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Category Archives: North-West Calgary

Maruju Sushi on Centre Street YYC

Tuna, avocado, and mango 'tartar' from Maruju sushi on centre street just north of Chinatown in Calgary

Tuna, avocado, and mango ‘tartar’ from Maruju sushi on centre street just north of Chinatown in Calgary

There’s a meeting place I’ve been going to a lot lately, but I always seem to mis-time how long it will take for me to get there from work… so I always end up being 30-60 minutes earlier than I need to be. While normally I’ll pop over into Starbucks across the street… one time I stopped in at Maruju Sushi.

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The Big Cheese – poutine in Kensington

Montreal Smoked Meat poutine from The Big Cheese in Kensington

Montreal Smoked Meat poutine from The Big Cheese in Kensington

A few weeks ago I was walking home really late and popped into The Big Cheese for a bite to eat – I was really far from home still and there were very few (non-bar) places open, so it might not have been my destination of choice, but it was a good option.

The menu of The Big Cheese in Kensington

The menu of The Big Cheese in Kensington

I ordered the Montreal Smoked Meat poutine, in the smaller size rather than the larger one – and it was really way too big. Not just the quantity of the food, but also once the fries and gravy cooled off – they were kind of icky. I’d rather split this with someone else and get it while it’s hot and tasty.

The meat was good, the fries were good, the grainy mustard was super good and I will NEVER turn down a pickle.. yum. So overall, I’d definitely have this again – though I think I’d rather go with a friend and split an order. (And then maybe go next door for dessert… hehe)

What about you – where’s the best poutine in Calgary in your opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2017 in North-West Calgary

 

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Red Ember Japanese Cuisine

Two sushi posts in a row!

Not long ago my friend suggested his favourite sushi place – Red Ember in the Kensington area. While it’s a small place, and there’s not much nearby parking, I thought it was great and would recommend you check it out too!

Sashimi and a roll from Red Ember

Sashimi and a roll from Red Ember

I had an order of tuna sashimi, along with a Kamikaze roll (Special Scallop, Tempura Flake, Tobiko, Wrapped with Tuna). The tuna sashimi was only fine- nothing special either way, however the Kamikaze roll was fantastic.

The location might be the only thing that would keep me from heading back to Red Ember – though perhaps my friend who lives close to the area will want to make a return visit sometime again!

 

Want to know more? Check out Red Ember here:

609 14 St NW
Calgary, AB
T2N 2A1
Red Ember Japanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2015 in North-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Yummy Yume Sushi

 

"Yume Roll" at Yume Sushi (a salmon, mango cali roll)iPhone photo

“Yume Roll” at Yume Sushi (a salmon, mango topped roll)iPhone photo

After a really disappointing experience with a sushi place, I had the totally opposite experience recently visiting Yume in northwest Calgary.

Driving up to Yume, my expectations were pretty low – their website hadn’t worked in the morning, the location was in a strip mall (next to a closed hair salon), and the interior, while clean, was simple and a bit ‘cheap’ looking.  While I had gone for sushi last with high expectations that weren’t met – my expectations of Yume were really low, but the food was really good!

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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in North-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Tea: Oolong Tea House (Kensington)

Tea and a matcha smoothie from the Oolong Tea House

Tea and a matcha smoothie from the Oolong Tea House

Kensington is one of those districts that I used to practically LIVE in when I was a teenager and young adult. I loved the vibe in Kensington, loved the shops, and loved just wandering up and down the street before grabbing a coffee (back in my pre-tea days) at the corner coffee shop before hopping on the train to head home.

These days, I’m lucky to get down there once a year… you might remember that my last post about the Oolong Tea House in Kensington was all the way back in 2011! I did get down there at the end of January (to head to the last days of Kensington Art Supply’s moving sale!) and before heading home I stopped into the Oolong Tea House for a refreshment.

Tea and a matcha smoothie from the Oolong Tea House

Tea and a matcha smoothie from the Oolong Tea House

I was at first really tempted to try out a chocolate truffle flavoured black tea, but after walking around outside bundled up in winter gear, I was actually pretty warm, so opted for a matcha smoothie made with almond milk. It was super delicious, with the almond milk adding in loads of sweetness to match the slight bitterness of the matcha. My companion on the other hand opted for a lavender tea with honey, which was even better still (of course we had to trade sips!) I thought her tea tasted like perfume, and within the first few sips she decided to grab a small container to take home too.

The price… considering that the clerk doesn’t time the tea steeping for you, and the water comes out at one temperature from the hot water heater tap (and there’s no timer to let you know how to avoid over-steeping your tea) I found the price a wee bit high. (Though still comparable with your half-caff, no foam, cinnamon sprinkled latte..) To get loose leaf tea to go, they sell it in a “small, medium, or large” container – but I wasn’t sure how many grams of tea would go in each size.

While we were wandering up and down the main shopping streets in Kensington, we also noticed that Naked Leaf location was for lease.  Checking out their website, it looks like they’ve just relocated, but I didn’t see them in our wandering… I keep missing my chance to go there!

