto.
Left: Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Executive Director Linda Poole greeted the guests and thanked the sponsors and partners for being part of this amazing event. She has been a relentless campaigner to make the month-long event a success, and none of this would be possible without her hard work and ongoing dedication. Right: My lovely dates for the evening were none other than Popcorn‘s own Shakeira MacLean and Amy Elderkin. We assisted with the PR and social media marketing for this event.
The event was a huge success and was a great way to kick off the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s not every day that you get to assemble such a fantastic roster of great chefs under one roof, and knowing that all proceeds from the event went towards a good cause is just icing on the cake. Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Society is a non-profit charitable society in BC that was established in 2005. To learn more about VCBF and their events, please visit their website.
If you don’t plan on checking out any of their events, please make sure to at least enjoy the spring weather and cherry blossoms!