Driving down 8th Avenue SW in Calgary I saw a “now open” sign hanging over a sushi restaurant. When it came time for Connie and I to grab some Sunday lunch (after attending the Calyx art show) I suggested Kanpai Sushi on 8th Avenue S.W.
Overall our meal was… ok. While there wasn’t anything distinctly wrong with anything at Kanpai, nothing really stood out for me to recommend you check them out, or to encourage me to return again.
First off, the service was ok. The food came out quickly, and as it was ready (rather than all at once which is good) but when we needed things, it was hard to get our server’s attention.
Decor & atmosphere
The interior was quite nice actually (and the restrooms were clean and nicely styled too – not a huge thing when it’s right, but its definitely better than when it’s wrong...
Then there’s the music… There was a weird mix on ranging from Alanis Morrisette to John Mayer (or one of those other male crooners…) which I found all just kind of annoying. Perhaps it was a matter of volume, or perhaps it was just that the music didn’t really suit the restaurant at all. Either way it was just a bad, disjointed fit.
Tuna & Salmon sashimi – $12.95
There were a number of rolls that we both wanted to try, so we agreed to split two rolls, and then we ordered individual items for ourselves. Connie had a plate of tuna and salmon sashimi along with a scallop (they didn’t carry her favourite Saba/Mackerel) while my individual item was a sashimi roll.
Sashimi roll – $9.95
The Sashimi Roll is listed as “tuna and salmon sashimi wrapped in rice paper with house special sweet sauce” – I’ve tried a rice-paper roll once before and didn’t like it because the rice paper was really thick and chewy- but this was perfect rice paper, and I’d have it on a roll again. However, I wouldn’t have THIS roll again. Missing the rice was fantastic, but the menu forgot to mention that the roll also included avocado and cucumber. The cucumber completely overwhelmed the delicate flavour of the sashimi, and the pieces were so small that it was hard to get any of the flavour other than cucumber.
Alpine Delight – $14.50
The first roll that we split was the Alpine Delight roll (or at least it was the first one I had!) which is listed as “fresh tuna, salmon, mango, cucumber, tomato, dill & red tobiko served with mango creamy sauce”. This roll, like much of the experience at Kanpai was ‘ok’. It wasn’t exceptional in any way… the mango wasn’t flavourful (although the drizzle of sauce on the plate was, I later found out when Connie urged me to try it) the tomato was without flavour, and there was far too little dill to get a dill taste to the roll. Ultimately the roll was underwhelming and forgettable.
Lotus Blast – $13.50
The second roll we split was Connie’s choice, the Lotus Blast. This is a “lightly battered crispy tuna, salmon cream cheese roll topped with spicy crab meat, (and a) lotus root chip served with teriyaki sauce”. Connie commented that she couldn’t really taste much flavour in the sauce, and I agreed. The spicy crab meat was tasty, and the lotus root chip was cute (but not really flavourful). The whole roll was battered (and fried) and served warm. It was interesting, but not something I’d order again.
I noticed a few things about the menu – first off there were a number of price corrections on it. I understand that suppliers change, and that when a new business starts it takes some time to work out the kinks, but it just looked bad to see SO many adjustments to their pricing.
I also noticed that a lot of the specialty rolls were similar to some of the other well-known sushi places in Calgary. Yet, there were a lot of things that were new to us which was great – though made it hard to decide! 🙂 I took a few photos of the menu – if you want to get a sneak peek of what you might want to order, click the photo for a larger version.
You can also see their full menu on their website.
Have you been to Kanpai? Let us know what you think (what are the stand-out best dishes and which ones to avoid…) in the comments below!
Kanpai Sushi on 8th
110, 1414 8th St SW
Calgary, AB T2R1R7