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Category Archives: Gyoza (Dumplings)

Gyoza from Joey’s seafood

Joeys Gyoza or Dumplings

Joeys Gyoza or Dumplings

I don’t always love gyoza, but I’m still constantly on the look out for really good gyoza. I found it – in a very unlikely (and very un-sushi-like) place – Joey’s Seafood!

These are their Shrimp Gyoza, described as:”Shrimp, veggies and herbs fill a sautéed Japanese Dumpling accompanied by a Ponzu sauce and drizzled with Hokkaido mustard.” – they had great flavour, great texture – and were easy to eat (rather than the ones that fall apart when you try to bite into them.  All in all, I was really impressed.  Of course, we had a whole meal, but really, it was the gyoza that I’d make a point of going back for.

I tried them in their High River location – so here’s hoping that they’re just as good at a Calgary location!

Joey's Seafood Restaurants High River on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Gyoza (Dumplings), Out of town - Alberta

 

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Sushi Bar Ren

I avoided Sushi Bar Ren for a number of years, despite it’s location which is conveniently close to me. After one visit recently, I realized I wasn’t missing anything, and wouldn’t return. Although their website says they are located in Signal Hill, they’re actually in the Richmond Plaza shopping centre near Canadian Tire and the Gym.

Conveyor belt sushi & service

Sushi Bar Ren interior

Sushi Bar Ren interior

In Sushi Bar Ren, sushi is delivered by train to stools around one of two counters. (While we were there only one was running, but there are two set up for when it’s busy.) The novelty of conveyor belt sushi has worn off for me, though it’s sure to amuse those who haven’t tried it before. However, there are many other places in and near Calgary that keep the novelty without sacrificing service or taste. Conveyor belt sushi is certainly less formal than table service, but I still anticipate a friendly hostess who keeps an eye on my drinks (and refills as needed), offers to explain the ordering system if needed, offers to take any orders of items not on the train, and pays attention to completion to bring the bill. Unfortunately, the hostess/waitress was not able to accomplish these tasks swiftly and without prompting. I suppose they rely on a black dry erase board behind the chef to communicate the ordering system with customers, rather than the personal touch.

I also like to think of sushi chefs as half chef, and half entertainer/host. Perhaps this isn’t why all chefs took up their trade, but I think that when you stand in the middle of the room crafting your dishes, you should come to the job with a smile and a desire to see your customers happy. Perhaps it was a bad day, but the chef seemed grumpy and unhelpful. After letting him know that we wanted to order a few things that weren’t on the train after he was done preparing a take-out order, he walked away into the back of the kitchen. I presume he had things he needed to do, but it would have at least been nice to give us a “be right back” nod or something. My companion assumed he was ignoring us and was done his shift or was taking a smoke break… When he returned and took our order, he didn’t give us everything we’d asked for, but with such an unapproachable demeanor, I wasn’t terribly interested in giving it another go.

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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Gyoza (Dumplings), South-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Macleod Sushi & BBQ

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.

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

First impressions

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.

Atmosphere

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…

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

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.

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

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.

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

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….

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

Macleod Sushi & BBQ

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!

    Macleod Sushi & BBQ

    Macleod Sushi & BBQ

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.

Macleod Sushi & BBQ - Frozen banana

Macleod Sushi & BBQ – Frozen banana

Conclusion

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
(403) 252-2999
Macleod Sushi & BBQ on Urbanspoon

 
 

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Chaya

Chaya. In Japanese, this means ‘life’. And with the name of this adorable, hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant, in Banff, it is a delight, every time I visit! A long-time friend of mine, who lives in Banff, had first introduced me, to this little place. (:

The last time I visited, was last weekend. I had friends from out east, visiting from Mahone Bay, In Nova Scotia. So, of course, I decided to introduce them to this lovely little spot, for some Japanese cuisine. It is not your typical Japanese restaurant, or Sushi Bar. Instead, it serves as both a tiny restaurant and take-out place. Now I know that may not sound promising, however; you will find yourself impressed with this place! (;

Once you arrive, you either stand just inside the door, or walk right up to the back counter. Most times, I end up near the door, where the lovely waitresses will hand you a menu. Once you have decided on your meal, you approach the counter to place your order. At this counter, there is a small fridge, which contains several different types of sushi rolls. The gyoza is also in there. From there, you can peek into their tiny kitchen area. It really is adorable, with their little curtains. The atmosphere in the restaurant is quite quaint, and friendly. The counter also offers iced water, chopsticks, & condiments. Once you place your order & have paid, you find yourself a table, and the food is brought to you, by the friendly waitresses.

