Fusion · Italian · Japanese · Restaurants

Carino – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Cheese Pull called and wanted to meet for dinner. She asked me to bring L but he declined as he dislikes being the only dude out with a group of chicks. For this post, let’s listen to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt.

Cheese Pull and I wanted to check out Carino, specifically for the gyozagna – a fusion blend of gyoza and lasagna. Carino has moved a couple of doors down the street into spacier, fancier digs. The room is filled with natural light and has a fresh, airy feel to it.

I asked our server for a glass of wine that would pair with the lasagna. He recommended the Barbera ($11). Cheese Pull doesn’t drink. I noticed that kids nowadays don’t consume alcohol, perhaps because they have better coping skills than my generation did.

For my appetizer, I choose Chicken Karaage ($8). Each piece of chicken was bite-sized and juicy, with a light, soft batter. The taste of basil in the mayonnaise was prominent. Cheese Pull commented the batter wasn’t as crunchy as Sukiyaki House‘s karaage.

The Gyozagna ($24) was so good that Cheese Pull let out a low growling sound as she ate. If that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is. Each dumpling was so plump, stuffed with a pork filling that burst with its hot juices. The wagyu meat sauce was so rich and heavy it just melded into the lava of melted mozzarella.

I enjoyed everything about this dish. From the delicate dumpling wrapper to the fresh flavour of the tomato sauce to the crunchy bits of caramelized cheese that crusted onto the top corners of the dish. The portion was also very filling.

Cheese Pull packed half her pasta away while I ate my entire serving. I was planning on bringing L half my pasta but it was so decadent I couldn’t stop eating. Cheese Pull said it was his fault for not coming. Our server was surprised I crushed my plate.

 

I was too full for dessert but Cheese Pull ordered the Hassun ($12) – a trio of sweets. Cheese Pull said the lemon flavouring in the shooter glass was subtle with a consistency like apple sauce. Her favourite of the trio was the creme brûlée. I could hear her tap on the sugar until it broke. She described her creme brûlée as a fancy pudding. The tiramisu was deconstructed – with the bottom layer tasting strongly of espresso.

I plan to return and get L to order the gyozagna so I can order the Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Seared Foie Gras Ravioli ($49.99). If you haven’t been, you have to check Carino out. The food is unique and delicious. Hitting the Sauce gives this Japanese Italian fusion gem two fat thumbs up.

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Sukiyaki House – COVID-19 dine-in edition #2

On Saturday, L and I met up with Grohl and Flower Child for dinner. Grohl wanted Chinese food but Flower Child insisted we have sushi. I was relieved. Grohl lived in China for a period and ever since, he’s been trying to relive his culinary experiences. He doesn’t listen to my recommendations and orders what he remembers from his travels, then complains the food is terrible and not at all like it was in China. I told L we had to pick a restaurant that Grohl couldn’t find fault with. My reputation was at stake. We decided on Sukiyaki House because we knew head chef Koji Kobayshi and sous chef Yuki Koyama’s culinary creativity would impress our friends.  For this post, let’s listen to “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis.

This post won’t list the prices as Grohl and Flower Child treated us out. As well, I won’t describe the assorted tempura, agadashi tofu and nigiri we ate as I’ve written about it extensively in past posts.

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When I saw FoodKarma Instagram posts on Koji’s summer creation – the Irodori Hiyashi Udon – I knew I had to try it. This bowl of sea treasures cost around $17, which is fantastic value. Our bowl was filled with generously sized pieces of hamachi, snow crab, scallop, ebi, ikura, shitake, tamago, and shredded seaweed.

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The chilled udon noodles were thin and chewy. The cold dashi soy broth was refreshing and light enough that it didn’t mask or take away from the natural sweetness of the seafood. I made use of the side of yuzukosho, which added a spicy kick. This cold seafood udon special is available only for a few more weeks, so come quick before it is too late.

