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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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Sushi & Co

If you follow my personal account (@SadinaDawn) on Twitter, you might have already had a sneak peek of my visit to Sushi & Co in September.  A friend (who runs the Dyeing for It hair page on Facebook) recommended Sushi & Co – because it was super-close to MC College where she was studying in the Hairstyling Program at the time. Due to the location I tried to get there twice with no success before finally getting there in September.

Cali Sunshine roll from Sushi & Co

Cali Sunshine roll from Sushi & Co

Location

Downtown apartments near Sushi & Co

Downtown apartments near Sushi & Co

Located just on the west edge of downtown Calgary, Sushi & Co is a take-out sushi shop ideal for grabbing a quick lunch (it’s steps away from the West Downtown/Kerby C-train station) and they have three options specifically for lunchtime diners.  Situated close to a number of beautiful downtown apartment towers, it’s also a good consideration for take-away dinner, which is what I had.

When I say take-away… I mean it. While there are three stools (with a small ledge) and a bench, it’s clear that these are only for people to sit and wait for their order to be ready.  While I was in there, there was one other person waiting for her order, and as I was leaving another came in to do the same.

Presentation

When I got home I was seriously impressed.  Many places just don’t know how to pack sushi for take-out. They pack it in the container like they would serve it on the plate, and by the time I get home with my dinner – everything has fallen all over the place and it looks terrible.  Sometimes filling falls out of battleship-style nigiri sushi, sometimes rolls unroll themselves, and sometimes the wasabi gets smeared all over everything…

Sushi & Co knows how to pack up to-go sushi! Not only did it arrive home intact (after a walk and a bus ride during rush hour!) but also still LOOKED beautiful.  The presentation was designed with travel in mind for sure!

My order

I ordered an order of Tuna Sashimi (7 pieces), a Rainbow Roll, and a Cali Sunshine Roll.  They have a fairly large selection of ‘large’ rolls, several of the small rolls, and then a few types of sashimi, nigiri sushi, plus cooked items like tempura.

The tuna was pretty much perfect – loads of flavour, and fantastic texture. The cuts were thick “fingers” rather than slices which was a bit different, but totally fine.

The two rolls were both crab and avocado on the inside, and the Cali Sunshine had a bit of tuna, a tiny sliver of mango, and a generous scoop of massago on each slice of the roll.  The Rainbow Roll was the same crab/avocado on the inside, with toppings of mango, shrimp, tuna, and avocado – plus more massago. The crab/avacado was delicious – cool and fresh-tasting, and the mango (which often can be just slightly off if cut up too early) was perfect.

Item Price
Tuna Sashimi (7 slices) $12.95
Rainbow Roll $13.95
Cali Sunshine Roll $13.95

Of course you’re welcome to follow me personally on Twitter, but if you want to get regular Happy Sushi Belly updates in your stream, consider following @HappySushiBelly too!

Sushi & Co
683 10 St SW, Calgary, AB T2P 5G4
(403) 532-7876

Sushi & Co. on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2013 in Downtown Calgary, South-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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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: Yet another take out dinner from Sushi Hanami

I visit my closest Sushi place so often, that it’s almost not even worth talking about.  For more posts about Sushi Hanami, just click the Sushi Hanami tag

So, instead – photos!

Interior shot thanks to my iPhone

Now and again I like to share photos of the interiors of the places I go.  They haven’t even replaced the tiles since this was a doughnut shop!  Faces blurred for privacy.  It was still pretty early in the evening (I had gotten out of class half an hour early), so I was the only one in there. While this is unusual, it never seems PACKED in there either.

Yummy take out! I think my iPhone photos are getting better!

Nothing to unusual… my regular order of tuna & salmon sashimi, two pieces of chopped scallop, and since they don’t carry Ikura, two pieces of Tobiko instead.

So, the bill for my take out came to $22.52 with tax.

Price chart

Sushi Menu price (before tax)
Salmon & tuna sashimi $11.9x/ 6 pieces
Special scallop $2.50 / each
Tobiko $2.25 / each
 
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Posted by on May 20, 2012 in South-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi: Misato Japanese Restaurant

I found the food at Misato really good, but the prices far too high to bother going back again.  While the food was good, it was no better than some of my favorite places, and the prices were about 1/3 higher than my most expensive favorite.