Last weekend, I had gyoza, a tuna roll, (wrapped in rice, not the Nori, which is the seaweed) and a wonton soup. Both my friends had ordered the Pork Katsu. The meal was warm and delicious, especially when consumed with great company, in such a cozy environment. Makes you feel right at home. Plus, the bill only came to an approximate total of $40.00. Not bad at all! (:

But of course, I was so busy catching up with my friends, as I hadn’t seen them for almost five years, I forgot to take photos! I know, how could I forget? But no worries, I am planning to visit Banff fairly soon, in the near future, and will post photos then.

Therefore, if you are looking for a quick and diverse Japanese meal in Banff, Chaya offers a wide range of Japanese foods, at a modest price & environment. I find myself wishing there was a place like this in Calgary. Or perhaps there is, and some of you out there, could inform me about it!

So, if you are in Banff, and looking for a decent, warm meal, Chaya would be a more healthy choice, versus the go-to fast food restaurants in town! Let us know what you think!!

Chaya
118 Banff Avenue
Banff, Alberta
403-760-0882

 

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Sushi: back to Sushi Star

When in Vancouver recently, I was up for sushi for lunch, and decided to grab something on my walk back to my hotel from shopping. I hadn’t looked up anything, I just figured I would keep my eyes open.

On my walk I figured that I would look to see where the “loose moose” was (actually the Moose Lounge) as the band I had seen the day before had mentioned it. Wouldn’t you know, there was a sushi place right next door- the same one I had been to the evening before! With my dinner companions driving, I had never noticed how close Sushi Star was to my hotel!

This time, instead of re-ordering what I had enjoyed the night before, I ordered the Tuna Bento/Lunch box to go.

What a meal!

This comes with soup, salad, fruit, tuna sashimi, and a choice of either a spicy Tina roll or a tuna & avocado roll, edemame, and two gyoza. Wowzers! All of this was $11.xx!  Calgary sushi places could REALLY learn a lesson in value from this place!

The soup was good- I was pleased that it stayed hot for my walk home to my hotel on Granville. The salad was very tiny, but actually perfectly sized- wilted spinach is still a lot of spinach in a small size. This was very much like the wilted spinach salad that I make sometimes, though they used a lemon slice, and I usually use a drizzle of orange juice.

The edemame were perfect, with just a tiny touch of salt. I didn’t care for the gyoza I am afraid, the filling was good, but the exterior was too fried for my liking, and there wasn’t any of the vinegar/soy sauce that I really like.

Sushi and sashimi from Sushi Star

 

The tuna and avocado was reliably good, and the tuna sashimi was just as good as the evening before. Delicious!

I was really happy to re- find and re-enjoy Sushi Star!

Sushi Star
750 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC (604) 974-0079

Sushi Star on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Gyoza (Dumplings), Out of town - BC, Sushi

 

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Sushi: Hot Stone Rice Bowl

Interior – faces blurred for privacy

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!

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Back page of the menu

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.

Volcano Sushi Pizza

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.

Menu

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.

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Free salad

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.

Gyoza

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!

Tuna and salmon sashimi

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.

Rainbow Roll

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…

Crazy Buster Roll

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!

Menu

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.

The bill at the end…

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
Calgary, AB
(403) 503-0404

Hot Stone Rice Bowl on Urbanspoon

 
 

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Sushi: Banzai Sushi and Teriyaki House

Not too long ago Connie and I went for a little walk in the beautiful Confederation Park, and when we were done, we were up for sushi! (Big surprise, I know) Since it was a Sunday afternoon, there wasn’t much open, and so we decided to try a new place where we had never gone before.

I checked Banzai Sushi out on UrbanSpoon before we headed over there, and I have NO idea how the reviews are so high.  We were completely disappointed with nearly every element of the experience, from the menu to the taste to the quality. Even the prices were higher than the UrbanSpoon menu showed. The only pleasant part of our afternoon was the quick, discreet, and efficient service. I really should have read more of the reviews, instead of looking mainly at the stars and the few comments at the top.

