EricMM: Not all eel imported from Japan is raised in China. Japan has it's own eels. But there are companies that label it as Japanese eels though, as you said, raised in China. It's a problem here that the government crack down on from time to time. As you can imagine, Japanese eels fetch a higher price so the dubious ones have a go at tricking consumers.
As for preparing a live eel, the easiest way is to nail the live creature into your wood cutting board at the head near the spine, make a slit behind the fin on the side, and then drag a short strong knife down the length of the belly on one side of the skeleton while using your other hand to hold the eel down. Don't punch through the back. Then slip the knife under the skeleton and repeat same procedure. All this should take less than 40 seconds. Next pour some hot water, scrape of the scum with a knife or hard brush and rinse in cold water.
Or alternatively, gut the eel, cut off the head, make a slit at the tail, use some paper towel to get a good hold on the slippery tail and then filet the beast. Repeat. Skin side up, press them onto a cutting board enough so that they adhere well, place the cutting board in the sink at an angle so water goes into the sink and pour boiling water on the skin until it's opaque. Use the backside of a knife to scrape off all the "ectoplasm", the scum. And cook how you like.
In Japan, steamed and then dip in tare and grilled over some awesome charcoal.
Fire?!? Noooo! I haven't been back for the past 3 years now. I grew up on the dim sum there.
What do you think of Raincity Grill? Just like Bishiop's, they're big on locally sourced ingredients.
Gotta go to Granville Island. It's a farmer's market with some butchers, fishmongers, fromagerie, and art studios. Plus there's a brewery and a culinary school there.
Hello...actually, I wrote this long reply to this but I click on the wrong button and went away from the page at the end of my Illiad of suggestions. Which might be a good thing, because maybe you didn't have to read all that. But it's 3 am here in Tokyo so I'll just give a few suggestions you can follow up on. We'll talk more.
Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler (1.5 hr drive from Vancouver) The lovely Golden Plate Award winner Melissa Craig heads great establishment.
The Salmon House - Best bet for some Haida Native food.
Tojo's - sushi. Let the chef make whatever he feels like for $80, $100, $120. Or chicken out and order a la carte.
Pink Pearl - Awesome dim sum in a dodgy part of town. Seats over 150.
Sun Sui Wah - Great dim sum at the Richmond branch. Great roast squab, Peking duck, steamed ling cod in black bean sauce...Excellent Chinese food.