Our visit

In early March Connie and I went to Misato Japanese Restaurant (read her review here!) after a long stroll around Bowness. (We were planning to go to Miki just across the river from where we were walking, but they weren’t open – and no times listed on the door either 🙂  boo.)

We had looked for Misato once before, but never made it in.  This time we  got there right as they were opening.    We had called ahead and had been advised to make a reservation, but we didn’t – though by the looks of things if we had been any later it would have been a very good idea.  It was a Sunday evening, and by the time we were leaving, the restaurant was almost entirely full.

The atmosphere is fine – nothing special either way, though there were some paper signs throughout the Misato saying that they would be doing upcoming renovations, so perhaps in the near future the atmosphere might be more noteable.  From overhearing the server, it sounds like they will be installing some benches to go along with the current tables and other cosmetic changes more than serious renovations.  One thing we did note was the seemingly excessive number of staff working.  When we visited the restroom, we noticed that there were at least four individuals working in the kitchen.  There were also four individuals behind the sushi counter, and another four servers.  Although the restaurant was full, there seemed to be too many staff for the number of customers – unless perhaps Misato has a significant take-out business along with dine-in customers.

With so many servers, I would have expected service to be a bit better – it was fine, but not great.

Our order

We started with splitting two unique rolls that we hadn’t tried before, the Matango Roll (Japanese mushroom and avocado) and the Rocky Roll (avocado, tuna, and green onion, wrapped with smoked tuna).  From there we each had an order of tuna and salmon sashimi (which seems to be a trend with our sushi visits lately) and then each had our favorites – saba and tamago for her, ikura and chopped scallop for me.

We contemplated splitting an order of gyoza as well – but neither of us was really in the mood for deep-fried after our nice long walk.

I was also interested in trying their California Tomato Roll (Avocado, Sun-dried tomato, Japanese plum sauce) but Connie wasn’t keen on it and I didn’t want to have a whole one by myself.  There were a number of unique and interesting items on their menu, but with their prices I would hesitate to return to try them out…

We also noticed that they charge $2 for extra ginger or extra wasabi.  I can understand that there are some people who eat a LOT of ginger, but they only brought one small dish for the two of us, regardless of how much sushi we had.  It seemed pretty cheap to me, since most places would have at least brought us EACH a dish, or would have put the ginger and wasabi on the plates with the sushi itself.

Matango roll

Matango Roll

The mushroom was fantastic – I think that perhaps it’s marinated?  Yum yum!  The avocado in the Matango Roll wasn’t great though, it was totally overwhelmed by the mushroom and the roll was very rice-heavy. (6 pieces for $6.95)

Rocky roll

Rocky Roll

The avocado in this roll played a much nicer, and was nicely combined with the tuna. Although I hate onions, I couldn’t taste them very much which was nice, and there was a much better rice ratio – more filling, less rice!  The smoked tuna was fantastic as well – much more mellow in flavour than smoked salmon, and really enjoyable. (8 pieces for $8.95)

Tuna and Salmon Sashimi

Sashimi

The tuna and salmon sashimi was good, but nothing extraordinary.  There were 4 pieces of each for $15.95, which seemed pretty pricy.

Ikura

Nigiri Sushi

Well, I can’t comment on Connie’s tamago (other than to say it was very thick, and she said it was nice and fluffy but a bit too sweet) or her saba (which she said was alright, but perhaps cut a bit too thick for her preference), but I can tell you about my ikura and chopped scallop.

The ikura was good, but not spectacular – it wasn’t quite as firm as I like. I suppose that part of what made it not taste great was the price as well.  Each piece was $3.95 – well above what I usually pay for ikura.

The chopped scallop was very good though, though a lot more masago than I would really like.  It looked like a huge portion on the plate, but there was probably a normal amount – the battle-ship style sushi just was full of rice.  Like the other menu items, the chopped scallop was $3.50 – overpriced compared to other places in Calgary.

In both of my nigiri sushi selections I noted a bit of a fishy taste near the end – I wasn’t sure if it was perhaps the  nori or the seasoning in the rice.

Chopped Scallop

Overall impression

The bill- Ouch!

While the food at Misato is really good, it’s not the best I’ve ever had and the prices are probably the most expensive.  I suspect that location and overstaffing might contribute to this, but either way, it’s not some place that I’ll likely find myself again.  I can get equal or better sushi elsewhere, and pay less for it.

So, my review is definitely mixed. While the food is good, the prices aren’t.  If you would like another opinion, check out this review from Chowtown, or Anomay’s post in the Calgary Eats blog.

