COFU Vegan Sushi and Sober Bar in Vancouver

Looking for vegan sushi in Vancouver? Or how about a sober bar in Vancouver? Find them both at COFU Pressed Sushi on Granville Island.

More than 10 million tourists visit Vancouver’s Granville Island annually for its well-known artisan market. While shopping, people-watching, and live music are big draws, I was excited to finally be visiting COFU Pressed Sushi. If you’re looking for vegan sushi or a sober bar in Vancouver, you’ve come to the right place.

I arrived at COFU mid-afternoon, an off-time for the restaurant, and had the whole place to myself. It was a quiet oasis in the clamor of Granville Island. The décor is sparse and modern without being sterile, thanks to the warm wood tones of the bar and floor.

Inside COFU

I enjoyed the minimalist decor, softened with wood, at COFU. Photo courtesy COFU

I took my time with the menu. In addition to listing the food choices, it included several pages of background information on why COFU offered a sober bar in Vancouver and the history of pressed sushi.

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What is Pressed Sushi?

I had never before encountered pressed sushi, so I needed a little education. Pressed sushi is also known as oshizushi or hakozushi (box sushi). “Oshizushi is the origin of sushi,” COFU owner Akiko Otsuka told me. “It has been eaten in Japan for a long time.”

Oshizushi is pressed inside a wooden mold called an oshibako. “Since it is made using mold, it is hygienic and can be stored,” said Otsuka. She was a secretary for a large Japanese marketing firm before moving to Canada with her family in 2018. Then, she worked in restaurants until COVID hit. “Employment became unstable,” she said. “I decided to start my own business.”

遠藤商事 Endoshoji BSS23 Commercial Pressed Sushi, Yatsukiri (White Wood), Cypress, Made in Japan

Buy Pressed Sushi Box on Amazon Primeeligible

Otsuka features pressed sushi because it works so well as a takeaway food—crucial during the pandemic. “Also, like nigiri, oshizushi can be easily made with practice even if you are not a sushi chef,” she said.

What’s on the Menu for Vegan Sushi in Vancouver?

You can order the sushi omakase style, meaning the chef selects a set combo. I asked the server what the most popular was and went with the Sahi option. This included smoked salmon, short rib, portobello, marinated radish, and raspberry. Instead of the usual soy sauce and wasabi, my pressed sushi came with cilantro cucumber and wild carrot sauces.

My sushi—four pieces of each, plus artistically placed smears of sauce—was served on a black rectangular slab. It looked very colorful and impressive. The plant-based salmon and short ribs were standouts. While I was suspicious of the sauces, being a diehard wasabi fan, they were delicious—especially the cilantro cucumber. But if I were to do it again, I would trade out the raspberry and radish sushi, which was too bland for my taste.

Other sushi choices included tuna mayo, mango avocado, pumpkin, eggplant, red chard, and king oyster mushroom. Some sushi sets came with vivid beet sauce and spicy mayo. All the sushi is made with black rice. The chef creates the tuna from jackfruit, while carrots and the root vegetable konjac become faux salmon. The omakase menu costs $20 for 16 pieces or $15 if you order a drink with it.

Pressed sushi at COFU

There are many pressed sushi options at COFU. Photo courtesy COFU

Mocktails at a Sober Bar in Vancouver

COFU’s mocktail menu is impressive. You can order nonalcoholic plum wine or a gin and tonic made with Sobril’s N/A gin. COFU uses Lyre’s white cane spirit to make martinis or combines it with yuzu syrup to make a Soseki or lime and umeshu to make a Kawabata. If you got confused about that last sentence, you’re not alone. I had to look up yuzu—which turns out to be a citrus fruit—and umeshu, a Japanese plum liqueur. And the names of the drinks? “I wanted to name them after Japanese historical figures,” Otsuka told me. She became interested in mocktails after a friend stopped drinking alcohol.

Customers can also order N/A beers like Sober Carpenter, Partake, and Athletic or try tropical or raspberry beer sours. I got a little overwhelmed by all the names and flavors. Instead of going for the most adventurous options, I went with the Nobunaga or house-made ginger beer.

sober bar in Vancouver

Sushi and ginger beer. Photo by Teresa Bergen

Who Likes Vegan Sushi?

While vegans love COFU, other people are also drawn to plant-based sushi. Environmentalists worried about overfishing can indulge here. Those who don’t eat raw fish for health reasons, such as pregnant women, immunosuppressed folks, and those with seafood allergies, can also enjoy sushi.

The response has been excellent. Otsuka says she has won many repeat customers. This summer, COFU is launching a vegan ramen trailer as well. COFU products will soon be available online and in Vancouver supermarkets.

Visiting Granville Island

Granville is an island in the middle of False Creek, not far from downtown Vancouver. The best way to get there is to board one of the darling little False Creek Ferries. Be sure to leave some time for shopping. Many artists and artisans vend their work here. More than 50 independent food purveyors sell their wares from Granville Island’s public market.

False Creek Ferry

The False Creek Ferry goes to Granville Island. Photo by Teresa Bergen

Granville Island is also the starting point for several water-based activities, including city tours by Zodiac and kayak outings with Vancouver Water Adventures.

Suited up for a Zodiac cruise with Vancouver Water Adventures. Photo courtesy of Teresa Bergen

Suited up for a Zodiac cruise with Vancouver Water Adventures. Photo courtesy of Teresa Bergen

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Great Vegan Sushi in Vancouver

If you want to try COFU’s delicious sushi, make sure to time your visit right. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Monday for lunch from 12 to 3 pm and for dinner from 5 to 9 pm. On Tuesday, it’s lunch only. A half day on Granville Island is plenty for shopping, people-watching, eating a satisfying platter of vegan sushi, and drinking an innovative mocktail.

We hope you explore more about visiting Vancouver and other parts of Canada on Wander With Wonder. We also invite you to check out more places to explore sober travel.

Looking for vegan sushi in Vancouver? Or how about a sober bar in Vancouver? Find them both at COFU Pressed Sushi on Granville Island. | MyVancouver | Vancouver BC | Vegan Sushi | Sober Bar in Vancouver | Vegan Food in Vancouver | Granville Island Food


COFU Vegan Sushi and Sober Bar in Vancouver

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