Saku, specializing in Japanese pork cutlet set meals, opens in Vancouver's West End

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      Ramen shops have been dominating the restaurant scene down near the Robson and Denman street intersection. But some recently new spots, such as Gon's Izakaya, are reasserting Japanese culinary diversity.

      A new Japanese establishment is further reinforcing that variety with a menu that diverges from the noodle crowd in the area.

      Saku had its soft-opening at 1773 Robson Street this past week, in the former location of ramen shop Men-no Kura which closed earlier this year.

      The handsome, compact space seats approximately 18 people with an additional 10 on the patio, and has already been frequently filled with customers. The room features smart, modern décor with a light colour palette and some hints of 1960s, Scandinavian, and Japanese minimalist design.

      Craig Takeuchi

      As the restaurant is still in soft-opening mode, the menu is an abbreviated version that focuses on teishoku, or Japanese set meals.

      The focus here is on katsu, or pork cutlet breaded with panko, or Japanese-style bread crumbs. The panko is sourced from a local bakery while the hormone-free pork, which is aged for 18 hours before being tenderized, is from Fraser Valley Farms.

      Ranging from $15.50 to $18, the four varieties available are curry rosu (pork loin with Japanese curry on rice), rosu (pork loin), hire (pork fillet), and katsu nabe (pork loin with egg, onion, and house sauce with rice and salad).

      Each set is served on a tray and includes side dishes of rice, tonjiru (pork miso soup with diced vegetables), shredded cabbage, and pickles—all of which can be refilled indefinitely and can therefore accomodate voracious appetites. For variety, diners can also add on a deep-fried jumbo prawn ($3.50).

      Saku's curry rosu set
      Craig Takeuchi

      The menu will expand once the grand opening is held in a few weeks.

      The Georgia Straight has contacted the establishment for further details.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook

      Places to go nearby

      Approx. 15 minutes away