Price chart

Menu item Price
Salmon & tuna sashimi $15.95/ 8 pieces
Special scallop $3.95
Ikura $3.50
Matango Roll $6.95 / 6 pieces
Rocky Roll $8.95 / 8 pieces

Misato Japanese Restaurant
1851 Sirocco Dr SW
Calgary, AB (403) 217-3000
Misato Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in South-West Calgary, 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

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

 

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Sushi: Kinjo – rush rush rush

I used to get together with friends on a monthly basis and each time we’d choose a new place to go for dinner. Sometimes we’d try something we had never tried before, but most of the time we’d pick one that one of our group would personally recommend.

Kinjo was one of the places that was highly recommended by one of the people in our group – however it was only recently that I finally got there.

I had read somewhere (probably UrbanSpoon) that it was sushi-boat style, and while up until (fairly) recently I had avoided those places, after a great experience in Banff, I decided that they were worth a try again, and with such a positive recommendation, and plans in the area, I figured it was time to check it out.

Seating

We showed up around 5:30 on a Friday, and I expected the restaurant to be busy, but it wasn’t too bad. There was quite a bit of room at the sushi bar, but neither of us are big fans of stools, so we waited about five minutes to get a booth, and luckily one right along the sushi bar at that.  (I kept wanting to take something directly from the bar – and it was also cool to see what things that I didn’t order looked like.)

We were pointed to our seats once they were ready – which was kind of strange, but since the location is small enough it wasn’t a big deal.  Quickly the server came with four pieces of ‘free’ sushi. Unfortunately she didn’t tell us what they were, so although you would think that ‘free’ = good, we hesitated a bit.  The review – putting hot sauce on sushi doesn’t make it good sushi.

Our order

The menu is pretty vast, with many items on the “price per plate” menu (usually with two nigiri-style sushi pieces, or four pieces from a roll) plus a large menu of entree dishes. I’ve seen sushi-boat places where there are only a few things on the menu, which is a concern when you’re looking for more variety.  Here, there is a LOT of variety which is awesome.  One problem I had with the menu was that although there were photos, there were no descriptions.  This meant that when it came to rolls, I wasn’t entirely sure what to order… something that looked like salmon might have been tuna; the colours on the menu photos were very deceiving, so I hesitated to order anything that I didn’t know what it would be.  I have been taking a shine to trying different fusion-rolls, but I still like to know what to expect!

Scallop sushi - Volcano roll in the background

Volcano roll & Scallop sushi

The first (non-free) sushi that we had was the volcano roll.  In the photo I wasn’t sure what to expect, but then realized that the yellow ‘blob’ on top in the photo was actually a blob of spicy sauce.  I have the sneaking suspicion that the server just grabbed this and the scallop sushi off the sushi-boat, because neither tasted particularly fresh or good.  The volcano roll was fast-food quality (and I mean Edo-of-Japan fast food quality, rather than Co-op fast food quality…) and poorly forgettable.  I normally adore raw scallops when having sushi, but these seemed to have been taken off the boat – and didn’t taste as though they’d been freshly prepared.  They were also drenched in thick (soy?) sauce, with mayo, hot chili sauce, and green onions.  Eh.  I understand that having things pre-dressed is a bit more fancy – but what I love about raw scallops is that fresh crispness, and scallops have enough of their own flavour, that all of this dressing was just overkill.  I saw the same dish go ’round on the sushi boat several times, so I guess a lot of other people figured out before hand what I took longer to learn – the scallops just aren’t tasty with the dressing and lack of freshness.

Tempura

We placed an order of avocado tempura (because we haven’t had it before – or remembered having it) and an order of prawn tempura.  The avocado tempura was REALLY hot (not quite inedible it was so hot, but almost) and came with a drizzle of sauce on it, but no tempura dipping sauce.  I didn’t mind the avocado tempura – though it didn’t really have any avocado flavour.  I would have far preferred the yam I’m sure. My companion had one piece and decided that was enough.   The prawn tempura on the other hand was cold – as though it had been sitting on a counter for a long time, though there was a dipping sauce with green onions in it.  The big problem with cold tempura – it starts to feel ‘heavy’ very quickly.  Even though there were only 4 prawns, it was too much because it really felt greasy.

Oysters from Kinjo - special scallops in the background.