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Koji created a stunning plate of tuna and hamachi tataki. I thought the sweet onion ponzu sauce went well with the denser, stronger flavour of hamachi as well as the lighter, softer pieces of tuna. The garnishes of daikon, micro greens and edible flowers tasted as pretty as it looked.

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Grohl requested a spicy roll. I asked our server Justin if there was a roll so hot it would burn Grohl’s ass. Justin laughed at my grossness and said Yuki could create something off the menu – the Spicy Aka Oshizushi. The roll was hot but in a restrained way that really worked with the flavor of the red tuna. The topping of micro greens, green onions and crispy shallots added a freshness and crunch factor with each bite.

L said he could taste gochujang spice in the sauce. Justin informed us that there were two other Japanese spices added for extra heat. Grohl raved about how good this roll was and just like that, my reputation was restored. Thanks Yuki.

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Grohl ordered a piece of the house made smoked wild eel. Apparently, wild eel has a smokier flavour profile and more texture than regular eel. Justin mentioned the chefs reduce the unagi sauce from the soy cure the eel is boiled in.

Grohl and I ate a piece of Hokkaido sea urchin (uni). He closed his eyes as he ate and exclaimed that the uni tasted like a blast of the ocean. I enjoyed the clean sea flavour and the cool, creamy texture. Justin mentioned Hokkaido uni is much sweeter compared to other sea urchin in Japan and the rest of the world.

We all tried a piece of chu toro. Justin informed us that Koji and Yuki use the fattier cuts of bluefin tuna. This one was a winner! I thought the white and pink hue was particularly pretty and the tuna richly flavoured with a soft, almost buttery texture.

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For dessert, we shared the flourless chocolate soufflé with house made green tea ice cream. The souffle was warm and coated my tongue with the taste of dark, rich chocolate. I really liked that the flavour of the matsu kaze tea matcha was so intense.

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Thank you Grohl and Flower Child for an epic meal. Hopefully you will have time for us to take you out before you leave. I know a great Korean restaurant for ass burning ‘fire chicken’.

Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood

Takumi Sushi – COVID-19 edition

My friend Aga just told me that she’s moving to Lethbridge. Dammit! That’s bad news for me as she’s been my number one pandemic buddy. I keep losing my friends to different cities. For this post, let’s listen to “Real Friends” by Camila Cabello.

Last Thursday, Aga treated me to a sushi feast from Takumi Sushi. We ordered: Miso Soup ($2.25); Tako Nigiri (raw octopus, $2.50); Aburi Salmon Sushi (grilled salmon, $2.95); Aburi Hotate Sushi (grilled scallop, $3.25); Tuna Maki ($4.95); Salmon Maki ($4.95); Dynamite Roll ($6.25); Mango California Roll ($9.95); and a Pink Lady Special Roll ($12.95). As you can tell, I didn’t fuss over plating the food because I wanted to eat right away.

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My friend Feedmeyyc recommended the aburi sushi. The smoky flavour in the aburi salmon and hotate came on strong. The scallops were a good size and silky smooth. The rice was cooked well but a touch sweet for me.

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The spicy heat in the jalapeno on top of the salmon wasn’t overpowering. I thought the rice ratio to salmon was proportional. I could eat each piece of aburi in two clean bites.

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Feedmeyyc also recommended the spicy salmon roll. This roll was a winner – the salmon and tempura mixture was sweet, spicy, soft and crunchy. I’d order this roll again.

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The Pink Lady Special Roll ($12.95) has a lot going on. Instead of nori, the roll is wrapped in soy paper, deep fried and drizzled with spicy mayo sauce. The filling consists of red tuna, asparagus, cream cheese, jalapeno, and cucumber. The dominant flavour was the cream cheese, which was heavy and thick.

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All the ingredients in the dynamite roll tasted fresh. The tempura shrimp was plump and still crunchy, accented by a deliciously unhealthy smear of Japanese mayonnaise, avocado and cucumber.

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I found the sauce on the Mango California Roll sweet. The mango was ripe and smooth. I could see this roll being popular with kids or people into non traditional sushi flavours.