Oolong Tea House on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in North-West Calgary, Tea & Beverages

 

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Sushi: Sakura Sushi Japan

Slightly slow service and small sushi selections was balanced by excellent sashimi, good prices, and a calm, pleasant interior. I wouldn’t put Sakura at the top of my visit-again list, but if you’re in the area, it’s worth checking out.

Sakura Sushi Japan

While off on Saturday adventures (which included visiting a Pagan market and the Calgary Opera summer festival) Connie and I looked for some lunch… and what else would we choose, but sushi!

Ikura at Sakura

Ikura at Sakura

Located in an unassuming strip mall (which features 2 bars, a liquor store, and a payday cash advance location)  Sakura Sushi Japan doesn’t look like much from the outside. Although it was a bright and sunny day (about 27°C) the interior was dark – much more of an ‘evening’ sort of atmosphere than a daytime lunch feel. The interior is quite small as well, with perhaps 7-9 tables (I didn’t actually count) but as a good sign – about half of the tables were full once we sat down.

We visited after lunchtime as well (about 1:30 p.m. because of a late start to our day) so I wonder if it might have been busier if we had visited during the lunch or dinner ‘rush’.

We started with Agadashi Tofu, which I was quite impressed by.  The pieces were large, and the dish was well-seasoned, hot, and the tofu was firm.

both selected tuna sashimi (which was thinly sliced, but very, very good) and then while I chose my favourite Ikura (salmon eggs) and chopped scallop battleship sushi pieces, Connie went for her favourite Saba (mackerel) along with a chopped scallop for herself and a Hotate (scallop). Her Saba and Hotate both looked delicious (though I’ll let you tell you more herself!) but we both agreed that the battleship-style sushi pieces were very small.  (Only a few days later we were in Sushi House Banff, where she commented “now this is what  chopped scallop should look like!”)

Most of the sushi is $1.50 each, which is a pretty good price for sushi in Calgary – click the “price chart” tag to see some of the other sushi places where we’ve shared the current price chart at the time of our visit.

Price chart

Sushi Menu price (before tax)
Salmon & tuna sashimi $9.00/ 7 pieces
Special (chopped) scallop $1.50 / each
Ikura $1.50 / each
Agadashi Tofu $5.00/ 6 pieces

If you live (or are visiting) nearby, and are interested in take-out sushi, their online menu offers a discount for take-out orders – visit their website for their menu and contact information.

Sakura Sushi Japan
6219 Centre St NW
Calgary, AB
T2K 0V2
(403) 460-9866

Don’t forget to follow Happy Sushi Belly on Facebook! I’m sharing videos and links there, as well as regular updates from the Happy Sushi Belly blog!  Looking for a few other opinions on Sakura before Connie shares her impressions? Check out Follow My Food Trail’s blog post, the Hitting the Sauce blog post, or Kelly’s Culinary Adventures.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2013 in North-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi: Sushi Boat in Crowfoot

Last April, Connie and I visited Crowfoot shopping area and popped into Sushi Boat for some conveyor-belt-style sushi.  In January of this new year, I went there again, this time with a non-sushi-loving friend.

Sushi Boat in Crowfoot

Sushi Boat in Crowfoot

We went at dinner time on a Monday, and were seated in a booth almost right away.  The restaurant was noisy, but not so much that we were impaired from our conversation.  I was mildly disappointed with the selection though – some boats were full to the brim (mostly of things I wasn’t interested in) while other boats were completely empty.  We were disappointed that there wasn’t a menu near the entrance to preview the selection – mostly because my companion (dumplings) loves gyoza and they didn’t have any. Yam tempura and shrimp tempura were also on the menu, but she didn’t feel like that.  Instead she stuck with an order of (cold) edaname (we both prefer it hot), a few crab sushi pieces, and a shrimp tempura and cucumber roll (which unfortunately had cayenne pepper on the outside so was less enjoyable than it might have otherwise been.

For my meal, I had a few pieces of my favorite chopped scallop (a little too much mayo like last time, but otherwise ok) tobiko (overflowing with eggs), tuna (bland and not as fresh and tender as I would have liked), and scallop (which I’m pretty sure made me sick that night.. but was nice and sweet).

The price of unagi has gone up considerably, according to the frequent and large signs throughout Sushi Boat, but that isn’t something I enjoy anyways, but either other pricing has changed or chefs were making mistakes in the plating because what should have come on a red plate (one price) came on a green plate (a lower price).  I wasn’t going to argue though.  Our final bill for the two of us came to just over 25$ which I thought was fair – the food isn’t exceptional but it is alright, the service isn’t great, but it’s fine (we were seated quickly and our water delivered and topped up promptly – but I don’t expect a lot of service other than that at a boat-style sushi place), and the selection is somewhat varied but not extraordinary.

Overall, I still would prefer to order freshly made items from the menu, and wouldn’t consider this one of the better conveyor-belt sushi places I have been to, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a quick sushi fix between running errands or shopping in the area.

Sushi Boat
806 Crowfoot Cres NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 239-1818

Sushi Boat in Crowfot

Sushi Boat in Crowfot

Sushi Boat on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in North-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi Club K’z

I have read a number of good comments about Sushi Club K’z (or just Sushi Club) online (mostly on UrbanSpoon) and when Connie suggested that she, Shannon, and I check it out in November, I was actually really looking forward to it. It’s one of those locations that is never really where I’m at – just far away from my normal routes to be out of mind, and not good enough parking to make a plan to go there usually – when there are so many other places with better parking.

