As I mentioned in my last post, I visited Sushi Aji twice during my visit to Vancouver last weekend. My first visit was wonderful, with delicious sushi and sashimi. This time around though I decided I wanted some of their cooked food, and decided to take advantage of their all-day meal deal – three items plus soup for under 11$. (Oh Vancouver… how you torment me with your affordable sushi…)
Tag Archives: gyoza
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!
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
I was in Hawaii (on the Big Island) in February, and had to stop for sushi while I was there… I stopped at a fast-food (conveyor belt) sushi chain place, where the service was minimal, but the food was (reasonably) good.
I say reasonably, because there were my favorites on the belt – but I really felt that they weren’t fresh, so they weren’t nearly as good.
However, I followed that with orders from the menu instead of taking things from the belt, and they were much better.
I had an order of salmon eggs (Ikura), plus a Volcano Roll (a California roll topped with spicy tuna).
I also split an order of gyoza (alright, but not great) while my companion had the crab salad sushi.
We also split an order of bean curd filled with Tuna salad – which I didn’t really like… but at least it was something different!
Our total bill came to $27.00 including tax. Pretty good!
74-5450 Makala Blvd #202 Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Sushiyama. Excellent fresh sushi, without costing you an arm & a leg. As I had mentioned in a previous post, regarding Izumi Sushi, I was in Vancouver, for the Michael Jackson Immortal Tour with Cirque du Soleil, back in August, and had also decided to catch up with an old friend of mine. We hadn’t seen each other for twelve years or so! Crazy how time does fly by. Naturally, I suggested sushi. There were no objections there. Hooray! So, he took me to his favorite sushi restaurant. It happened to be located in Burnaby, on Kingsway, not too far from where my hotel was. Well, walking-wise, it would’ve been too far, but he came to pick me in his car, much quicker. And off we go, to fill our bellies with yummy sushi! (-:
As we drove up, I noticed parking is at the back of the building. Upon entering the restaurant, I did notice how bright, open, & clean it was. Good sign thus far. We were seated immediately, and given menus. I was impressed to see many different sushi items, I had never tried before. But of course, I always
have to order a few of my favorites!
For appetizers, we ordered the Agedashi Tofu and Gyoza. For me, the tofu is always a delight. However, the gyozas were deep fried, versus pan fried. Deep dried is not my method by choice at all. Therefore, they were too oily. Flavour-wise though, wasn’t bad.
We then followed the appetizers, with an order of Assorted Sashimi and Saba. (mackerel, my favorite!) Both items were beyond fresh, and tasted delicious. The pieces of Saba were gigantic, so juicy, the flavour just burst in my mouth!
After that, we ordered three different rolls. Oh yes, how can you tell we were quite hungry! Lol. There was the Caterpillar, Dungeness Crab, and Deep fried Chef’s Special roll. The Caterpillar roll was very good, lots of advocado. Yum! The Dungeness Crab roll was tasty as well. And I know how I just mentioned, deep fried, is not my favorite, however, when it comes to rolls, I do not mind it at all. It adds a different texture to the roll, a crispy effect.
Yes, it was a huge meal! And it all was very fresh. This is what I love about Vancouver, is fresh & inexpensive sushi. Actually, the farther one travels, on the west coast, the more fresh sushi is available. Definitely a Happy Sushi Belly for me! (:
You might be wondering about what the bill came to. I had no idea, as my friend picked the tab up! Lucky me. But all I can remember, from looking at the menu, is that it wasn’t very costly at all.
So, if you are ever in the Vancouver area, Sushiyama is a must-visit. It will be worth your trip, out to Burnaby, whether you are driving, or taking the sky train. The service was fast & friendly. How could you say no to that? And once you have tried such fresh sushi, please let us know what your thoughts are!
371 East Broadway
Vancouver, British Columbia
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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!
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.
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
While at Co-op not too long ago, I picked up a package of gyoza in the deli freezer. Connie has a great source for grocery-store gyoza, but I can’t find it here in Calgary (so far!) and I’ve tried another version that isn’t very good, so I was crossing my fingers this would be a good alternative.
They turned out to be really tasty – although I think that I added a bit too much water – a bit less next time and I bet they’ll be perfect. The filling has a nice flavor – though these ones were pork, and I know that not everyone likes pork. The sauce is good too – a mix of vinegar and soy sauce; though next time I think I’d add more vinegar for my personal taste at least.
I also made up some edamame – this one is Safeway’s Organics brand (I think!) and the little red flakes (that kind of look like bacon bits…) are Alaea Hawaiian red sea salt – super yummy, but not as strong as the regular sea salt that I usually use.
The brand is “Sum-m”, and there are 12 to a package, plus dipping sauce.