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I read online that Takumi is operated by the same owners of Nami Sushi. I haven’t verified this rumour because it’s more fun to speculate than to confirm it as a fact. I noticed a similarity in the names and ingredients of specialty rolls, pricing and end product. Both restaurants serve up affordable maki rolls that are light on sushi rice and heavy on the fillings. Takumi offers a 15% discount if you pick up your order and pay by debit. Nami Sushi gives customers a 10% discount for pick up orders.

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Thanks Aga for treating us. I’m already planning our next feast. Perhaps I’ll order from Nami so we can do comparative analysis to Takumi Sushi.

Takumi Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants

Koji Katsu – COVID-19 edition

L asked me which restaurant I decided on for our Saturday night dinner. I picked Koji Katsu because this business unfortunately opened up when COVID-19 officially shut down our social lives. For this post, I’d like to dedicate a song to L as he’s been my rock throughout this worldwide crisis. If there was an award for best pandemic husband of the year, he would win it.

In Tokyo, one of the most memorable meals I ate was at Hasegawa, a Michelin recommended restaurant. The tonkatsu batter was light and buttery, the pork so decadent it melted on my tongue. I bought the leanest and cheapest set. For this orgasmic experience, my meal was only 1,000 Yen, which is roughly $13 CAD.

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At Hasegawa and other tonkatsu restaurants I visited, I noticed that there are several different grades of pork. There was an emphasis placed on the fattiness and breed of the pork. L was as blown away as I was from tonkatsu at Hasegawa, but he found the richness from the pork fat difficult to digest. He also find oily meats disgusting. Lucky for him, Koji Katsu uses leaner cuts of pork.

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L and I picked up our order. When we drove home, I could feel the heat permeate from the bags. Even though our ride back was only ten minutes, I cursed every single red light that prevented us from eating our food at the optimal temperature. When we finally made it home, I ripped open the containers as fast as I could to preserve the integrity of the batter.

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I ordered the Hire Katsu ($15, 220 grams), the Koji Special Mixed Katsu ($16.50) and a side of curry sauce ($3). Our dishes came with sides of kimchi, pickles, cabbage salad and miso soup.  We received a lot of food. If you have a big appetite, you are going to love the generous portions.

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The first dish we tackled was the cheese katsu. I was surprised there was so much mozzarella in each piece. I think this dish would be best ordered at the restaurant because cheese cools down so quickly. The texture of the mozzarella reminded me of squeaky cheese curds. The cheese had began to solidify but the batter still offered a satisfying crunch.

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The jumbo prawn was the star of the show. Man oh man. I’m going to quote Lovegastrogirl, who nailed a description of the mouthfeel of a good piece of shrimp. The prawn itself was long and large, with ‘that nice, plump bursty feel.’ If you are a prawn lover, you must try the Ebi Katsu ($15, five pieces).

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The pork used in the Hire Katsu was good quality meat. The tenderloin was lean but still juicy. If you eat a lot of Alberta pork, you’ll know what I mean. The meat was almost fluffy in texture with a clean taste. L prefers Alberta tenderloin to the fatty cuts I enjoyed in Japan.

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My only minor quibble is that I found that some of my rice was overcooked. L said his rice was fine. I enjoyed the deep spices in the curry and it helped to hide the clumps of rice. I would order the curry again.

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The sides and condiments deserve a shout out. I loved the smear of hot mustard and lemon, both of which helped cut into heaviness of the meats. I enjoyed the salty sweetness of the miso soup and the little pieces of puffed tofu, seaweed and enoki mushroom. L liked the sesame dressing for our cabbage, which I found nutty and heady.

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L and I are looking forward to our next visit. When the COVID-19 restrictions lift, I can see this little restaurant being popular with the downtown foodie crowd. Hitting the Sauce gives Koji Katsu two fat thumbs up.

Koji Katsu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Sushi

Sukiyaki House – Ichiban (#1 in #YYC)

Now that L and I no longer have our annual trip to Japan, we crave sushi all the time. I noticed on Instagram, Sukiyaki House receives constant praise from foodkarmablog, Miss Foodie and Loaf2go. Sukiyaki House is located in the heart of downtown core. Pro tip – after 6:00 p.m., there is complimentary heated parking.