I did try to look up their website before heading there – but it relies on a (Macromedia/Adobe) Flash interface.  Boo.  I use an iPhone.  You know the joke – iPhone doesn’t support Flash.  I called instead to find out their hours – though I had to repeat myself several times because it seemed as though the staff person didn’t understand me fully.

Gyoza

Gyoza

We started off sharing a 6 piece order of gyoza.  These were served with a sauce unlike what we were accustomed to.  Rather than the clear dark sauce, it was a thick, opaque yellow-brown sauce that reminded me a lot of peanut sauce in colour and consistency.  It didn’t taste like peanut sauce thankfully – I actually couldn’t really taste anything in it.  Connie said it was good though… However the gyozas were terrible.  Their one saving grace is that they were cheap – $2.xx for 6 of them – but still not worth getting in my opinion.  Like the previous disappointing MomoYama visit – they were deep fried; hard and crunchy, with an oily flavour.  The filling seemed unique, but unfortunately not tasty – or perhaps the terrible shell was so overwhelming that I couldn’t appreciate if the filling was tasty…?

While I’m on the hunt for the BEST gyoza in Calgary… I’ll put these at the bottom of the list as possibly the WORST gyoza I’ve ever had.  They were impossible to cut with chopsticks, and I had to rip them in half by hand.  Thank goodness we shared an order – 6 would have been far too many for one person in my opinion.

Banzai roll ($5.55)

Next up we split a Banzai roll – Avocado, Cucumber, Salmon, Tuna, and Tobiko.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t actually GOOD.  It reminded me very much of the plain, bland, sitting-around-for-an-hour fast-food, pre-made sushi that I’ve usually passed by.  (Versus the much more enjoyable take-out sushi for Co-op that I do enjoy.)  The roll wasn’t especially well rolled (it fell apart a bit) but it was fine.

Banzai roll

Spicy Tuna roll ($5.25)

Spicy roll with the Banzai roll in the background

Connie also ordered a Spicy Tuna roll for herself (and was generous in sharing one with me too!) and it was similar – the flavour entirely relied on the huge glob of spicy sauce smothering each little roll on top.  While I’m not generally a huge fan of spicy rolls, I do far prefer when the spicy sauce is mixed in with the roll, so the flavour infuses the tuna it’s meant to flavour… rather than assaulting the roof of my mouth when I eat it. Another disappointment.

Ginger

At this point we figured out that we were grateful for the generous amount of ginger offered on each plate – while normally a pleasant palate-cleanser before enjoying another flavour, we were using the ginger to get rid of an undesirable taste more than anything else….

Tuna sashimi ($11.95)

Next up we split an order of tuna sashimi.  We were a bit confused when there were three pieces that were dark, then three pieces that were very light, and then several (6? 7?) that were a medium-colour.  We presumed that it was a sampling of different cuts, and I personally was pleased, until I ate some of it.

The dark tuna had the texture of fish that had been frozen, defrosted, frozen again, and defrosted once again.  It was grainy and rough.  The flavour was also extremely ‘fishy’ – something that usually seems to note a lack of freshness.

The very light tuna was completely different, but really no better.  The texture felt very fatty – almost oily in it’s texture.  The taste was better, but not enough to get over the terrible texture. The medium-toned fish was very similar, just apparently folded on the plate a different way. It took drowning the fish in soy sauce to make it more manageable. Poor tuna…..

Tuna sashimi in the background - salmon in the background

Salmon sashimi ($11.95)

Finally we split an order of salmon sashimi.  This had far less fish on it than the tuna platter (despite the fact that the menu states they are sold by weight (4oz) but we weren’t too concerned.  There was plenty of fish on the plate, and at this point we were not at all excited about the sashimi awaiting us.

The salmon was actually ok.  The pieces were cut extremely thin (which was fine, considering our mood by this point) The texture was normal and the taste wasn’t too fishy.  I find it difficult to be too positive however, considering how disappointed I had been with everything else up to that point.  If I had just had the salmon sashimi, this post might be a lot more upbeat; it’s hard to say.

Atmosphere & service

The menu from Banzai

When you head into Banzai, you head to a fast-food style counter where there are menus posted.  There is no a la carte menu, (well, there is for nigiri sushi, but they only have three choices..) instead there are a dozen rolls, bento boxes, rice and noodle bowls, combos and party trays.  There is a small cooler for drinks with limited choice.  You place your order, are given a number, and then behind you is a counter with forks, spoons, glasses and ice to take yourself.

