Hello Nori is a brand new hand roll bar located on Robson Street.
It’s already extremely popular. I first heard about it through a friend who mentioned that she’d seen it and really wanted to try it out sometime. After that, I happened to walk by it a couple times and noticed long line-ups outside the door. It really piqued my interest. This is definitely Vancouver’s latest hotspot. Now that I’ve tried it for myself, I can see why.
Hello Nori offers more that just a place to grab some sushi. This is a complete dining experience unlike any other that Vancouver has offered before. I honestly was not expecting to be as blown away as I was. I spent the rest of the day telling anyone who would listen all about it.
The restaurant itself is quite literally a work of art. The overall look is clean, simple and tranquil. The ceiling is a complete showstopper. It’s compiled of 2400 wooden pillars that hang from the ceiling and are inspired by the waves of the ocean. Honestly, I was in awe of the ceiling. Looking at my camera roll after I came home, I took tons of photographs of it (most of them identical, haha).
So let’s talk covid safety – the restaurant has a hand sanitizer station set up right at the entrance. There is also plexi-glass installed between the seating. The chefs and staff are masked. I know they get pretty busy, but as I mentioned earlier, patrons that are waiting are lined up outside the entrance rather than inside. I felt relatively safe.
Okay, now on to the part that you’ve all been waiting for – the food. Hello Nori is a partner of Ocean Wise. They offer high quality sustainable dishes. The menu here is purposefully simple. They offer several different drink options including Japanese beers and sake. They have 13 rolls on the menu. They cover most dietary restrictions and preferences as they offer rolls that are raw, cooked, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. You can order your rolls a la carte, or go for one of their 3 curated set menu options.
I started off with some sake. Their sake is locally brewed and it is exclusive to them. They serve it cold. Hello Nori also incorporates a Japanese tradition where they place a glass into a wooden box which I learned is called a “masu”. They pour the sake until it overflows into the masu. It symbolizes abundance and generosity. I’m a sucker for symbolism and things of that nature, so I thought this was a super cool element to my experience. When you’ve finished the sake in your glass, you can pour the extra sake from the masu into your glass and drink that too. The masu is made of cypress which also apparently adds to the taste of the sake.
On the recommendation of my waiter, Olivier, I went with the set menu option that included 6 rolls and added on an extra a la carte roll. I tried the following:
- Yellow Tail
- Ora King Salmon
- Hokkaido Scallop
- Truffle Lobster
I love the unique approach to dining here. The sushi bar is in a U shape and in the center are the chefs. You can watch as they make your rolls – dinner and a show. They make and serve one roll at a time to ensure freshness. The waiter explained to me that you should eat the roll right away so the nori (seaweed) doesn’t get soggy. The chef does not begin making your next roll until you have eaten your last bite. Initially I felt a bit awkward like the chef was waiting on me and I was eating too slowly, but I quickly embraced this as part of the experience. When you think about it, it’s an exceptional way to eat. Your chef is attentive to you and he’s taking you on a journey through food. You’re savoring and enjoying one roll fully and when you’re ready, instead of needing to flag someone down, here comes the next one.
Now I am in no way a sushi connoisseur by any means, but I can be a bit picky with with fish and I definitely know fresh seafood. No doubt about it, Hello Nori’s sushi is fresh, fresh, fresh! The nori is crispy and crunchy (really good!), the rice is warm and the fillings are of the best quality.
Upon first glance of the menu I assumed that my favorite would be the truffle lobster. I am a huge lobster fan. I did love it (it had thick, chunky lobster meat and you could really taste the truffle), but surprisingly some of the other options shined just as bright for me. I loved the toro, ora king salmon and yellow tail. The unagi is another one I would recommend. It has a smoky and sweet glaze on it and they sear it right in front of you with a torch. Yum! Compliments to the Chef.
After I was done, I did bring up that it was all a bit messy for me. I needed all the extra napkins. I was told that there’s a technique to eating the rolls – taking a bite out of each end seals the filling inside – a note to self for my next visit.
The staff here was extraordinary. I had a lot of questions and Raven and Olivier were both so kind to share all of their knowledge with me. They were charming, attentive and engaging. I had the best service and it really made my visit. I even came back after leaving as I realized I missed a shot that I wanted for my reel. When Olivier saw me, I explained why I came back and he said “of course, you are home here”. They were absolutely wonderful and added to my experience in the best way.
Another cool thing I learned on my visit that I just have to share is that Hello Nori has partnered with a company called Chop Value to recycle their chopsticks. The chopsticks will eventually be made into something else – quite possibly a statement art piece for one of their two new locations that will be opening in Park Royal and Brentwood.
I had a really fantastic and unique dining experience that blew any expectations I had out of the water. I can’t wait to go back. I would definitely recommend that you check Hello Nori out.
Thank you Hello Nori for inviting me to try out your menu.