In early April, Connie and I headed to a sushi place neither of us had been to before, but that she had heard excellent things about.
Like a few of the other places we’ve been, Sushi Boat is a conveyor-belt-style sushi restaurant – one of the places where you sit around the sushi bar, and a belt (often a train or a series of boats) travel around on a conveyor-belt and you take the sushi from the belt to your table.
Inside the very busy Sushi Boat
Like Kinjo, Sushi Boat is fairly noisy. Unlike Kinjo, however, I found the staff much more enjoyable.
Like Sushi House Banff, Sushi Boat is very busy, but unlike Sushi House Banff, there is much more room in Sushi Boat – and they offer bar seating (good for one or two people, but it’s too noisy if there are more people) table seating, and booth seating. Both the table and the bar is on stools as well – so I was glad to sit in the booth. We had a short wait to be seated (on a holiday Friday, during their lunch period.)
Like Genki Sushi in Maui, Sushi Boat has a chart indicating the prices, and the prices are fairly good, but like all of the conveyor-belt sushi places, the quality seems highly dependent on how fresh the sushi is. (And thus the most popular items are likely to be fresh, but also likely to disappear quickly.)
The first plate I took from the belt was nigiri-style salmon sushi. I thought it was really good, and I liked that they offered the regular soy sauce and the sweet sauce. There was really nothing special about it, but it was good – a nice change of pace from some of the less positive experiences I’ve had with sushi in my previous few posts.
Salmon skin roll
Next, we decided to split the Japanese Squash roll. This comes on a plate of four – both of us wanted to try it, but neither of us were keen to have all four pieces if we really didn’t like it. That was a very good choice, because on the same plate colour was also the Salmon Skin roll – and the pictures looked very alike. What I thought was the squash roll was actually salmon skin, and I really didn’t care for it at all. The flavour might have been ok, but the roll (both the filling and the rice) was extremely dry. I’m glad I tried it, but it won’t go on my “try again” list – though the dryness might have had more to do with the sushi sitting out too long (and not being freshly made) rather than the actual flavour itself.
Placing an order
Next up I placed an order for three items that I had read on the menu, but had not seen on the belt. The belt was mostly covered in rolls – and I wanted my battleship-style sushi pieces – chopped scallop, tobiko, and ikura.
First up, the chopped scallop. I thought that there was far too much mayo in these, and although they tasted fine, there was really nothing special about them. Like my previous visit to Fuji Yama, they used the pale tobiko in the mix, which didn’t POP in colour the way I love.
Next, the ikura. I don’t love it when places fill up half the battleship with cucumber – the cucumber doesn’t help the taste of the ikura to me at all, it just comes off as cheap… The ikura in this case was fine – the eggs were firm and not at all cloudy.
Finally from my order, the tobiko – these were actually really good, brimming over with the tiny eggs. Delicious!
It was a bit hard to get the servers attention, and they don’t seem to have sections – we had service from three different servers throughout our meal. While this is great – it would have been nice to know this going into Sushi Boat, since I waited until I saw ‘our’ (or who I thought was ‘our’) server to place my order.
Next up, we split one of the big rolls that we saw the chef cutting up – a salmon, onion and cucumber, wrapped up with a lot of rice, seaweed, and then fried up like tempura. This was really large, and having one piece was really more than enough. The roll stayed together very well though – unlike some of the other large rolls that I’m used to (and like what Connie had herself…) The flavour of this one was nice – the tempura has a nice crunch, and the onion was not at all overwhelming – I normally can’t stand onion in dishes, but since this was green onion, and there was SO much rice, it wasn’t bad. This was a good three-bite roll though!
At that point, I sort of figured that if another salmon nigiri (or better still, tuna!) came around, I’d grab it – but other than that, I was pretty full. Unfortunately, no salmon (or tuna) came around, so that was where I ended my meal!
Each of the dishes is covered with a little bowl
As I mentioned before, Sushi Boat is very noisy, with chefs ‘throwing’ new dishes onto the boats regularly. However, it was not so noisy to keep us from having a nice conversation during our lunch.
One interesting thing that we noticed (ok… Connie noticed!) was they used two machines to handle their rice. One was loaded up, and deposited uniform little mounds of sushi rice for nigiri sushi and battleships, while another pressed out flat sheets of rice upon which the chef would layer the seaweed ready for rolls. These were pretty interesting to watch, and certainly speeds up the time needed to make the different dishes to maintain high volume… At the same time, it sort of takes the ‘art’ out of it too…
I appreciate that they do the tempura in the back, rather than out where customers can see, but there was also a chef cutting up three fish while we were there. If I were a vegetarian, I would have found this highly offensive, and even as it was, I found it really disgusting and off-putting. It is just something I really, really don’t want to see. Slicing sashimi or sushi selections from a larger piece of fish I don’t mind, but this was pretty gross to me. This too, should be done in the back; out of sight.
The prices seemed pretty good -not outstanding, but alright. There were also a few specials on – highlighted on a white board (which makes me believe that they regularly have these specials). When we indicated we were ready for the bill, a server came to count our plates, but got a little confused. Another server then came and confirmed (and corrected) his count, and then those sheets we took to the front desk. My order came to $15.xx, which I thought was pretty reasonable. Oddly enough, with this method, there is really no way of offering a gratuity, which I only realized after the fact. Since the servers all seem to be all over the place, and the person who seats you, brings you water, takes your orders, and handles your bill could be three or four different people, I guess this makes sense, and since they aren’t really doing a LOT in terms of service, it makes sense too – but I still found it strange.
So, what are YOUR thoughts on conveyor-belt style sushi? Have you been to Sushi Boat? If you want to read some other opinions, check out Food for Thought, who offers up a positive review, or Calgary Eats which has a very negative review. If this sounds familiar, you might have read Connie’s review earlier! If you have thoughts of your own, please share them in the comments below!
806 Crowfoot Cres NW