The service at the counter was quick, polite, and efficient.

There are a generous number of tables and booths – one behind the cutlery counter and the other to the right of the entrance.  While we were in there, there were a few other tables filled, but the restaurant was not full by far.  Oddly enough, the tables are too short for the benches at the booths – there is a significant gap at each end – so while the booths might seat 6 (skinny people!) the table is really only suitable for 4.  How odd!

The table and booths all seemed clean, and there is additional chopsticks, soy sauce, etc at the tables.  There were no dining plates though – only the serving plates and the soy sauce dishes. Odd.  Although they had given us a number, and I had been expecting to go up to pick up our order – a server instead delivered it to our table, which I appreciated.  She was discreet (didn’t interrupt our conversation) and prompt.  I imagine this was largely due to the fact that the restaurant was fairly quiet while we were there – during a busier period I imagine your number would be called instead.

Overall impressions

My bill

We determined that this is likely a place only to get rolls (or perhaps cooked items) rather than sushi or sashimi, and only then as a fair alternative to Edo of Japan sushi, though I wouldn’t ever bother having that either.  Needless to say, I will not be returning to Banzai sushi, and don’t recommend it to anyone who either enjoys sushi or wants to enjoy sushi.  The fact that Banzai is owned by the Japanese Village Alberta Group, is quite strange, because I’ve always had excellent quality at Japanese Village.

While the bill was low, the quality was lower, and the experience left a bad taste in our mouths (literally).

Banzai
526 4 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2P1V5
(403) 262-9060
banzairestaurant.ca

Banzai on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Downtown Calgary, Gyoza (Dumplings), Sushi

 

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Sushi: A mixed Momo-Yama experience

Of course, Momo-Yama is one of my favorite sushi places in Calgary (my favorite sushi place I’ve ever been to is in Vancouver…) but not too long I went to Momo-Yama with a friend (after a very nice afternoon of conversation, tea, and scrapbooking!) and my experience wasn’t nearly as good as it usually is.

Gyoza from Momo-Yama

We started off with a shared order of gyoza.  These are supposed to come in an order of 9 (which is difficult to split!) but they only brought us 8. They were deep fried (instead of pan-fried) and honestly, we didn’t miss that last one from the order.  They were very small and crisp – too crisp for our liking.  We generally like them when the dough is still soft (but not too chewy) and just crisp on one side from the pan.  The texture of the deep-fried gyoza was off-putting, and although the flavour of the filling might have been fine, I was overwhelmed by the oily, crunchy exterior instead.  Boo.

On another note, for the longest time they haven’t served tempura because they didn’t have the fryer (or so I was told one time, long ago).  I am guessing they have purchased a fryer, so perhaps tempura will be available soon… hopefully nothing like these gyozas though!

Next up we split an order of salmon sashimi ($12.50 for 8 pieces) and an order of tuna sashimi ($12.50 for 8 pieces).  While the tuna sashimi was nice large pieces with excellent flavour, the salmon was… bad.

Our sushi from Momo-Yama

 

The salmon was nearly impossible to ‘cut’ with my chopsticks, and while the size of the portion was fine, it was much smaller than the tuna, and also inconsistent.  Some pieces were large, while others were quite small.  Not a big deal, but it makes it harder to split an order.  The salmon was sinew-y and very difficult to eat. Ick.  Near the end, our server came by and I told her that it was not good, so she brought us four pieces of salmon to replace our order – these pieces were FAR better.  She indicated that the first order had been from the tail, while these new pieces were from the belly.  It made a huge difference – I would have reserved the pieces from the tail to be chopped up very small for rolls, not served for sashimi where the selection and cut is supposed to be premium – reflected by the premium price.

Ikura and chopped scallop from Momo-Yama

Connie had a roll which she said was well-flavoured, but rolled too loosely (and falling a bit apart) while I had much better luck with two pieces of absolutely delicious Ikura (Salmon Roe) battleship-style sushi pieces, and two of the special scallop pieces that were equally delicious.  She finished off her meal with her favorite Saba and an omlette nigiri sushi piece.