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Sukiyaki House is known in Calgary for Head Chef Koji Kobayashi’s elaborate omakase dinners. Chef Kobayashi was born in Osaka and trained in “kaiseki”, the highest form of Japanese fine dining. Below is a picture I took without permission from their Instagram account.

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Foodkarma recommends the agadashi tofu, tempura and special event dinners. Miss Foodie orders the sukiyaki hot pot and other specialty dishes. I like to focus on the nigiri. For this post, let’s listen to “Lights Out” by Santogold.

L knows the owner’s son – Justin – a graduate from the Haskayne School of Business. I think it is endearing that when we visit, there are other U of C graduates dining there. I’m thinking of organizing a get together with our previous Japan kids at Sukiyaki House, who are also Haskayne alumni.

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Justin impressed me with his knowledge of sake. He treated us to a glass of premium sake – Kozaemom Junmai Ginjo Omachi ($90 bottle, 3 oz glass $12). Wowzers. The sake was flavourful and it smelled incredibly nice. I loved the dryness and the viscosity of the sake. This is hands down my favourite sake. I would order this again.

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We started our meal with a dish off the regular menu – Sawara Tataki ($24). Holy Mackerel! This dish made me appreciate the subtlety of fine dining. The delicate textures of the daikon and chrysanthemum was a nice contrast to the mackerel. The greens and garlic chips added a dainty crunch to each bite.  The sauce was refreshing and perfectly balanced.

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We ordered an assortment of nigiri and maki rolls, as well as a pint of Asahi ($7, 16 ounce). Justin informed us that he imports the beer from Japan. I could tell the difference between Asahi made in Japan and the stuff made elsewhere. In 2019, L and I visited the Asahi factory to learn about their brewing process.  Asahi made in Japan tastes purer and the bubbles are tinier.

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The Aka Maguro (red tuna, $4.20) is a must order. The tuna was firm in texture but rich and fatty. The tuna literally melted in my mouth when I slowly chewed it. L noted that the fish to rice ratio was balanced.

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Amaebi (raw prawn, $4) is one of my favourite things to order. The prawn was cool on my tongue, sweet and crunchy.  Equally delicious was the accompanying fried shrimp head, dusted with matcha salt.

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The shrimp head was served still warm. The fried shell was covered in a soft, light layer of tempura. The texture and taste of the shrimp head meat reminds me of fried soft shell crab.

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I think Sukiyaki’s Ebi (steamed prawn, $3) is the best in town. The prawn was tasty with a pleasant crunch to it. We both thought the Shake (Atlantic salmon, $3) was creamy with a rich, smooth flavour. The Tamago (egg omelette, $2.40) was sweet with a light, almost foamy texture.

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The Hotategai ($4.20) was large and plump. The freshness of the scallops was exceptionally lovely – silky smooth with a clean flavour profile. L noted the use of wasabi in the sushi was just as it should be – present but not overpowering.

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We also ordered one of the specials of the night –  Sawara ($6). When I put this piece of Spanish mackerel in my mouth, my head exploded with the realization that I don’t have to go to Japan in order to eat excellent sushi.

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L enjoyed the Special Scallop ($3.80) even though he doesn’t care for scallops or mayonnaise. Despite the thick and almost buttery dressing, I could still taste the freshness of the scallop. The pop of saltiness from the flying fish roe added to this insanely decadent bite.

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L ordered a Prawn Dynamite ($11). What a rookie move! I didn’t want L to order a dynamite roll but sometimes you gotta let your man order his food.  Don’t get me wrong – the dynamite roll was made well, but there’s so many better things you can get. For example, my Shake Skin Roll ($12). Now this is a roll worth ordering.

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The semi raw salmon was scorched on the top. The salmon skin was crunchy and smoky. I enjoyed the sauce which added a touch of sweetness. L doesn’t like salmon skin but he admitted that he now understands the appeal of BC rolls.

