Popular Vancouver sushi restaurant opens Japanese specialty food market (PHOTOS)

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Ramen kits, fresh nigiri, saké, ready-to-bake matcha cookies, and meal kits for two are among the exciting offerings at the thoughtfully curated new Aburi To-Go grocer, operated by a popular local Vancouver sushi-centric restaurant.

Making the most of a space that has sat dormant during the COVID-19 pandemic, Yaletown's Minami, which is operated by the Aburi group of restaurants, has just opened its own boutique grocery store. The market showcases house-made ingredients, ready-to-eat dishes, sauces, sides, and full meal kits, alongside packaged local and imported items, down to the handmade pottery, aimed at offering guests another way to enjoy Aburi at home during these unusual times.

Aburi-To-Go is tucked into the restaurant's Blue Ocean private dining room, with walls adorned in eye-catching lobster-themed mural art that was created by artist Hideki Kimura nearly a decade ago when Minami launched. The 1,000 square-foot marketplace is carefully laid out, starting with cases of grab-and-go items like sushi rolls and combos, salads, snacks and sides, bento boxes, and even the incredibly popular katsu sandos, as well as desserts made by Aburi's talented pastry chef.

Here you'll also find a line-up of sauces and condiments straight from Aburi restaurant kitchens, like Gyoza Bar's Umami sauce or Miku and Minami's sushi rice vinegar. Journey to the back wall and you'll find snacks, pantry items like packaged Japanese curry, and portions of chocolate for home baking. Along the other wall are refrigerated cases featuring staples like miso paste and soups from local companies, as well as massive cuts of imported wagyu beef (with price tags to match). 

In the freezer section, Aburi once again gets to show off its dedication to house-made fare, with the building blocks of great meals you can create at home. There are meal kits featuring everything you need to put together a vegan curry for two, or frozen portions of ramen broth in a variety of flavour options. You can also buy frozen ramen noodles, or grab a complete ramen kit to build your own bowl from start to finish. If you need an assist in your home kitchen, QR codes on the products open up a product guide complete with helpful cooking tips and instructions. 

Aburi-To-Go is also able to offer customers liquor with food purchases and has items like beer and sake that are featured on the restaurant's menus and many bottles that are hard to find elsewhere in Vancouver, all at approachable price points (and at a saving from what you would pay as a sit-down restaurant guest). 

One extra touch is the inclusion of hand-thrown pottery dishware from central Japan, in case you were looking to collect your own bowls and plates to enhance your Japanese meal at home. 

Aburi's grocery store off-shoot could be a division that the restaurant group grows in the near future. 

To that end, Aburi has brought on seasoned grocery and seafood veteran Hidekazu Kobatake to lead the Aburi To-Go team of product specialists.

"We hope this will be the first of many Aburi To-Go locations to come," Seigo Nakamura, Founder and CEO of Aburi Restaurants Canada.