I appreciate the good service of bringing us replacement sushi, though I have typically higher expectations of Momo-Yama to start off with.  So, although I’ll be back (over and over again if I’m lucky!) I likely won’t order gyoza there anymore.

 
 

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Sushi: Marra’s Way in Canmore

Not long ago Connie and I took an impromptu trip out to Kananaskis and Canmore, and while we were there, we popped into Marra’s Way Sushi for lunch.  (Which had been closed when we had been in Canmore a few weeks earlier.)

The Menu at Marra's Way Sushi

We didn’t realize when we got to Marra’s Way Sushi that it was basically a fast-food/low service kind of place.  I suppose we might have noticed if we had paid more attention, but we were just looking for chairs (most of the seating is stools) and we must have been distracted…

The menus were delivered, along with our water, though it took a very long time to catch the eye of the server to let her know we wanted to place an order.

I guess we could have just gone up and taken what we wanted directly, but we didn’t know that until we were leaving!

Spicy Tuna roll

One of our first selections was to split a Spicy Tuna Roll.  I thought it was ok, not too much spicy sauce, but not really very memorable – and the roll wasn’t tight – so it kind of fell apart a little bit.  😦

gyoza

We always like to try the Gyoza, and when together it’s nice to split an order so we don’t have to have a whole plate of something terrible to ourselves…  In this case, we should have skipped the gyoza entirely.  The flavor was… ok, but the dough was TERRIBLE.  It was thick and chewy, and still tasted a bit of the oil it was cooked in.  There was very little filling compared to how much dough there was. Not recommended.

Special scallop

Next up – one of my favorites, the special scallop. (They call it the Creamy Scallop)  Why this came with spicy sauce, I have no idea.  I know from experience that I do NOT like spicy sauce on my special scallops, so I tried to get most of it off – but it was a bit too late and I didn’t care for these at all.  They rolls were also a bit sloppy put together… Strike three.

"B-Peppar" Tuna

On the positive, there were a few pieces of sushi that sounded good that we hadn’t tried before. First up was the “B-Peppar” Tuna, which we agreed to split.  I took off the onions of course, while Connie ate hers.  The peppered tuna was good, but nothing really remarkable.  I think I’d try it again, but it wouldn’t be the first thing I’d order.

In the back you can see one of Connie’s favorites, the Saba (Mackerel).

Ahi Poke

Next on the ‘new to us’ list – was Ahi Poke – chopped tuna with sesme seeds and sesame oil/chili oil/not sure.  I’d enjoyed Ahi Poke (non-sushi style!) while in Maui recently,, so we split an order of this too, and I’m afraid that I was unimpressed here too.  Like the B-Peppar Tuna it was fine, but nothing special.  It wasn’t really what I had expected either from my Maui experience…

What I trimmed out of the photo was the Tuna that Connie also ordered for herself.

Ikura

Ok, next up – another favorite of mine, Ikura (salmon roe) this was pretty unimpressive too.  Although it’s presented a lot more nicely (likely because of the higher price) Connie noted quickly that they hadn’t even filled the battle-ships to the top of the nori (seaweed) like most sushi places do.  It seemed a little cheap.  However, the rolls were well formed, and the roe was good – not as bright and “pop in my mouth” fresh as I have had elsewhere – but also not cloudy and icky like I’ve also experienced elsewhere….

Interior

The interior of Marra’s Way Sushi is very plain and unassuming.  It reminded me of a place where they’ve recently taken over someone else’s lease, or where it’s a start-up business in the first year or two of operation, without a big budget to decorate.  This isn’t a problem mind you, but a sharp contrast to the other Canmore sushi place we went earlier (Chef’s Studio Japan).  It’s a fine lunchtime quick bite; not a fine dining experience.

The table...

It was only as we were leaving that we saw the table of ready-to-eat sushi.  Likely this is where a lot of our sushi had come from (rather than being made fresh) which explains why some of our rolls seemed to be falling apart.  However, each of the dishes was covered, and some of it did look tasty!

f

Exterior

Here’s a quick shot of the exterior of Marra’s Way Sushi.  The door on the corner is not the entrance… the next door over is not the entrance either… it’s the third door (haha, with the “open” sign) that you wanna head for!  Perhaps they had been open all along when we went there last time, and it was only going to the wrong door that mixed us up!