Oysters

I was excited to see raw oysters on the menu, and ordered a serving (four oysters).  I was really disapointed when they came.  Although they seemed fresh, the oysters were quite small compared to what I’ve had elsewhere, and they were pre-dressed.  While I really liked the pre-dressing Ponzu sauce on the oysters at Shibuya which was a flavour I hadn’t expected, these oysters from Kinjo were drenched in more green onion, and I didn’t care for the sauce (which I think was just soy sauce?).  Plus, the dressing wasn’t even across each oyster, and some had huge blobs of hot chili sauce on them as well.  I definitly don’t recommend the oysters here based on this experience.

Special scallop and Ikura

So finally my total favorites – special scallop (chopped scallop with mayo and tobiko) and Ikura (salmon roe). After a number of disappointing dishes, I was kind of worried… but didn’t need to be.  The Ikura was firm and fresh, and the proportions were good.  The special scallop was excellent (I ordered another order after the first) although one of them fell apart on me while I was trying to eat it.  Again, the proportions were good (with all of the ingredients) and it tasted freshly made.  I never did see any more of either on the sushi boat though – so I guess that’s the trick at Kinjo – don’t order what is on the boat (because you don’t know how old it is); instead order the things you love that are NOT on the boat.  If eating at the bar itself, consider the sushi boat like a moving picture show, rather than a buffet of choices.

Dessert

Back when Peter Kinjo was running the restaurant at Eau Claire market – he used to give away Pocky for dessert – and this continues at Kinjo.  My companion thought that it was the best part of the meal, and while I disagree, it certainly is a nice treat! (And adds value to the meal overall.)

Service & atmosphere

When eating at the sushi bar, feeling like there is limited time is fine – however I don’t like to feel rushed while sitting down for dinner.  Between the servers running all over the place, spending a minimum of time with each patron, the chefs yelling orders, hellos, and the rest, and plates piling up on our table, it gave the impression of “get in, get out!” and not in an exciting, energetic way.  I felt as though we were rushed the whole time.  Rushed to order, rushed to fill the order, rushed to eat, and rushed to get out so that the table could be cleared for the next patron. I get that it’s high-volume… but that’s just not my style when it comes to dine-in sushi. If you have a movie to get to on the other hand, the fast service might be just what you’re looking for.

With that being said, the servers were very friendly, though with the rush-rush-rush and strong accents, it was hard to understand our server more than once.  (I had to ask three times before figuring out that “chocolate” wasn’t “Grape”.)  I don’t have any problem with this – but it is challenging with all of the noise, and feeling like I was being rushed in and out.

One other note about the sushi bar in the middle…. I LIKE seeing the chefs prepare my sushi.  It assures me that the food is fresh and being made to order. (Even when I haven’t given any specifics about my preferences.)  I like seeing the skill of someone rolling a roll or how many times they wipe their knives… what I don’t like seeing is boxes, microwaves and rolls of saran wrap.  From the booth side at least, that was our view.  Heads, shoulders, yelling, and rolls of saran wrap.  Worse still, the fryer.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to see the fryer. I especially don’t want to see anyone scooping out the unused batter and cramming it down some slot thing while I eat.  I don’t want to smell the fryer either.  This kind of thing should be kept in the back, out of sight in my opinion.  I also think they need a better way of dealing with garbage/waste.  Bringing a garbage bag through the restaurant is kind of gross.

The final tally

My final thoughts on Kinjo – although my friend recommended it strongly, I wouldn’t bother going again, even if I was in a rush.  Although some of the items I had were really good, the overall atmosphere and quality just didn’t appeal to me. I did a little search for other bloggers talking about Kinjo, and Eating is the Hard Part (a blogger from Edmonton) wasn’t terribly impressed with Kinjo either.  Rune over at ChowHound also wasn’t impressed, but offers a really interesting history of Peter Kinjo, which gives major props to the owner for all that he has accomplished in his life.

On the other hand, both Eating in Calgary and Elsie Hui both give brief but generally positive reviews of Kinjo, and the reviews on UrbanSpoon are generally mixed (with good points being the cost and efficiency/speed of service). Maybe what I was really missing here was Peter Kinjo himself.  (Apparently he’s opened a second Kinjo in Dalhousie, and that’s where he is most of the time.)  Between his crazy, fun-loving attitude, his wanton (and totally harmless) flirting/teasing, and his Pocky-games, Kinjo needs a little more Kinjo perhaps!

