This year’s Sakura Night Gala celebrated Vancouver’s top local restaurants through an exquisite evening of Asian-fusion flavours. Guests had the opportunity to eat an array of different exquisite dishes paired with the appropriate alcohol, as well as sample the wonderful health-enhancing Gaba tea, provided courtesy of Finlandia Pharmacy & Natural Healthcare Centre.
Proceeds go towards the non-profit and charitable Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF), an intra-community arts and cultural Festival vital for community engagement, multiculturalism, the arts, and the environment.
Renowned mixologist Jay Jones, who oversees Vij’s and Vij’s Rangolis bar team, designed a new cherry blossom cocktail experience – Hisako Cocktail, to greet our gala guests.
Thank you to our Chefs and Alcohol partners!
Chef Taka Omi
Born and raised in Tokyo Japan, Chef Takayuki (Taka) Omi found his passion for food early in life. After sharpening his skills in Japan’s restaurant scene and at the Yamaha Resort in Tsumagoi, he made his way to Toronto, where he honed his craft at a small Japanese restaurant under his mentor, Chef Okada. In 2010, the ‘West Coast called’ and Taka moved across country to open The Lobby Lounge in the Fairmont Pacific Rim where he has since held the reigns of Sushi Chef. His passion for spreading Japanese cuisine has also led him to Benkei Ramen, where he dedicates several hours a week to producing authentic and quality ramen for Vancouverites to enjoy. When Taka isn’t rolling and slicing, he takes his talents to the classroom and shares his skills; teaching sushi classes for adults and children with proceeds going to the Red Cross Relief Fund.Presenting: Tori-Shio Ramen with Cherry Blossom
Chef Nathan Lowey
Born and raised in Regina, chef Nathan Lowey is dedicated to learning—and mastering—the traditions of his trade. He received his Red Seal Journeyman Certificate at the Northern Alberta Institute of Training in 2006 and later earned the role of chef de cuisine at Edmonton’s Jack’s Grill, one of the city’s premier fine-dining establishments at the time. In 2009, he relocated to Vancouver with the intention of working under acclaimed local chef Robert Belcham. Nathan was soon hired as chef de partie at Belcham’s now-defunct Refuel and would go on to serve as chef de cuisine at the award-winning Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma. Along the way, he has cultivated relationships with local farmers and become a proponent of “slow cooking”, which values handcraftsmanship, quality products, and upholding the integrity of individual ingredients.Presenting: Spring harusame (yam) noodle salad; and Sakura Onigiri
|Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver
Chef Ken Nakano
Chef Ken Nakano’s cuisine is ingredient-driven, first and foremost. A Vancouver native, Nakano was raised in a traditional Japanese household, where he developed an early appreciation for seasonal, home-grown ingredients thanks to foraging and fishing excursions with his family. The importance and respect for culinary traditions were instilled in him by his mother from a young age, and this continues to influence his style today.
With over 20 years of culinary experience, covering all aspects of food and beverage operations, Nakano expresses his food philosophy at Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver with sophisticated yet uncomplicated flavours, and menus that showcase the best ingredients from coast to coast.
With a passion for sustainability, he supports many local farmers, producers and fisherman; he was instrumental in launching the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program on Vancouver Island.
Foie Gras Terrine
Chef Masayoshi Baba
Masayoshi Baba was born with great passion of Japanese cuisine with nearly 20 years of kitchen and sushi experience. Since residing in Vancouver, he has received tutelage and 10 years of valuable experience at one of North America’s foremost sushi restaurants. In 2015 he opened Masayoshi and began to serve omakase, a unique dining experience based on seasonal ingredients. Masayoshi proudly uses his knowledge of different cultural cooking techniques to bring out the very best flavours in his food creations.Presenting: Albacore Tuna with Zucchini and Onsen quail egg
|Notch8 Restaurant & Bar
Chef Will Lew
Growing up in the ‘City of Glass’, Will’s journey into the culinary world started through his grandfather, a chef in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and “head cook” at family dinners. He instilled not only a love for cooking in Will, but an appreciation for expressing oneself through different creative mediums including drawing, painting, woodwork, Chinese calligraphy and music. In 2005, Will took a job as a dishwasher in a local Vancouver restaurant and started to work his way up the ranks to become a cook. In the years that followed, Will’s talent and tireless dedication to his craft would pay off, seeing him as a Chef de Partie for the opening team of Trattoria Italian Kitchen, Chef de Cuisine at Sanafir Restaurant and Outlet Chef at Fairmont Pacific Rim. Finally, at his new home in Notch8, Will’s fresh take on nature-inspired Canadian cuisine shines.Presenting: Venison-Wasabi Leaf- Smoked Cherry Tartare: Maple Kuromitsu Cured Quail Yolk, Wild Knot Weed, Fermented Radish, Sake Compressed Fuji Apple, Smoked Cherry Ume Boshi Fruit Leather, Umami Rye Crumb
Zen Japanese Restaurant
Zen Japanese Restaurant, the critic’s choice as the North Shore’s best Japanese restaurant, also won the 2014 Diners’ Choice OpenTable Award and was Vancouver’s first Japanese restaurant to join Ocean Wise, a Vancouver Aquarium program committed to the long-term health and stability of the greater marine ecosystem.
“Best sushi ever…I’m addicted.” Sarah McLachlan
Presenting: Bao Buns: Zen karaage chicken and Asian slaw with chilli mayo; and Zen inspired sushi
|Boulevard Vancouver Kitchen & Oyster Bar
Pastry Chef Kenta Takahashi
Pastry Chef Kenta Takahashi not only brings the requisite traditional French panache to the line at Boulevard, but his Japanese heritage also lends a modern and sophisticated twist to each exquisite dessert he creates.An award-winning pastry chef in his home country, Kenta worked in a number of restaurants in Tokyo and Kanagawa, Japan before coming to Vancouver and continuing to hone his craft under renowned pâtissier and chocolatier Thierry Busset. Armed with the discerning eye of a true artist and the classic skill and training of a chef, Kenta oversees Boulevard’s menu of tantalizing desserts as well as its varieties of flaky pastries and fresh-baked breads created in-house each day.Presenting: Green tea ice cream with sakura foam, yogurt mousse, and shortbread crumble
| Jay Jones
Jay has been professionally Bartending for over 22 years – during that time he’s tended, managed, consulted on and launched over 40 beverage programs across Greater Vancouver and Whistler, Canada. Formally educated and experienced in wine, spirits & beer, he has strived to create world-class hospitality at every level of the industry. Currently, Jay is the Beverage & Social Media Director of Vij’s Group – having recently been part of launching reincarnations of flagship Vij’s Restaurant as well as Rangoli Restaurant & Bar.Presenting: Hisako Cocktail