After our meal, L spoke to Justin to book my milestone birthday at Sukiyaki House. I normally shy away from extravagant meals but at Sukiyaki House, I see the value in such an experience.

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The sushi was so excellent, I couldn’t stop raving about our meal. I haven’t been this excited in a long time. When we went to bed, I told L that if I died that night, I would die happy. I was serious. If you love sushi, you must check out this restaurant out. Hitting the Sauce thinks Sukiyaki House is the best sushi restaurant in Calgary.

Sukiyaki House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi · Vancouver/Richmond

Richmond – Sushi Hachi – L’s birthday dinner

I booked L’s birthday dinner at Sushi Hachi Japanese Restaurant. Run by a husband and wife team, Sushi Hachi is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Reservations are required, as the small restaurant is perpetually booked.

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I invited N and Beep Beep to L’s dinner. N asked if she could bring her new gentleman friend A-OK. When I spoke to the owner to request an extra seat, I confided to the owner that I was excited to dine at his restaurant. He sounded pleased, but cautiously mentioned that he only serves sushi and sashimi. There is no teriyaki or tempura on the menu. I told him that was fine with me, as I’ve been to Japan before and I’m aware of the difference between real sushi and the North American version. He sounded worried and humbly stated that he didn’t want to get my my hopes up, as his sushi is not as good as what you can get in Japan. For this post, let’s listen to “Saw You in a Dream” by The Japanese House.

When we were seated, L commented that he knew Sushi Hachi was a good restaurant based on the tantalizing smells wafting from the kitchen and sushi bar. Unfortunately, the description of the food we ate won’t be as detailed as I would have preferred. Beep Beep and I were too busy sizing up A-OK. I usually hate the guys N dates, but A-OK was a refreshing break from the norm.

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A-OK and I shared a bottle of cold sake – Hakutsuru Nigori ($17). The flavour was floral, lush and milky in texture. L, Beep Beep and N refrained from drinking alcohol. Beep Beep was driving. L wanted a good sleep. N just came back from her second ayahuasca trip in Peru. Her shaman said she could eat seafood again, but not alcohol, meat or soy sauce. I asked A-OK if the next time, he could slip the shaman an extra twenty bucks so N could eat meat again.

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The Miso Soup ($2) was subtly different from the norm. I read in other reviews that the female owner makes her fish miso in small batches. Each bowl contained a collarbone.

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I ordered four Chef’s Special ($120) – a selection of ten pieces of nigiri and tuna maki. We were given a description of each fish, but I didn’t have time to write any of the names of the fish down.

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The balance of vinegar and sugar in the rice was perfect. The temperature of the rice was neither cool or warm. I noticed the rice was a bit softer than I’m used to. L and I liked the proportion of fish to rice.

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My favourite piece was the bright white glossy piece – it was both crunchy and creamy. The simplicity of garnishes on the nigiri still let the freshness of the seafood shine through.

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The scallops were tender and sweet. My favourite version was the chopped scallop. There’s just something so winning about the combination of delicate scallops and the rich egg flavor of velvety Kewpie mayonnaise.

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I enjoyed crunching into the raw prawn ($3.50). Cold, sweet and with a texture that was both gooey and crunchy. The uni ($4.00) was the most buttery and briniest I’ve ever had. I’d order this again.  L ordered an extra piece of his favourite sushi –  tako ($2.50).

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L noted he’s never tried so many pieces of white fish, each with its own unique flavour. All the seafood tasted pure and clean. 

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A-OK and N ordered a plate of Toro ($18) and Sockeye Salmon ($14). No comment as we didn’t try any of it.

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A-OK also ordered the Grilled Squid ($10.50).  The squid was tender and the juices were reminiscent of charcoal. This dish was simple and delicious.

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N ordered a Tempura Roll ($6) because she was still hungry. She took one piece and announced she was full.  I ate a couple of pieces.  The roll was crunchy and warm from the tempura, made even tastier with a generous slathering of mayonnaise.

