Inatei is located at 9021 Leslie st. I first heard about it about 2-3 years ago when my parents heard that the owner of the restaurant they frequent, had opened up a second restaurant: a japanese one. They had tried it and recommended it to me. Today I went with my friends to this place I like to go to when I feel like treating myself.
I love the decor of this restaurant because it really does capture a Japanese feel to it. With its dark stone constructed wall contrasted with the light coloured wood to partition the booths, finished with the oriental flower fabric, the atmosphere is instantly created. As a very full-package oriented person, I do believe that decor makes and breaks a restaurant. If my eyes and my tastebuds don’t completely agree, then there is just something off. Not to say a restaurant has to be beautifully decorated, but it has to match and fit. This place definitely does that for me.
We ordered the sushi and sashimi moriawase which a selection of sashimi, nigiri and maki. I love this place because they don’t focus on the common types of fish we tend to see. They had this yellow roe fish (which is actually the golden herring menhaden), saba (mackerel) topped with green onion and ginger, scallops, among the more common types. Everything was very fresh and the quantities were enough that we can really savour the fish. We also ordered a spider roll which had an amazing flavour, which at first almost tastes like okonamiyaki (a flavour I cannot get enough of). I usually am not a fan of soft shell crab but this roll really sucked me in.
We also had an order of uni nigiri. But they had run out of regular Vancouver uni, so they threw in a Hokkaido Uni (which was more than double the price) in for us instead. The uni more to the bottom of the picture is the Hokkaido one. My friend and I split these two and we definitely could taste a difference. The Vancouver one had more of a fishy taste, and was more “watery”. Whereas the Hokkaido had less fishy taste, but a bitter aftertaste that lingered for quite a while. It also was very very creamy and smooth. I’m not a huge lover of uni but have been enjoying it since my trip to Japan. So I definitely thought their Hokkaido uni was really quite good.
For dessert we ordered my beloved tofu cheesecake. Inatei was the first time I had tofu cake and although I was very very hesitant at first, I fell in love with it at first bite. It is more like a hard pudding consistency, with tofu taste and graham cracker base. Eaten with the chocolate drizzle, whipped cream and the sliced almond on top, it is so amazing. I also love that this is quite a generous portion of cake (compared to places like Guu, where the slice of yuzu cheesecake was the size of my middle and ring fingers combined….).
Another generous gesture was seen by the owner as he threw in 3 lychee panna cottas for us. It was really more of a lychee pudding, with a piece of lychee at the bottom. Very light in texture and flavour, but I don’t think I would’ve paid for this.
We were served with speed and friendliness by the owner. I loved the whole experience and although I’ve come several times already, I continue to recommend this restaurant to my friends and family. Perhaps it was that I asked if they had tofu cheesecake in stock when we first sat down, or perhaps it was because I spoke cantonese to the owner. Either way, I believe that if you seem to really want to eat their food, they will treat you as treasured customers. Afterall, this restaurant wasn’t opened purely to make money.