Irashai Grill: Looks better than it tastes…

During the winter holidays, Kim invited me to attend a food photography workshop during the first week of January. At the time, I was in the process of purchasing my first dSLR and was kind of in a tizzy in figuring out the logistics of the camera prior to the workshop. Before New Years, my new toy arrived! YAY!!! 😀 Fresh out of the box, I quickly assembled it and got ready in taking test shots and took it to one awesome restaurant in the north shore on New Year’s to take some food pics. (Which I will post sometime later) 🙂

Once the day of the workshop arrived, I was joined by Sherman, Kim, and Victoria. The photography workshop was taught by Jackie Connelly and was held at Irashai Grill. Let’s just say that that day, I learned a lot about photography techniques and styles. I just need more time to practice as I am still learning!

Jackie Connelly


After the workshop was completed, we were given the option of staying at Irashai Grill for lunch or to go else where if we wanted to. Since I haven’t been to the restaurant and have heard some talks about this restaurant and wanted to practice our photography techniques we learned in the workshop, we decided to stay for lunch.

Everyone took a picture of this as a test shot...


The first dish we ordered was the Beef Tataki Carpaccio ($12).

Yumminess Rating:

This dish was thinly sliced seared beef on top a bed of daikon, greens and carrot and was drizzled with herb olive oil and citrus ponzu sauce. When presented a beautiful dish like this, you’d expect the beef to be tender. Let me tell you that it was not, it was rather chewy and made me wonder what cut of beef it was because it tasted like a big chunk of steak seared lightly and cut into thin slices. I could not taste the “beef” meat taste and the citrus taste. It seemed like all I could taste was the oil, no citrus, even when I tried dipping the beef into the dressing.

The next dish we ordered was the Summer Roll. ($13.50)

Yumminess Rating:

The Summer Roll consists of prawn tempura, cucumber, mayo, masago with marinated tuna and avocado on top with sweet soya drizzled all over. The rolls were aesthetically pleasing and it was tasty. After taking a bite into one of them I could taste was the creaminess of the avocado and sriracha kick (see the red dot on the avocado?) complimented the tuna and the shrimp. What I found lacking is the contrast of textures for this roll. Even though it has prawn tempura in it, it didn’t have a crunch to it. The rolls held up well but I found that it was too much rice for a roll.

When the Oyako Don was served, it came with a miso soup. Since I was still in the mood for taking even the most mundane pictures of food, I took the picture of the miso soup and thought out loud how I would make miso soup look “sexy”. Now, making the food “sexy” and “work it” are part of our conversations in food photography.

Oyako Don is comprised of chicken, egg and onions on top of rice ($9).

Yumminess Rating:

To be honest, this dish was disappointing as I felt that it was lacking an element to this dish. I would expect the rice to have at least some kind of flavoring such as a touch of mirin, dashi and soy or sauce from the chicken and onions. This dish can easily be replicated at home.

The next dish to arrive was Aigamo Duck ($16).

Yumminess Rating:

The Aigamo duck was grilled tataki style duck breast with chef’s secret sauce. OMG, this is one tough duck. I’ve never had a duck that was tough and chewy like a piece of overcooked steak. Mind you, the duck was cooked to how we wanted, medium rare. We were all wondering why such a piece of duck that is tender be so tough? We pondered if it was the way it was cooked or the way it was cut. It still remains a mystery to us.

The last and best dish to arrive was Grilled Sablefish served with yuzu miso sauce ($14).

Yumminess Rating:


The sablefish was tender, flaky and moist. The skin was nice and crispy and the fish had a slight caramelization to the surface. I’d say I’ve never had a bad sablefish ever. You can’t really mess up sablefish.

Overall, I had a great time at the photography class and learned a lot from Jackie Connelly.  In terms of the food at Irashai Grill, it was aesthetically pleasing, but the food didn’t live up to it. To be honest, it was alright, nothing special. The items on the menu were a bit pricey for what you get. Ther are several other Japanese/izakaya places in town that I’ve frequented and would prefer over it.

Irashai Grill
1368 W Pender Street
Vancouver, BC
Irashai Grill on Urbanspoon

Value: Not worth it. Some items are hit and miss in terms of quality.
Ambience: Sports bar style izakaya in Coal Harbour.


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