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N mentioned that while she can eat fish, she only wants to eat white fish. She felt that the fish with a pink tinge was closer to meat. I disagreed but didn’t feel the urge to argue with her. I’m not a hot shot shaman.

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My favourite part of the night was when L thanked the sushi chef. In Japan, locals go crazy over my husband’s enunciation while I am generally frowned upon for breaking protocol. After L broke out his perfect Japanese, the  chef’s expression didn’t change and he simply nodded to L.  When I went to thank the sushi chef in English, he beamed and bestowed me with a big grin. Take that L.

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Sushi Hachi is a gem. Now that L and I are no longer going on our annual trip to Japan, we can look forward to dining at Sushi Hachi. I’m eager to try more of the adventurous seafood on their sushi menu. Hitting the Sauce gives Sushi Hachi two fat thumbs up.

Sushi Hachi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Hour · Japanese · Restaurants

Ikemen Ramen Bar

L and I finished our grocery shopping when he announced he wanted to go out for lunch. In November, I won a $25 gift certificate to Ikemen Ramen Bar , so I figured we might as well use it. For this post, let’s listen to something groovy and relaxing, similar to Ikemen’s playlist.

The restaurant is bigger than it appears by its storefront. The room is spacious and stylish. I like the large chalkboard wall of specials, the cool stools and the colour scheme.

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Unlike some ramen places, at Ikemen you can make reservations via Opentable and book a table for larger groups. Convenient and a plus for those who detest waiting in line.

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I like the addition of kale. Non-traditional but I thought the hearty greens worked well with the salty broth and generous amount of meat. The noodles were chewy and plentiful. The portion was so big I didn’t finish all my ramen.  L was shocked. A first for me.

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The char siu (pork) was the highlight. The pork was cooked well –  succulent and the leaner cuts fell apart easily when you bit into it. There was one piece of meat that was quite fatty and tougher to chew. We like the proportion of meat to noodle, a ratio of about 1 to 4.

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L thought all the ingredients in his miso ramen worked well together.  The free range egg was interesting in that the egg white was wobbly and seemed less cooked than the yolk, which was in a semi liquid state. The broth wasn’t as hot as we would like. I think if the broth was served at a higher temperature, the egg would have been easier to pick up  with my chopsticks.

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When our bill arrived, I told our server that I had won a gift certificate. When I went to the counter to pick up my card, I spoke to the person in charge. I remembered that Asian Persuasion informed me that Ikemen hired the ramen chef from Ichi Rock. I inquired and was told that information was false. Glad I didn’t leak that gossip on Reddit. I learned my lesson the first time with Office Dad.

Ikemen is an ideal restaurant to meet up with old friends over a leisurely meal in the heart of Kensington. Service was excellent during our visit. Our server (guy with blondish hair) was attentive and thoughtful. We didn’t feel rushed out and we enjoyed the relaxing ambience and filling meal of ramen.

Ikemen Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinatown · Japanese · Restaurants · Sushi

Point Sushi

Veronica invited me to One Chubby Hamster’s 14th birthday party. She told me she was thinking of having the get together at Briggs Kitchen + Bar. She asked me which restaurant would be appropriate for eight teenagers.

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I suggested Point Sushi, Calgary’s first sushi bullet train. I could picture One Chubby Hamster and her friends taking Instagram videos of the train and food. For this post, let’s listen to Runaway Train by Soul Asylum.

We took over two booths next to the bullet train conveyor belt. I noticed a long table next to us with its own conveyor belt running along the table. The music was an interesting mix. When we arrived, there was pleasant jazz music. Half an hour later, it was pop and at the end of our meal, house music.  After we finished our dinner, Jughead had to take a business call. I could just imagine his employee hearing the music in the background and thinking her boss was at a club.

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Veronica ordered a whole wack of food. The system allows you to order a maximum of four orders at one time. We started off with Chicken Wings ($5), Gyoza ($5), Shrimp Tempura ($4.40), and Shio Ramen ($5.95).

