Just minutes after opening for the day on a blustery spring Saturday morning, the brand new Aburi Market in Ambleside, West Vancouver, is already buzzing.
An open kitchen lines almost an entire side of the shop, starting with a jaw-dropping display of imported Japanese Wagyu beef. Aburi Restaurants Canada’s COO, Noriaki Okubo, says it’s probably the only place in Metro Vancouver where you’ll find this kind of product line. Behind the immaculate display cases, a hard-working butcher, hailing from Japan, who knows not only Western cuts, but also specialized Japanese cuts, like tiny sections that are usually sold locally as part of larger cuts.
Instantly, shoppers get the idea that they can recreate an authentic, high-quality Japanese meal at home. After a brief break from the meat display for a showcase of Aburi’s selection of meat-friendly sauces – including their own range of soy sauce – counter displays beckon with visuals of full hot dishes, like the traditional sukiyaki or shabu shabu. In fact, if you want the full cooking pot experience at home, Aburi has not just the specialty meats, but the soup base, vegetables, and even cooking pot for sale.
The whole meal, or even more broadly, the whole cultural experience of eating Japanese food, is central to Aburi’s new market operation. This is why the Aburi market is referred to as “washoku”, which is essentially the preparation and eating of food, according to Japanese tradition. Today, Aburi Market aims to share this ethos with customers in Vancouver, and likely across the country.
The Canadian company began as a pandemic-era branch of its Vancouver Aburi-owned Minami and Gyoza restaurants, creating space to set up mini-groceries offering take-out sushi, homemade ramen kits, frozen items to heat and serve, and much more.
But here in Ambleside, Aburi Market is a stand-alone business, and it’s easy to see why it’s a popular draw for locals and destination shoppers alike.
A visit to the Aburi market
The market spans over 4,000 square feet and is organized into main sections, starting with the front shelves of pantry items and favorite snacks, like Japanese Kit Kat bars and cookies, and condiments. .
Next to the open prep kitchen (where you might even see Aburi’s owner forming ruby bluefin tuna nigiri to fill take-out trays) are the hot and cold take-out shelves, filled with options. Items are added as quickly as customers pick them up and place them in their baskets – chirashi bowls where the expertly cut pieces shimmer like jewels, jaunty onigiri triangles, rows of pristine aburi oshi sushi – the signature item of Aburi’s Miku and Minami which propelled these restaurants into the limelight.
The selection is almost dizzying: pan-fried scallops, rice bowls, bento, hand rolls. There’s a whole section of Aburi’s range of herbal options (they’re all denoted by a green leaf logo) and a section of Japanese soft drinks. In one area, you’ll find mix-and-match components to put together homemade ramen bowls, nut soup – or, more specifically, noodle broths, plus meats, eggs, and veggies.
The frozen section offers more on-the-go meal options, from complete kits to Aburi’s other new brand, their range of frozen seafood, created through close collaboration with Japanese fishing operations and suppliers.
Japanese household items and more
Around the last corner of the store is the homewares and other accessories section, where you’ll see items like t-shirts and sturdy linen bags featuring Minami’s eye-catching koi artwork (by the same artist as at the restaurant). There are also knives, chopsticks, and dinnerware, as well as more imported packaged foods, like kits for making specialty rice dishes, and bottled dressings and sauces. These are not like the pantry products out front, which might already be known to local shoppers who frequent T&T or other Asian grocery stores, but rather carefully chosen boutique brand products straight from Japan. .
If you can’t wait to get home to whip up a Japanese meal, Aburi Market has a small side patio with seating so you can immediately dive into your to-go sushi and snacks.
Aburi’s plan is to continue to develop its market concept, with the aim of ideally opening niche sibling stores – such as a bakery with sweets and sandwiches, or a sushi shop – with more square footage. small. These smaller shops would produce items that would go to the larger market in Aburi and there would be carefully selected complimentary products available in niche shops to match the theme.
In the meantime, Aburi Market is open in Ambleside and keen to show Metro Vancouverites a taste of washoku.
Aburi Market is located at 1350 Marine Dr. in West Vancouver
@vancouverisawesome Be back I need more of this 🍣🍣🍣 #forkingawesome #vancouverbc #westvancouver #japanesefood #market ♬ Kiss Me More – Japanese Version – Rainych