Eat Your Way Through the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, April 4 -30

Takoyaki - savory octopus scallion balls - at Sakura Days Japan Fair. Photo credit: MartialArtsNomad.com

Takoyaki – savory octopus scallion balls – at Sakura Days Japan Fair. Photo credit: MartialArtsNomad.com

There’s a Japanese proverb “hana yori dango” that translates as “dumplings rather than flowers,” meaning people are more interested in food than blossoms during sakura festivals. Given the all star line-up of food events at Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2013, taking place April 4-30, you may feel the same way, even though the blossoms sure are pretty.

From Sakura Westcoast Afternoon Tea Service to Cherry Jam SakuraB bento boxes, ramen, chirashizushi and enticing Japanese street eats by Mogu and Japadog, here are the top food events at Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2013.

Top Food Events at Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2013

1) Sakura Westcoast Afternoon Tea Service at The Urban Tea Merchant, April 4-30
The Urban Tea Merchant is offering Sakura Westcoast Afternoon Tea for $38 per person through April 30. Crook a pinkie as you sip TWG’s Sakura! Sakura! green tea enhanced with a scattering of cherry blossoms. The savories are also Japan-inspired. The chef upgrades finger sandwiches to sophisticated bites such as miso-maple glazed sable fish in butter lettuce and wasabi and smoked salmon with ponzu jelly. Finish with matcha madeleines as you watch the cherry blossoms drift down in the Alberni courtyard. (1070 West Georgia Street)

SakuraB Photo credit:  Nobu Ochi, 604 Creative

SakuraB Photo credit: Nobu Ochi, 604 Creative

2) SakuraB Bento Boxes at Cherry Jam, April 4
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival enlists the help of Vancouver’s sushi celebs like Hidekazu Tojo, the inventor of the California roll, for their SakuraB Bento box lunch, available for rush orders at Cherry Jam Downtown in the Burrard SkyTrain Station at 11:00am April 4. $20 cash gets you lunch items including chirashizushi Tojo style, nagori yuki (grilled halibut coated with rice cracker), and an Ocean Wise sakura roll with seasoned tuna and zucchini tempura in egg crêpe. The pre-order is sold out. Expect fierce competition for the rush orders.

Mogu Japanese Street Eats food truck. Photo: Taraneh Jerven

Mogu Japanese Street Eats food truck. Photo: Taraneh Jerven

3) Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Botanical Garden, April 6-7
Come hungry. Sakura Days, taking place April 6-7 at VanDusen Botanical Garden, is packed with tempting Japanese eats. It’s worth braving the line for takoyaki, addictive octopus pancake batter balls with green onions and tempura bits. Japadog will serve up their legendary terimayo dog. New food truck Mogu will be there with crispy karaage – soy, garlic, and ginger marinated chicken deep fried until irresistible. You’ll also find ramen, chirashizushi (sushi rice topped with sashimi) and sticky red bean paste sweets.  Buy advance tickets here. (5251 Oak Street)

Minami Restaurant in Yaletown. Photo credit: Minami

Minami Restaurant in Yaletown. Photo credit: Minami

4) Sakura Cherry Blossom Menus at Vancouver Japanese Restaurants, April 4-30
Yes, you can eat cherry blossoms. Let an expert show you how to prepare them. A select group of Vancouver chefs have integrated cherry blossoms into a menu item. Minami, an aburi (seared) sushi restaurant (1118 Mainland St.) has a pale pink Sakura Roll with pickled blossoms and Amberjack fish. Tojo’s is offering a seafood salad with a cherry mentaiko vinaigrette. According to the Vancouver Sun’s Word of Mouth Blog, the restaurant imported blossoms from Kyoto, paying .70 cents to $1 per blossom for their distinctive flavour (1133 West Broadway). Sakura-themed menu items are available through April 30. Visit Japanfairvancouver.com for more sakura menus.

Cherry Blossom High Tea at Shangri-La Vancouver

Cherry Blossom High Tea at Shangri-La Vancouver

5) Cherry Blossom High Tea at Shangri-La’s Xi Shi Lounge, through April 30
Xi Shi Lounge (1128 West Georgia St.) upgrades their lovely afternoon high tea service with cherry-themed and/or pink treats such as cherry frangipane tart, cherry blossom madeleines and rhubarb strawberry trifle, alongside the regular menu of savouries.

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