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Jughead and I thought the ramen was tasty. The broth was thick and flavourful. The noodles were firm, which I prefer. The portion was more than decent for the price. I’d order this again.

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The chicken and vegetable gyoza was soft and floppy. The dumplings tasted better than my description. The dipping sauce had a nice punch to it.

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The shrimp tempura was heavily battered, doughy and dense. The ratio of batter to shrimp was 4:1.  I couldn’t taste the shrimp. This is the only thing I wouldn’t order again.

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Veronica wanted to order sushi. L asked for his favourite nigiri- tako ($4.50). Jughead looked curious and quizzed L on the flavour profile of octopus, as he’s never tried it.  L offered Jughead a piece but he declined.

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I suggested that Veronica try the Spicy Crispy Prawns ($4.50), because since the prawns were cooked, Jughead might try it. When prompted to describe what she was eating, Veronica said it was cold, crunchy and tasted like delicousness. Jughead said it was a succulent prawn morsel.

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I ordered a Spider Roll ($6.95). Yum. This was the least sauced of all the rolls that were ordered. I liked tasting the separate flavours of rice, tobiko, avocado and still warm deep-fried crab.

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Veronica ordered two rolls – the Royal Sushi Roll ($8.90) and Ocean Mountain Roll ($6.50). L doesn’t normally like non traditional sushi, but he enjoyed what he ate.  The sauces were a mix of sweet and spicy.

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It wasn’t just One Chubby Hamster and her friends that enjoyed themselves at Point Sushi. L and I were delighted watching our orders come zooming to our table. It’s fun and entertaining experience, particularly if you haven’t been to Japan. I can see this restaurant being a big hit with families. Thanks One Chubby Hamster for inviting us to your birthday. The party was on point.

Point Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Korean · Restaurants

Katsuten -L’s bday lunch

It was L’s birthday on Saturday. I asked him where he wanted to go for lunch. He said no where far and something warm. I reminded him of Katsuten, which is a five-minute walk from our house. For this post, let’s listen to Shape of You by Ed Sheeran, with a dance choreographed by Kyle Hanagami.

Katsuten doesn’t take reservations. When we arrived at 12:30 p.m., the room was more than half full. Soon after, there was a line-up. Pro tip. If your group is bigger than two people, come right when the restaurant opens to guarantee a seat.

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There was only one server for the whole restaurant. Despite the line-up, takeout and serving the rapid turnover of tables, she remained cool as a cucumber and efficient. We were well looked after and felt service was uncompromised despite how busy the restaurant became.

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L and I shared the Cheese Katsu ($17.90) and Creamy Curry Udon ($14). The katsu comes with miso soup, rice and a cabbage salad. In my past visits, the only thing that prevented me from loving this restaurant was the rice. Well, that’s been rectified. The rice was good. The grain looked like what I use at home – Kokuho Rose. I like how firm each grain of rice is and that it has a bit of a chew. The cabbage was drizzled with a yellow dressing that was nice and bright, which was refreshing after eating fried food.

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The cheese was warm and soft. Against the fluffy, fried breading, it was like eating a grilled cheese sandwich, but more decadent. The cheese makes the katsu tasted even richer. I would recommend sharing this dish.

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Our server instructed us to mix the topping with the noodles because the potato cream is cold. Marvelous. The noodles were chewy and slippery in a heady curry gravy of bacon, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and green onions.

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L thought the combination of curry and cream was unusual and delicious. The curry wasn’t hot or overpowering. More of a hint that complimented the bacon and potato cream.

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The katsu here rivals the best I’ve tried in Japan. I didn’t realize how full I was until I got up to pay the bill. For this feast, our bill was only $35. I’d say that’s a steal for katsu of this calibre. I love this place so much, I’m putting it Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. I give Katsuten two fat thumbs up.