If you’ve been to Kinjo – what do you think?  Do you like this fast-food style sushi, or would you rather enjoy a more relaxed dining experience?

Price chart

Sushi Menu price
Scallop  $3.25/ 2 pieces
Special scallop  $3.75 / 2 pieces
Oyster  $7.80 / 4 oysters
Ikura  $3.75 / 2 pieces
Volcano roll  $3.75 / 4 pieces
Avocado tempura  $3.80 / 5 pieces
Prawn tempura  $4.80 / 4 pieces

Kinjo Sushi & Grill
(403) 255-8998
Macleod Trail
7101 Macleod Trail S
Calgary, AB
Kinjo Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in South-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi: Shibuya Izakaya

I mentioned in a previous post that Connie and I visited Shibuya Izakaya not too long ago. In my earlier post I talked about the Baby Octopus but that wasn’t all that we had!

To start off our meal we shared some raw oysters. They were absolutely outstanding. There’s a ‘rule’ (or perhaps an old wives tale?) that raw oysters are best in months that end in “R” so we’ve been waiting a few months to enjoy them again – and these were well-worth the wait! They serve them with Ponzu sauce, which I’ve never had for oysters before, but it was outstanding – they offered a lemon wedge as well, but with the Ponzu sauce, we didn’t feel the need for any further dressing to the oysters. They also have a bunch of green onions on them, which I mostly took off – I don’t like onions.  Shockingly, I didn’t even get a photo of the oysters!  We considered trying the gyoza, but there were other things we wanted to try more.  Next time!

Sashimi salad roll

Next up, we had the baby octopus, and then a salad roll. The salad rolls were on the same page as the special sushi rolls, and I didn’t really know what to expect. We had a Sashimi Salad Roll, which was served cut into four pieces, and generously drizzled with dressing. There were a lot of vegetables in the salad roll, and it was wrapped in the regular rice paper wrapper that salad rolls I’ve had before are rolled in.  I wasn’t overly impressed with the roll itself – though I think it would make a really nice option for someone who isn’t really interested in sushi or sashimi – or anyone who wishes they could get more vegetables when out for sushi!  It definitely made me think about trying to use those wrappers again (my first attempt didn’t really work out!).

Salmon and tuna sashimi

Next up, we had salmon and tuna sashimi.  I find myself going back and forth – sometimes I prefer salmon, sometimes I prefer tuna.  This time around I found that the tuna didn’t have as much flavor, so I preferred the salmon.  Lately I’ve had a lot of sashimi that hasn’t been cut well; its been sinew-y and tough to eat compared to the sashimi I’m expecting.  This sashimi was much better cut than the not-so-great ones I’ve been having lately.

Finally, we finished with some of our favorite sushi pieces.  Connie had scallop sashimi and saba, while I had my special scallop battleship-style nigiri and ikura.  Along with the oysters, these were really the highlights of the meal.

Favorites

The ikura was firm and burst with salty goodness.  The ratio of rice to eggs was good too, and it was put together well (ei: it didn’t fall apart when introduced to soy sauce).  The special scallop was a bit more creamy than I had been hoping for – but it tasted fantastic and was made just as well as the ikura.

As for the restaurant itself, it’s very small and tucked into an unimpressive strip mall.  The decor is clean and modern, but there aren’t very many tables.  When we arrived they were almost full, and when we left they were packed, with everything from couples and friends out for dinner to families. The servers seemed to be lacking a bit of communication (two servers both seemed to think we were in their section) but they made up for it with being friendly and accommodating.  The hostess (? busser?) also was very friendly and came by frequently to refill our waters.

For the amount of food that we had, I thought the prices were ok.  Our total bill came to $66 including tax before tip.  Sushi is never a ‘cheap’ meal….

Ok… so, what about other opinions about Shibuya? While looking for other blogs, I found Calgary Sushi (how have I never seen this before?!) who gave Shibuya a 8/10 in a 2008 article.  A lot can change in a few years though.  Food = Life gave it a good reviewas well, though I agree about the location – it’s not the easiest place for me to get to either.  Although I liked the ponzu sauce on the oysters, the author didn’t, but liked the onions.  Different tastes!  The last link I’ll leave you with is from Scrumptiously Fit Food, who offers up a review along with really fantastic and mouth-watering photographs.

Have you been to Shibuya?  What is your favorite item on the menu – the one item you’d recommend for the next time we go back again?  Let us know in the comments below!

