Its seems like forever since I had a meal at a restaurant. My first dinner at a restaurant since lockdowns started where I live on approximately March 16, 2020, took place just over two months after on May 22, 2020. The first dinner was at Gyu Kaku, a chain of Japanese BBQ restaurants located all over the world. The dinner felt surreal due to all the changes that have taken place, and also due to increased awareness about my surroundings.
Upon arrival, I first noticed that the floor had markers indicating where people should stand. We were asked to sanitize our hands and have our temperatures taken. Then we were seated. The restaurant practiced social distancing by closing every other table. Here are some of the steps they were taking in response to COVID:
The menus were abbreviated and disposable. You had to mark your order on disposable forms.
The food was still delicious.
The next day, we had dinner at what I consider to be the best omakase in Vancouver – Jin Sushi. In contrast to Gyu-Kaku, this is a small owner operated place. We were the only ones there that night, and in fact, the chef told me that we were his first and only customer to dine in since lockdown.
They have been operating on takeout. This evening, they were offering a $159pp omakase.
Everything was spectacular.
Because of social distancing, we could not sit at the sushi bar and everything was brought out to our table one by one. Great service from what I assume was a husband and wife team. If you get a chance, I highly recommend this place. Because of the lack of people dining in, we were able to have a great conversation with the chef and his wife.
Another favorite place of mine in Vancouver which I had dinner at last night is Zakkushi on Denman. This is a yakitori restaurant. Like the others, there were a lot of changes implemented due to COVID, but still good as I remembered.
…and finally, today’s lunch. Ramen at Santouka. This place usually has long lines, but today, they were reduced to 8 people inside at a time. They have also been doing takeout. While I was there, no one else was eating there.
Based on early data from Opentable, it looks like reservations are starting to pick up though from a base of basically zero. Hopefully, the industry survives, especially the smaller operators.