Katsuten Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burgers · Dessert · Fusion · Japanese · Restaurants

Gorilla Whale

After a particularly mundane Monday, I was keen to get out and try a new restaurant. I saw on Instagram that Gorilla Whale was opening to the public for the very first time! I’m not one for visiting a restaurant on its opening day, but I had a good feeling about this place.

The space is cool and casual, with lots of natural light streaming in through the windows. Gorilla Whale plays a rad, rock and roll playlist. We were treated to Duran Duran (Hungry like the Wolf), The Breeders (Cannonball), Blondie (Atomic Blonde), Vaughan Mason and Crew (Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll). For this post, let’s listen to One Way or Another by Blondie.

L ordered a sleeve of Bright Young Things (Dandy Brewery, $5) and I tried the Gorilla Whale Ginger Beer ($6.50), a collaboration between Village Brewery and the restaurant. This is my type of drink! The rice lager was light, refreshing and sweet,  like the kombucha I get at the Little French Market on 17th Ave. Except at Gorilla Monkey, the taste of ginger is more subtle. I would order this beer again.

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We started off with Milk Bread with Togarashi (red pepper flakes) Bone Marrow Butter ($6). The bread was dry, light, and crumbly, a good vessel for the rich, salty butter. It was messy too. By the time we finished our crusty loaf, our table was covered in fine crumbs.

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L and I shared one order of the chicken thighs ($6) and halloumi cheese skewers ($6). I was surprised how well the dipping sauce of egg yolk and “house tare” paired with the cheese and chicken. I was skeptical at first because the dipping sauce isn’t exactly a looker. I looked up the definition of house tare on the good old Internet but was unsuccessful in learning its meaning. Whatever it is, it tastes good and made our skewers pop with flavour.

skewers

The chunks of chicken thigh were juicy and nicely charred on the outside. The addition of chicken skin gave the meat an extra layer of flavour. The exterior of the halloumi cheese was like how toasted and caramelized a marshmallow gets over a campfire. When I return, I plan to order these skewers again, and I want to try the pork belly, shitake mushroom and oyster next.

Around this time, L knocked over his nearly full sleeve of beer. The liquid went right under the seat of our neighbor and splashed her arm. We both sat there in shocked silence for a few seconds. I even closed my eyes and then opened them, hoping it was just a dream. Then I was tempted to keep eating and pretend nothing happened. L apologized profusely and asked if he could pick up her tab to make up for the unwanted shower of Bright Young Things. She graciously declined. One of the owners came over and mopped up our table and brought over a new beer for L, even though he said he didn’t need/deserve it.  There was a guy at the very front of the restaurant by the window that thought it was hilarious. He was laughing hysterically. Glad you enjoyed the show buddy. So happy we could amuse you.

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L and I shared the Chicken Karrage Burger with greens ($16). The only thing Japanese about the burger was the karrage. This was a legit tasting karrage. The skin was brittle, light and crackled into tiny shards in my mouth. The chicken was seasoned and succulent. The bun and toppings were not Japanese’ish at all. The sharpness of the cheddar cheese, the still hot, crispy piece of bacon and tangy coleslaw worked well with the karrage. The salad was simple but fresh – micro greens dressed in a sweet vinaigrette.

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Everyone in the restaurant was ordering ramen. I ordered the duck confit ramen ($16). The broth was quite salty. I couldn’t really taste anything but the broth. I think it was just my bowl because I saw everyone else drinking all the liquid from their bowls. The yolk and egg white was a tad too raw for me. I did enjoy the sprouted peanuts in my bowl, as the taste reminded me of fresh peas. The presentation was lovely.

I’m looking forward to returning to try more skewers and that awesome karrage burger. Gorilla Whale serves up Japanese’ish food, but they take their own liberties that I haven’t seen in other restaurants. If you don’t come here expecting the usual Japanese fusion or anything “authentic”, you will leave happy. Gorilla Whale is completely different from Carino Reserva, Redheads, Ke Charcoal, or Shokunin. I personally dig what Gorilla Whale is serving.

The value is excellent. For more food than we needed and two beers (well, three technically), the bill was only $65.00.

Gorilla Whale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato