I used to really enjoy Primal Grounds (a small cafe with fantastic sandwiches and desserts) but when they left their location on 37th Street SW, an asian restaurant called Hot Stone Rice Bowl moved in. I first popped in shortly after they started, and wasn’t impressed (although they advertised sushi, they didn’t have any, and the sandwiches they had on the menu weren’t nearly as good as Primal Grounds.
However, back in May (Goodness it has been a while! Time to go back!) I visited Hot Stone Rice Bowl again upon the recomendation of a co-worker, (and I checked out the comments on UrbanSpoon as well!) and I’m glad that I did!
Although the restaurant is just as casual as the coffee shop before, they have definitely defined their menu – the sandwiches are gone, and instead there are noodle bowls, bubble tea, sushi, sashimi, and other Korean and Japanese dishes.
While we were looking at the menu, the back page had something neither of us had tried before (though a friend of mine had recently recommended from another sushi house – Sushi Pizza. The Avalanche dish had Unagi sauce where the Volcano dish had spicy sauce in it’s place. While we were trying to decide on the rest of our selections, we ordered the Volcano Sushi Pizza. The Volcano Sushi Pizza include sushi rice (fried up tempura-style) with salmon, green onion, massago, lemon sauce, and spicy sauce.
The Sushi Pizza didn’t come first, but it did come very soon, and was very interesting! It was four pieces, about the same size as regular nigiri-style sushi. It wasn’t easy to eat with chopsticks, so we used our fingers instead – with me picking off the onion of course! The fried rice was kind of strange, but not bad. I’d definitely have it again if I was in the mood! Although I could definitely smell the spicy sauce, I didn’t find it too spicy – it was a good blend.
After ordering the appetizer, we got to work on the rest of the menu – although they had several different styles of nigiri sushi, they didn’t have ANY of our favorites… so instead we looked to the roll menu, since they had a few interesting rolls. While most of the rolls on the menu were pretty ordinary, they had four unusual ones – I chose the Rainbow Roll (since I wasn’t in the mood for most of the other styles) and my companion chose the Crazy Buster. We both also ordered a tuna and salmon sashimi, and we split an order of gyoza.
While we were waiting, the server delivered salad – we hadn’t anticipated this, and maybe if we had, we might not have ordered as much. Oh well! The salad was very nice – it seemed as though there were a lot of dressing when it arrived – but it was very light and tasted really good.
Our order arrived randomly, and a lot at once, so I don’t really remember the order in which it arrived, but I do remember the specific dishes.
So, first up that I’ll talk about is the gyoza. This was alright – a bit over-fried for my liking, but alright. It comes as a hard-to-share plate of 5. The filling was tasty, but I don’t really think that I’d order it again, simply because of the frying. It wasn’t as bad as the over-fried gyoza at MomoYama a while back, but just not the way I like it. The search for the best gyoza continues!
Next, the sashimi – this was pretty good – we appreciated that the price for just tuna, just salmon, or salmon and tuna (what we had) was the same – I have NO idea why some places charge an extra dollar to split the order… However it was a 7 piece order (3 tuna, 4 salmon) which we found strange – it meant sharing wasn’t going to happen anyways. The quantity (or rather, the size of each piece) was somewhat inconsistent -the salmon was pretty good, but the tuna was fairly small. The display was also really pretty – on seashells and little wooden wreaths, over ice. However, like the Chef’s Studio Japan in Canmore, I’m somewhat concerned that serving raw fish over items that can’t be sterilized might be a recipe for trouble. They were generous with the ginger though! If I have sashimi there again, I think I’ll just ask for it to be served on a regular plate.
Next up, my Rainbow Roll. Rainbow Rolls aren’t exactly something all that unusual – just a California Roll with layers of tuna, salmon, avocado, prawn, and in this case also mango on the outside. This also had a lovely topping of massago. There was a very faint drizzle of sweet sauce on the roll as well, which I actually really liked. The size of the roll was also JUST right – it was large enough to be satisfying, but not so huge that it had to be deconstructed in order to eat it…
My companion ordered the Crazy Buster – which DID have to be deconstructed to be eaten. She offered me a try, so I had the chance to try a piece. First off it was REALLY spicy – and between the onions and the garlic along with the spicy sauce, it was actually a bit too much for me. The Crazy Buster roll is a salmon spring roll wrapped along with tuna and salmon and served with the aforementioned onions, garlic chips and spicy sauce. Because the spring roll (yep, an actual spring roll!) was so firm inside each of the pieces, it was impossible to bite into neatly, so I had to deconstruct the roll to eat it. Although the flavours might have been nice – with the overwhelming spicy sauce, it was really hard to appreciate. I personally wouldn’t order this – but if you like super-spicy and different rolls, it might be worth the try!
The staff were very attentive and the food was pretty good – and the prices were pretty reasonable as well. I would definitely recommend going here if you are in the neighborhood. With a good selection of non-sushi items, it might also be a good place to go with a non-sushi-loving friend. I’ll have to suggest it sometime!
Parking is ok – there isn’t a lot, but the restaurant doesn’t seat a lot of people either. They have a small patio for the summertime, but it wasn’t open yet in May. They also seem to offer take-out, which might be worth a try one of these days as well.
So, have you tried the Hot Stone Rice Bowl yet – for sushi or one of their other dishes (like the hot stone rice bowl… haha)? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!
Hot Stone Rice Bowl
3003 37st SW