Yama charms in Vancouver's East Village
I was thoroughly disappointed when I discovered that Basho in Hastings-Sunrise was shutting down. It was one of those cute little cafés that I intended to visit, but hadn’t had the chance. Fortunately, this isn’t the all too common story of a beloved shop shutting down due to an increase in rent.
A little note stuck to door said the owner was retiring, but not to worry, it was being taken over and they had good faith that the food was going to be just as excellent.
Yamamura Mitshuhiro worked at Basho (2007 E. Hastings St.) and took over the space, keepings its charm and its menu, but with slightly altered recipes and a new name, Yama.
I tried the Tuna Tataki ($13.95) with eight-grain rice and made it a combo – soup, sweets, gomae, pickled vegetables and seaweed – for an extra $4.50. The tuna was lightly seared and sliced, served on a salad bed and rice. The meal was both light and comforting, with the clean flavours of the tuna balanced with spicy daikon and a mandarin ginger drizzle that was just a little sweet. Nothing overpowered the fish or the rice, which made it a really fresh dish that focused on textures.
The cream of vegetable soup was smooth and luxurious, served with a sprinkle of dill on top. It was complemented nicely with the sour flavour of the pickles, and astringent taste of the seaweed. The combo was definitely worth the extra money.
I sample quite a few sweets, starting with the Taro Phyllo, which was a sweet taro paste wrapped in phyllo pastry and baked. The crisp phyllo juxtaposed the smooth taro and calmed down the sweetness. I also tried the Macha Moffin and the Chocolate Moffin, which were tiny muffins made with mochi – a sort of glutinous rice.
The chocolate one was my favourite – as usual – and I really enjoyed the unusual gummy texture of the mochi. I rounded off the sweets with the salt and sesame cookie, with black sesame. The combination of the sesame and salt will certainly get you salivating.
Yama is a cozy spot for a long lunch with a good friend or loved one. The space itself is very sweet with handicraft feel thanks to the quilted garlands draped across the room and dark reclaimed wood. The food is light and fresh, but substantial. It’s not going to blow out your taste buds with spice and salt, but like the space, Yama’s food has a subtle charm that will make you slow down and appreciate every ingredient.