Low-key Japanese dining in the heart of Gastown 

by Fiona MorrowTucked away in one of Gastown’s hidden corners behind Water Street, Shirakawa is the perfect spot for a discreet business lunch without the need to travel out of the neighbourhood.

Entrée-sized salads build traditional Japanese dishes (like spinach gomaae) into satisfying and healthy lunch options. More substantial choices—steak in butter and soy—are served on elegant Japanese stoneware, with rice and excellent miso soup. Service is friendly, efficient and low key, allowing your discussion to flow naturally without unnecessary interruptions.

Chef Takuya Motohashi revamps his menu completely each season, focusing on vegetable-forward plates for spring and summer. That’s also when the restaurant’s big solarium-style windows pull open to allow tables to spill out, European-style, into Gaoler’s Mews. ( •

BEST TABLE There are lots of good options, depending on your preference. For comfy and discreet, book a table along the banquette; if you’re after a blast of energizing light, head for the tables in the front section next to the floor-to-ceiling windows. DRINK UP Try a sake lemonade, spiked with vodka and made deliciously refreshing with sprigs of fresh mint, or enjoy an Asahi Super Dry on tap. To finish, take your shot of caffeine via the coffee-imbued umeshu (a sweet and sour Japanese plum liqueur).MUST-TRY ORDER Stay light with one of the main course salads or a sushi or sashimi dish, or go whole hog with the deservedly popular kakuni (slow-cooked pork belly in a sweet soy reduction, served with hot yellow mustard).INSIDER TIP Looking to host a private business meeting without paying private dining room prices? Shirakawa’s bar area is completely hidden from the restaurant proper, and diners can enter via Trounce Alley for complete discretion.