Plenty of restaurants serve up local and seasonal fare in Vancouver, but few work in such intimate capacities with farmers and producers that enable them to print out new menus every other day.
Enter Dachi (2297 East Hastings), East Van’s latest neighbourhood hot spot.
The 40-seat simple yet cozy dining establishment, run by Aburi Restaurant Canada (Miku and Minami) veterans and business partners Miki Ellis and Stephen Whiteside, offers a Pacific Northwest menu that rotates consistently.
“We’re a small restaurant, but all of us are coming from larger restaurant backgrounds,” Ellis told the Straight in an interview at the new eatery. “The ability and freedom to be able to play around with it [the menu] a bit and change it whenever we like keeps it really fun for us.”
It’s exactly what the restaurant co-owners wanted for Dachi (Japanese for pal)—a short but sweet list of food and drink offerings that are seasonal and sustainable.
“We buy all of our produce in small quantities. Our shellfish comes at 4:30 p.m. and service starts at 5 p.m.,” Whiteside explained to the Straight. “Some people ask what the specials are, but the menu shows everything. If we have the item, then we will print it. It all depends on what we have.”
Dachi officially made its debut in December 2018, in the 1,200-square-foot space formerly occupied by Campagnolo Roma. The small but tightknit team coupled with a group of loving friends were able to work their magic on its interior design and branding without hiring any external (and understandably costly) help.
Wooden elements, lush greenery, and a do-it-yourself upholstered booth banquette are highlights in the warm and welcoming atmosphere.
“If you came to each of us a few years back, we’d be on the same page and have the same vision for a restaurant,” said Whiteside. “We’ve always wanted plants and books in the restaurant. It was very much individual ideas and it came together as if it were one.”
Its latest menu, created by executive chef Tyson Viteychuk, features items like three-year aged cheddar-and-buttermilk biscuits, roasted winter squash stew with cashew butter, country-fried steelhead trout with salted beets, and 24-hour roasted beef chuck flat with red miso.
Desserts like poached Granny Smith apple with ginger mascarpone, and 72-percent cocoa chocolate ganache with hazelnut streusel are also available.
“Some of the dishes can read quite simply, but will have something that has that edge or something slightly different to it,” said Ellis. “There’s a level of familiarity to those dishes that’s comforting and cozy.”
Besides an ever-changing culinary roster, Dachi’s beverage offerings also rotate. A selection of wines, craft beer, and Japanese sake make up the drinks menu. Current house cocktails include Dock Leaf (dry vermouth, Wood’s amaro, Ricard, apple vinegar, and nettle tea rinse) and Get My Fix (chamomile-infused scotch, akvavt, Fino sherry, and pineapple cordial).
One thing’s for sure: if guests like what they see on the menu, go for it because it may not stay for long.
In addition to serving up great local food and drink in the neighbourhood, the co-owners think it’s equally important to build relationships with those who frequent their dining spot.
“At the end of the day, we’re both servers at heart, and it’s nice to have that one-to-one conversation with others,” added Whiteside. “Regulars have helped us build this as much as our friends have. I think that really helps us set ourselves apart in creating an atmosphere where people feel like they're a part of it.”
Scroll through the photos below for a look inside Dachi.