Food Fridays: Basho Café in the Nook of East Vancouver

I’m a huuuge fan of all things Japanese, food being no exception 😛 This blog is titled Breakfast with Words, but today I’m gonna flout the breakfast part just a bit and talk about a Japanese-style café that serves a lunch that packs a punch.

Basho tuna

Tuna tataki on rice: lightly seared tuna sashimi with seaweed, radish, julienne carrots, yam, and homemade tofu mayo. Note the origami paper the chopsticks come in!

Basho Café is a hidden gem on East Hastings and Semlin Drive on Vancouver Eastside (towards the north end of the city). It’s a little tough to find somewhat far from urban centres, but it’s well worth the trip.

Potted plants warmly encased in knitted sleeves. We left them origami gifts made from our chopstick wrappers. They supplied the turtle.

Potted plants warmly encased in knitted sleeves. We left them origami gifts made from our chopstick wrappers. They supplied the turtle.

What got me about this café was the cozy interior decor. As my friend aptly put it: “the bathroom looks like someone’s house.” The owners obviously put effort and heart into designing the space, and they obviously had quite the eye and quite the skill knitting and sewing, as most of the furniture was warmly decorated with fabric and knit art. Clay-potted plants were encased in knitted sleeves (with a fun little turtle figurine on top), fabric art hunt from the ceilings, and even the handle on the main door was fitted with a knitted sleeve.

The café mainly focusses on hot drinks and baked goods, but they also have three savoury meals: Teri Pulled Pork ($8.00), Tuna Tataki ($9.50), and Basho Veggie ($7.50), all entrées that can be served on rice or salad. We got one of each, and I got the Tuna Tataki. I’m a sashimi fan, so the tuna did not disappoint. Sashimi is usually light on the taste, which usually disappoints me because I love the fishiness of fishies, but I could taste a satisfying whiff of tuna-ness from my tuna, which was delicately garnished with ginger and green onion. The rice could have used a little more sauce, but there was plenty of tuna and veggies to go with it. The scoop of yam on the side, smouldered in homemade tofu mayo, was the pleasantest surprise as it was simply a gorgeous treat; the mayo was very creamy and satisfying, yet the taste wasn’t too strong and didn’t overpower the sweetness of the yam.

Basho Veggie and Teri Pulled Pork.

Basho Veggie and Teri Pulled Pork.

I didn’t get to try the other dishes too much (was too absorbed with my own!) but I did note the pulled pork had a very interesting, thin, “wispy” texture. I tried just a taste and noticed it had all the meatiness of pulled pork despite its delicate structure.

Small cookie that came with matcha.

Small cookie that came with matcha.

Other treats at the café included in a wide assortment of bakery goods. We got the $5 afternoon set after 2:00pm that included four baked goods and another bowl of matcha latte. (Sorry I don’t have a picture of this, it all got nomnomnommed before I could whip out my camera!) The baked goods are all very unique and many are matcha-based. My favourite was a yellow cake-type pastry made from “kabocha” or squash.

I had to try the matcha latte as its greatness has previously been blogged about before, and I’m absolutely in love with matcha. The matcha latte ($3.75) was thick and foamy and served in a big handle-less bowl; it also rested on a thick coaster made out of a similar material to oven mitts so you won’t burn yourself drinking it. I found it quite bitter on its own so I added some coconut sugar and honey. Make sure to stir well or it’ll all sink to the bottom!

Matcha latte.

Matcha latte.

I think the only downside to this place is that the food is served in rather small portions for its price. For example, a medium-sized matcha cookie (compared with, say, a Starbucks cookie) is $1.75. Other than that, the service was friendly, the couches were comfy, and the decor blew me out of the water. I’ll definitely return for more baked goods (and photos!) next time.


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