Mamoru Ijima doesn’t get to do as much snowboarding as he did when he was younger.
Now 40, the Squamish man is busy raising two kids with his wife.
Ijima also devotes a lot of his time to running his food trailer, Teriyaki Boys, which specializes in Japanese street food.
This weekend, Teriyaki Boys is coming to Vancouver as one of 20 food vendors at the Powell Street Festival.
The festival, which runs on July 30 and July 31 in Oppenheimer Park and the surrounding area, celebrates Japanese Canadian culture.
As in previous years, Ijima expects to sell a lot of teriyaki rice bowls as well as grilled squid.
“Grilled squid is a very popular street food in Japan,” Ijima told the Straight in a phone interview.
He added that Teriyaki Boys typically doesn’t carry grilled squid on its menu but that this is prepared for select occasions like the Powell Street Festival.
Ijima makes his own recipe of teriyaki sauce, a sweet and savoury flavouring for meat, fish, and vegetable dishes.
Teriyaki traditionally uses soy sauce, sugar, and mirin rice wine.
Ijima, a native of Fukuoka on Japan’s Kyushu Island, first came to Canada in 2003 to snowboard in Whistler, B.C.’s world famous resort town.
“I saw a lot of beautiful mountains and the people are so nice, and I decided to come back with a working visa,” Ijima said.
He returned to Whistler in 2004, got a job at the Japanese restaurant Teppan Village, and met his future wife, also a Japanese and native of Hokkaido, at the same establishment.
Fukuoka is known for its street food, and Ijima used to work at a barbeque house there.
“I wanted to bring Japanese streetfood in Canada,” Ijima said about why he and a friend—Yu Sasaki, a professional skier—decided to start up Teriyaki Boys in 2014.
Sasaki eventually settled in Revelstoke and asked his buddy Ijima to take sole ownership of Teriyaki Boys. He currently co-owns theTwilight Bite food truck in Revelstoke, which Ijima noted is very successful.
Michael Ouchi is the longtime food booth coordinator with the Powell Street Festival.
“Food is one of the main reasons people come down to the festival,” Ouchi told the Straight in a phone interview.
He explained that food vendors are grouped into three types: community associations, independent businesses, and food trucks like Teriyaki Boys.
“Our community associations have been with us in the festival since the first year, and so they’ll always have a special place in my heart,” Ouchi said.
“I know that for many of them, they use their food booths as their main fundraising activity, so I encourage everyone to support them,” he added.
As an example, Ouchi cited the Konko Church of Vancouver, which sells a Japanese dessert called imagawayaki, a stuffed pancake.
He also mentioned the Vancouver Buddhist Temple, which is famous for its curry rice bowl.
The other community associations are the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall, Tonari Gumi (Japanese Community Volunteers Association), Tenrikyo Yonomotokai, and Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association.
In addition to freshly prepared food, the festival also offers a selection of seasonings from condiment maker Van Koji Foods.
There’s also tea from Tea Lani, and from Ichiyo’s Matcha Bar as well.
Vegans can enjoy vegan ice cream from Vegan Pudding & Co., with selections of mango vanilla, espresso chocolate chip, and salted caramel.
Ouchi said the festival offers a good cross section of Japanese food offerings, with the proof being in all the vendors’ lineups.
For more details about the Powell Street Festival, see here.