My overall impression was that all of the good reviews online about Sushi Club are exagerated – Sushi Club is good, but not exceptional.

We made a reservation for 6pm, and got there early at about 5:45 and got right in – we were only the second table to fill when we got there, though by the time we left the place was full. (No one was waiting for our seat, but I don’t think there were many (if any) empty tables either.)  Shannon ordered tea while Connie and I both stuck with water.  The glasses were tiny, but our server came back frequently to top them up throughout our meal.

Quick iPhone photo of Sushi Club’s interior

We went there on a Sunday night, and were told that their freshest fish of the night was tuna – but I was much more interested in some of the unique rolls they offered. We looked at the menu and were a bit overwhelmed – between the long lists of ingredients in each roll and the distracting menu background (along with much chatter at our table) it was hard to pick something.

The special roll menu at Sushi Club

One thing we noted, was that almost all of the special rolls either had Unagi (eel) or tempura in them. Neither are favorites of mine (I love yam tempura, but that’s about it….) which made it harder still to order.

I settled on the Midori Dragonfly, while Connie had the Suteki Roll.  We both added our favorites (mackerel, scallop, and tuna for Connie, Salmon roe and chopped scallops for me) while Shannon stuck to three simple rolls – an avocado roll, the spicy crunchy roll, and a California roll (I think) along with a bowl of miso soup. The menu did note that additional ginger was extra, so we were pretty disapointed when only a tiny container of ginger came for the three of us to share.  Shannon, (who puts a piece of ginger on each of her pieces of sushi) ordered another bowl of ginger – one small cup wasn’t going to be enough for her alone – let alone the three of us!

Sushi Club’s Midori Dragonfly

I started off with the Midori Dragonfly which has Unagi (eel), Flying fish roe, wasabi tobiko, and green tea powder. It is topped with incredibly finely sliced avocado, and wassabi tobiko.  The roll was very crunchy (because of all the fish eggs, which I liked) but very dry. (I presume because of the green tea powder).  I found it vaguely fishy because of the eel – which isn’t a favorite.  It was unique and interesting, but not something I think I’d order again.

Suteki Roll

Connie’s Suteki roll was a little bit better (I had one of hers and she had one of mine) with smoked steelhead, smoked black cod, asparagus, flying fish roe, cream cheese, mayonaise, prosciutto, mango, avocado and black and white balsamico. I found that the prosciutto was the strongest flavour, followed by the smokey taste f the fish and finally the cream cheese flavour.  I liked this better than my own – but I think that I would get tired of it after a while – maybe a nice roll to share, but not one I’d want on my own.

The rest of our sushi from Sushi Club (what a strange angle too!)

I also tried a piece of Shannon’s spicy crunchy roll.  This includes corn flakes of all things – which I found had become too soggy with the moisture in either the rice or the sauce to really be crunchy – and I found the spicy sauce just too spicy to enjoy. However, I’m not normally a big fan of spicy sushi (with a few exceptions), so it’s not surprising that I wasn’t thrilled with it.

Have you been to Sushi Club? What do you think? Let us know what you like best in the comments below!

Sushi Club K’z
(403) 283-4100
1240 Kensington Rd NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4X7

Sushi Club K'z on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in North-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi: Sushi Boat Crowfoot

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.

Conveyor-belt-style sushi

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.)

Salmon

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 sushi

Salmon skin

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.

Chopped scallop

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!

Tobiko sushi

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.

Tempura roll

Tempura roll

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

Atmosphere

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.

Price

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.

Wrapping up

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!

Sushi Boat
806 Crowfoot Cres NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 239-1818

Sushi Boat on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in North-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi: Umi Sushi Express

I think that I’ve annoyed the sushi gawds, because I’ve been having several disappointing sushi experiences lately.  While I like the concept of trying new places, perhaps I had better go back to my old tried-and-true sushi places for a while to get over this sushi hurdle!

With such a positive (haha, sarcasm!) introduction, I’m sure you can guess that my experience at Umi Sushi Express wasn’t fantastic.

Umi Express sushi

Once before I went there, and didn’t end up getting anything (I don’t spend much time up at Market Mall) but this time I did – a combo with 8 pieces of a crab meat roll and three pieces of nigiri sushi: tuna, salmon, and prawn.  This is generic, ordinary fast-food, food-court sushi – the selection is minimal, and the likelihood of your sushi having been sitting there for hours before you consume it, high.

It was fine.  There was nothing special about it either way – this is not a negative review, but rather an apathetic one.  Would I have sushi there again – probably not, but it would depend if I was in the mood for a boring burger, or boring sushi.  Would I recommend it? No.  Would I suggest avoiding it? Also no.

Yawn.

Umi Sushi Express (Market Mall)
3625 Shaganappi Trl NW
Calgary, AB T3A5P9
(403) 247-8878
umisushiexpress.com

Umi Sushi Express (Market Mall) on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in North-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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