Bill

So… our experience at Marra’s Way sushi wasn’t great.  The food was generally lackluster, the service was sparse at best, and the atmosphere was more food court than fine dining.  However… the price was good.  Here’s our bill to give you an idea – about half of what we’d likely pay at some of our regular sushi places.  So, the final conclusion – I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here, but if I was really hungry and wasn’t feeling too fussy, it might be a place worth going to instead of A&W or other fast-food joints.  I’d just only stick around if the chairs were free. (I hate sitting on stools….)

So, if you’ve been to Marra’s Way Sushi, let us know your thoughts below!  Was I too tough? Just right? Too easy?  If you want some other thoughts, check out Elsie Hui’s blog post about Marra’s Way Sushi, or Jen’s very positive post on the Calgary Foodies website.

Marra’s Way Sushi 
637 10 St
Canmore, AB
(403) 609-0479
Marra's Way Sushi Ltd. on Urbanspoon

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Gyoza (Dumplings), Out of town - Alberta, Sushi

 

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Sushi: Genki Sushi on Maui

The conveyor belt with signs letting diners know what they are choosing.

Well, it is highly unlikely that I’ll ever get back to Maui’s Genki Sushi in Lahaina, but I thought that I’d share some photos and thoughts from my vacation with the readers of Happy Sushi Belly!

Preamble

The menu from Kai Wailea

Our first sushi attempt was in the Shops at Wailea – an open-air mall with some really high-end shops (Betsy Johnson, Versace, Gucci, Rolex, etc..) at Kai Wailea.  Of course, one look at the menu, and we decided not to stop in – the prices were just too high to justify a quick lunch, especially since we were hot and sweaty – hardly feeling up for something posh.  (For an example of the prices, two Ikura is $8.95, a California Roll is $8.00, and 5 pieces of Tuna sashimi is $14.95…. this is about twice of what I’d pay back home…)  I’m sure the food was good – but not what we were in the mood for.

So, we headed down the road to Sansei Seafood & Sushi in Kihei.  Tucked into a little strip mall, we didn’t think this would be nearly as posh as Kai – but unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to find out – because when we got there (about 2:30pm… I never seem to want lunch at “lunch-time”) they were closed.  Bad luck for me – apparently they’re only open for dinner.  Looking at their menu – we might have been missing out – it looks delicious! (Though prices aren’t listed…)

Ok.. third time is the charm, right?  We headed into Lahaina and went to Zushi.  This is a TINY place in a strip mall.  I had seen the back of the shop from the highway, and found our way over there – only to find that it was also closed.

Giving up, we headed to the other side of the highway and over to the Outback Steak House, and instead found Genki Sushi!  I was really happy to finally get my fill of some Maui Vacation Sushi!

The Main Event

Chopped scallop

Like Sushi House Banff or Kinjoin Calgary, Genki Sushi is the “conveyor belt” style sushi restaurant, with limited table service (the server brought us water, but even juice and pop are available on the very long train) for additional items.  The menu, soy sauce and chopsticks are on the table, but everything else comes off the track.  (Including both wasabi and ginger.)  There is a menu on the table showing everything they have to offer, but before each of the items there is also a picture with the name of the item and it’s price which is really helpful and fun!  We did order two items (Cream Cheese & Salmon roll – aka a Philadelphia Roll, and an order of salmon sashimi) but everything else we picked off the track.

First up – chopped scallop roll.  This is normally one of my favorites, but this honestly wasn’t good and it set me up for low expectations.  The scallop had likely been sitting too long, and it was dry and a bit fishy tasting.  Not good.  Of course, if you read Happy Sushi Belly you know that Ikura is my other favorite – but they didn’t have any at the time being – though it is on their menu.

Volcano Roll – yummy!

Next up – I loved the look of the Volcano roll – a California-type roll, covered in mounds of chopped raw tuna and lots and lots of spicy sauce (not the spicy mayo, but rather the clear spicy sauce).  I grabbed it off the conveyor belt and had my expectations return – it was delicious, with tender tuna, hot spicy sauce (but not TOO spicy) and a nice fresh roll under the whole thing.  If I hadn’t wanted to try some of their other flavours, I probably would have had another!