Shibuya Izakaya
Central 16 Ave N
453 16 Ave NE
Calgary, AB T2E
(403) 277-8823

Shibuya Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Price chart

Sushi Menu price
Special scallop  $3.25 (I think the most expensive I’ve spent!)
Ikura  $2.25
 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in North-East Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi Ichiban (SW)

Not too long ago I was heading out for dinner.  Since we were in the Westhills area, I though I’d try out Sushi Bar Ren which is located right beside the walk in clinic and Canadian Tire.  Unfortunately, it was a Monday and they were closed.  Boo.

menu

So, since my favorite MomoYama is also closed on Mondays, and it was evening (so I wasn’t interested in going to Sushi Hanami), we headed instead to the Westbrook Mall area and Sushi Ichiban.

This is the same restaurant as on MacLeod Trail – which is well-known for it’s all-you-can-eat menu. Despite the website featuring the AYCE menu – don’t be fooled.. this location doesn’t offer it.  Boo.

This is located near the mall, on the opposite side from  Spa Lady, facing 37th Street.  You can see it from Bow Trail as well, but need to enter through 37th.

menu

One problem I’ve had with it every time I’ve been here, is the temperature.  It’s VERY cold inside – bring a sweater or a jacket, even in the summertime. I’ve also found the service to be less-than-impressive.  The staff I’ve been served by have not been very attentive in the past, and this visit was similar, until it came time to pay.  The furnishings are 50/50 – some of the decor is really nice – with interesting partitioned walls making it easy to accommodate big groups or smaller groups.  However some of the furnishings are also really worn – the seats across from where we were had split vinyl in the seats – never fun to sit on.

There isn’t a lot of parking on the restaurant side, and on the other side where Spa Lady is you’d be lucky to get a spot when the gym is open, but I’ve never had a problem finding parking when I’ve gone here.

So, onto the food!

Gyoza

My companion and I split the Gyoza order – and other than the cute way they had cut the orange, neither of us were particularly impressed.  I found the exterior to be thicker and more batter-like than I normally like, and I found it over cooked.  The filling also had too much onion in it for my taste. I really like Gyoza when it’s done the way I like it, but I’m starting to get tired of ordering Gyoza and being disappointed…

Salmon & Tuna Don

Next I had the Salmon & Tuna Don bowl.  This is just a bowl of rice with salmon and tuna sashimi on it.  The rice was good, and the flavours of the fish was good, but the cuts weren’t sashimi-grade in my opinion.  They selected the part that would normally be in a roll I think; the fish was chewy/ribbony.  I don’t know the specifics – I just know when it’s good, and when it isn’t.  When it’s good it practically melts in your mouth, and you could cut it with ease with a chopstick.  When it’s not cut well … well, you can’t do those things!  However – this was presented in a lovely fashion – with the fish forming a rose on top of the rice, and there was a fair amount of everything which was great. (I was really hungry!)

menu

My companion had the Teriyake Beef, and said that it was “good” and that the rice was really good…. But that Edo of Japan did it better.  There weren’t very many vegetables which she would have liked as well.  I don’t think that coming in second after a fast-food joint is really a ringing endorsement – though she admitted that since Edo of Japan is what she is used to… it could just be a matter of preference.

Ikura - doesn't this look tasty?

I also had my favorite special scallop and Ikura (Salmon roe) sushi pieces.  The scallop was underwhelming.  There wasn’t anything bad about it, but it wasn’t great.  It was a very small piece too.  The Ikura on the other hand was very good, but also very small.

Ikura and special scallop

I could imagine this location would be nice to come to with a group – because of the expandable seating area – but I think I’d rather go with friends to the MacLeod Trail location where with the AYCE option the bill might be a bit lower.  Their website does have a menu (which is great for comparing prices or seeing if they’ll have what you want) and the Calgary Foodies blog gave Sushi Ichiban a good review.

menu

Sushi Ichiban
1002 37 Street Southwest,
Calgary
(403) 217-9999

Sushi Ichiban on Urbanspoon

Price chart

Sushi Menu price
Special scallop  $2.10
Ikura  $2.50

menu

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in Gyoza (Dumplings), South-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi Ginza

