On the search for great All You Can Eat (AYCE) sushi in Calgary I took notice of Macleod Sushi & BBQ when I drove by – and their AYCE sign. A few weeks later I stopped by for dinner.
First off, I tried the sushi & bbq place up near SAIT a number of years ago, and really wasn’t impressed. The service was terrible and the food wasn’t good, and the smell of the bbq pits was kind of gross. Still, I was up for trying something new and didn’t want one experience to influence another – so I went in with an open and hopeful mind.
The first thing that struck me when heading to the Macleod Trail restaurant, was how full the parking lot was! It was 6:00 p.m. and the commercial area is also home to a computer shop and pub amongst other things, but entering the restaurant it was clear that it was a popular place!
Next, the smell. Unfortunately the smell of the little table-top Korean-style barbeque pits was quite strong, but we followed the hostess to our table. While we were seated immediately, as we were leaving (about an hour and a half later) there were three groups of people patiently waiting for a table. Despite that, I never felt as though we were being rushed to empty the seats.
So that brings me to the service – there were many, many servers – one who seemed to rotate constantly through with tea and water refills, and at least three others in our section delivering food and pop, and taking the slips for new orders. Although the servers were busy, I thought that they were quite efficient, and generally very friendly. We were also impressed at how quickly the food arrived at our table after ordering.
The interior – ok, now this is where things started to get worse… the decor is very dated, and probably could use a good cleaning and a new coat of paint. There was a good deal of dust on exhaust vents on the ceiling, and as my dinner companion noted the paint colours seemed disjointed and like something “out of the 1950’s”. The decorating also seems to be a bit chaotic, with all sorts of nick-nacks all over – it feels a little like a diner-meets-swap-meet inside. Worse still was the state of the washrooms…
The floors are sticky, there are no paper towels (just one of those blowers), feminine product waste containers were overflowing, and the toilets and walls of the stalls have visible dirt/soiling. Gross.
Onto the food…
We ordered the regular gyoza dumplings, and the spicy gyoza dumplings (not the deep fried ones) and found that the texture was nearly perfect, but the flavour and temperature was lacking. There wasn’t much flavour to either the regular nor the spicy gyoza, and they really could have been warmer. The spicy ones were served with a bit of spicy sauce on top, but no dipping sauce, and the regular ones were served with dipping sauce as expected.
We also had two different rolls each. Although the menu didn’t indicate that the rolls were deep fried – two of them were. I had the spicy tuna roll – and this was deep fried. The tuna inside was also cooked, which I didn’t anticipate at all. The spicy sauce wasn’t very spicy, the fried rice wasn’t to my taste, and I didn’t care for the tuna – so it all -in-all was a bit of a failure.
I also had a rainbow roll (pictured on the far left above) – it was alright, nothing special unfortunately. The rice wasn’t great – a bit gummy – but it wasn’t any worse than most fast-food sushi. (Well, ok, Co-Op sushi take out is better….) The menu was also challenging – while it had a wide variety of rolls, few had descriptions of what we could expect. Having never heard of a “yellow dragon roll” for instance, we didn’t know if we would like it or not.
Following our gyoza and rolls, we also had Agadashi Tofu, which suffered from the same problem as the gyoza – it lacked flavour, and could have been warmer.
The serving size is perfect though – small serving sizes makes it easy to try lots of different things – it just would have been nicer if the food had been better….
Next up –
- chopped scallop roll – more gummy rice
- tuna sashimi – alright – the peices were small, but that’s ok.
- salmon sashimi – I thought I had ordered tuna, but got salmon instead. Good flavour, but I didn’t like the fish scales…
- yam tempura – actually pretty good!
Finally we finished the meal with dessert. While my companion had the mango tapioca milk, I had the crispy banana, which I think was 1/6th of a banana, frozen, then wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and fried. It was interesting, but too greasy, and the banana was still frozen.
As you can guess, we weren’t very impressed with Macleod Sushi & BBQ. The food ranged between not good and mediocre, and although we thought the service was good, the atmosphere wasn’t. However, the place was really busy, so we might just not have been their target market. It also seemed that most of the satisfied diners were enjoying the Korean BBQ and not so much sushi, so perhaps that’s the trick to having a good meal here. Other than that, I might suggest this for large families with growing and large appetites for sushi to fill, but really there are far better other AYCE sushi places in Calgary with far better value for the money.
Macleod Sushi & BBQ
Suite 100-5211 Macleod Trail SW