While I had sushi, my companion (who isn’t a sushi-lover) was in the mood for some edamame – they had both a spicy version and a plain version.  I had one or two, and wasn’t overly thrilled (I like them when they’re freshly steamed and still hot) but she liked them well enough.  She also picked up an order of gyoza, which she said were very good, though I would have hesitated – since part of what I love of gyoza is that vinegar-sour sauce.

Tempura California Roll

She must have really liked what she tried, because she got adventurous, and tried their Tempura California Roll next.  This is a basic California roll… which has been battered and fried, then topped with spicy sauce (the clear one rather than the creamy one) and green onions.  It’s a bit too much for me – but I did try one piece and it was remarkably good – not at all greasy or heavy – though I don’t think I’d want more than a few pieces to myself.

Cream Cheese Roll – aka Philadelphia roll

Salmon Sashimi

My salmon sashimi came up next, and while it was good, it wasn’t remarkable.  The Cream Cheese roll (aka Philadelphia Roll) was next, and it was good, though not as well blended in terms of flavours as I was expecting. Of course, I picked off the onions, but I really liked the extra salmon on top!

Crab-mayo sushi

My companion was once again feeling adventurous and picked up an order of Crab Mayo – basically shredded crab meat mixed with Japanese mayonnaise in a battle-ship style sushi.  She said it was good, but not fantastic. Still… small steps!

Tasty Red Velvet cupcake!

Finally, I picked off the red velvet cupcake from the belt.  I have no idea how red velvet cupcakes fit in with sushi… but it looked delicious – and it was! Since we were pretty full, we split it, but if I hadn’t had so much sushi, I definitly could have eaten a whole one myself – with lovely light cream cheese frosting on top, and a nice moist cupcake with a squirt of chocolate sauce on the inside. Yum yum!

The conclusion

What I loved most about Genki Sushi was all of the selection.  There were so many different flavour combinations and new-to-me flavours(Spam sushi, onion-salmon, garlic-ebi(raw sweet prawn), garlic-salmon, yaki (seasoned and seared)-salmon, abalone salad battleship sushi, ahi (tuna) poke battleships, hot dog rolls, garlic-ahi, their Genki burger, and a bunch of vegetarian options like spring bean tempura, cold and cooked tofu, eggplant fry sushi, ocean salad battleships, plus several non-sushi items to like several salads, and cooked dishes.)  With that being said, since I don’t like onion or garlic, those ones weren’t on my must-try list… and many of the other unique options weren’t available at the time we were there.  Others I might have tried if I had seen them on the belt, but I wasn’t up for ordering a full order sight unseen.  Next time!

The sushi approaches!

Also, the prices were great.  All the reading I’ve done about conveyor-belt style sushi makes it sound as though it should be a fast-food price-level experience. You don’t get lots of personal service, and the chef can make whatever is selling best or whatever he has the ingredients for.  With this in mind, the price point SHOULD be lower than a la carte sushi IMO.  Genki Sushi finally lives up to this.  (See my price chart below.)

What I liked least – was that almost none of the dishes were covered in any way.  The salads were mostly covered (likely to keep them fresh longer?) but very little else was.  I suppose it’s my paranoia after seeing people at other conveyor-belt places pick things off the belt, look at them (and breath on them) and then put them back that puts me a little off the lack of coverage – especially when the restaurant is long and narrow.  At a place like Sushi House Banff you can see what all of your fellow diners are doing – here you wouldn’t be able to.  (Which certainly has it’s advantages as well…)  I guess you just have to trust your fellow diners to maintain the same level of cleanliness and tact that you yourself have!

Our final bill

Genki Sushi has locations in Hawaii and Washington state in the USA, along with locations in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong… if you’ve traveled to any of those places (or, if perhaps there are some international readers!) and have tried Genki Sushi – what do you think?

Price chart

Sushi Menu price
Salmon sashimi $3.95/ 4 pieces
Special scallop $2.30 / 2 pieces
Edamame $1.55 / 1 bowl
Cream cheese roll / Philadelphia roll $3.95 / 4 pieces
Volcano roll $4.95 / 4 pieces
Gyoza $2.30 / 3 pieces

Genki Sushi‎
345 Keawe St # 301
Lahaina, HI 96761-2731
(808) 661-0333
genkisushiusa.com‎

Genki Sushi on Urbanspoon

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Gyoza (Dumplings), Out of town - USA, Sushi, Treats

 

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