From the outside

While in the deep recesses of South Calgary, dinner time beckoned and we found ourselves at Sushi Ginza in Willow Park.  Before getting out of the car, we checked the menu online (to ensure that they offered enough non-sushi options for my non-sushi-loving companion) and I checked UrbanSpoon on my iPhone as well to see what kind of reviews other posters and bloggers were offering.  Overall, my expectations were pretty high (with my only hesitancy coming from an anticipated high bill too…).  What would we do without technology huh?  Need to go into a resturaunt to see their menu, need to call friends to get opinions… LOL

I was really impressed by the decor in Sushi Ginza – it looks as though it’s the kind of place that has been here for a while, and that the owners really care in creating an entire experience for their patrons, rather than just selling them food.  Right away we were asked by the hostess if we wanted to sit at the (conveyor belt style) sushi bar or at a table – after a fantastic conveyor belt sushi bar experience in Banff, I would have been up for it again – but with a non-sushi-eating companion, we chose a table instead.

Gyoza

We started with an order of Gyoza.  While my companion really liked them (eating some of my ‘half’ as well as her own!) I wasn’t terribly impressed.  I thought that perhaps the dough was too thin, because they broke apart too easily, and seemed somewhat “mushy” to me.  However, the flavor of the filling was excellent.  They served it on a plate where the dipping sauce was very shallow, and it spilled over the dumplings as well.  I usually really like the dipping sauce, so I didn’t care for this either.  Giving up some of my share wasn’t a huge loss, especially since my companion was really happy with them.

Tempura

My companion ordered a tempura plate, which came with a LOT of tempura – including really nice large pieces of yam and broccoli.  I personally really prefer large pieces, because I can get tired of the tempura batter after a (short) while.  This happened to my companion as well, and even though it was really good, she said it was also too much.  Next time: mental note to order a smaller order of tempura, and then a salad or something as well, to avoid getting tired of the tempura batter flavour.

Three of my favorites

I ordered my usual favorites – Ikura (salmon roe), and special scallop (chopped scallop with mayo and tobiko (flying fish roe)). I also ordered two pieces of masago (smelt roe) from their a la carte menu, and then from their regular menu, a Mt. Fuji roll which was a tuna and avocado roll topped with yam tempura and spicy sauce.

Mt. Fuji roll

My sushi was really good.  The Mt. Fuji roll was a perfect balance of flavors, and a good size – not those huge rolls that you have to take apart to eat.  The spicy sauce was just that – spicy, but not too much, and the yam tempura on top was an unexpected and delightful flavor.  (Mind you, the only tempura that I reallllly like is the yam one anyways, so I’m probably biased towards yams!)  The presentation was pretty, with lots of extra drizzled sauce for dipping.  My only problem is that the soy sauce dish is attached to the plate, and is very shallow, so I ended up getting spicy sauce in my soya – which wouldn’t have been so nice for the other selections.

The Ikura (salmon roe) was firm, although just a tiny bit stickier than I normally like it.  I also found that their rice was a bit sweeter than I normally like it – though eating it in rolls was fine.  If I had been having a bowl of it – it would have been too much.  The masago was good, and the special scallop was delightful.

Looking towards the sushi bar

Menu shot #1 – Click to enlarge

The service was prompt, attentive, and that wonderful mix of friendly AND professional.  I was surprised though that during the time we were there, not a single person sat down at the conveyor belt sushi bar – though that is where the chefs were preparing my sushi, so they were busy.  Not sure why this might be – however the restaurant was not packed at all while we were there.  (Dinner hour on a weeknight.)  The rest of Sushi Ginza was reasonably busy – not so much that we were rubbing elbows with neighbors, but still active.  There was one table with a little child who shrieked like a banshee at one point – but only once.  Good parents!  I appreciated that they had an online menu, and although we didn’t have alcohol, I liked the fact they had a decent drink menu.

Menu shot #2 – Click to enlarge

The price – well, Sushi Ginza was expensive.  Not the most expensive place I’ve ever gone for sushi, but still pretty high.  I think that between the two of us, the bill came to $68.00 before tip.  Although the atmosphere was good, the staff were great, and the food was good, the cost and the location (far from where I live and normally travel) will likely keep me from returning too frequently.

Have you been to Sushi Ginza?  What do you think of the koi pond in the middle of the restaurant?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Sushi Ginza
10816 Macleod Trail South
Calgary, AB
(403) 271-9642

Sushi Ginza on Urbanspoon

Price chart

Sushi Menu price
Special scallop $2.75
Ikura $3.50
Masago $2.25
Gyoza (8) $7.95
 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Gyoza (Dumplings), South-East Calgary, Sushi

 

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