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.

tempura

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.

udon

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.

special

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.

hot roll

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.

Sushi

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.

dessert

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.

empur

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’.

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi

Sukiyaki House – COVID-19 dine-in edition

To celebrate my good news, I told L that I was taking him out for dinner at Sukiyaki House. Judith, Justin and Chef Koji Kobayashi must have also been in a celebratory mood because they spoiled us rotten with complimentary bougie treats. For this post, let’s listen to “Wanna Be A Baller” by Lil’ Troy.

Judith treated us to a taste of Masumi, a sparkling sake that is fermented using an ancestral method. The sake tasted like a mellow champagne. When I sipped on this liquid gold, my entire scalp tingled.

sparkling

Judith also poured us a glass of an exclusive bottle of sake. Jikon is a sought after brand in Japan – there are only 30 stores that carry this sake. She informed us that Kiyashō brewery was going down the drain until his son decided to take sake into a different direction. He wanted to make a better product, so he focused on a smaller batches of sake, paying more attention to koji and rice quality.

sake glass

Judith added that omachi is one of the oldest rice strains with no cross breeding. This type of rice is extremely hard to grow due to its tall height, which can get damaged easily in the wind. Omachi rice grain is also difficult to brew due to its fat round shape. Brewers prefer to work with a flat grain. The extra effort is worth it because omachi rice creates sakes that are layered, earthy, diversified, and herbal.

sake

As we were enjoying our sake tasting, Chef Koji Kobayashi sent over a stunning plate of red snapper sashimi. His food is art because it appeals to our sight, smell and taste. Sorry Koji, my poor attempt at photography doesn’t do your work justice.

sashimi

The fish was so buttery soft it melted on my tongue. With each bite, I’d take a piece of snapper, swirl it in the ponzu sauce and then top it off with the micro greens and a flower. I thought I could taste sesame in the little crunchy bits sprinkled on the top.

bite

We ordered the Assorted Tempura ($20) and a pint of the Asahi Draft ($7). Our tempura arrived steaming hot. This is the first time since Japan that I’ve been impressed by the taste and texture of tempura.

beer

Judith instructed us to add the grated ginger and daikon into our tempura sauce. The batter was pale blonde, ultra light and crisp. The tempura tasted clean, not the least bit oily or greasy. Double damn – this was some fine ass tempura.

Tempura

My favourite pieces of tempura were the kinoko (enoki mushroom) and black tiger shrimp. I enjoyed the process of pulling the delicate enoki legs apart and then dipping it into the sauce.

mushroom

The shrimp was cooked until it was a pretty pink hue. The shrimp meat was delicately crunchy and sweet. Next time, I want to special order just the shrimp and enoki mushrooms. The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care (Emily Dickinson, 1862).

platter

We ordered a selection of our favourite pieces of nigiri. Aka Maguro ($4.20); Hotategai ($4.20); Amaebi ($4), Ebi ($3); Kani ($3.70); Maguro ($3); Shake Atlantic ($3); and Sockeye ($3.50). Always having the same sushi chefs at the helm means that we can expect the same consistency when we dine at Sukiyaki House. Yet again, the sushi rice was perfectly cooked and seasoned. This is important to me, as personally, I think the rice is just as important as the fish.

ebi

I preferred the firmer texture and richer flavour of the sockeye salmon over Atlantic salmon. Compared to the sockeye, the Atlantic tasted milder and fattier. The cooked shrimp was excellent, with its trademark crunchy texture and sweet flavour. Unlike other Japanese restaurants, the ebi at Sukiyaki House actually has flavour.

shrimp

The regular maguro (tuna) was smooth and tasty, but the fatty, satiny Aka Maguro (bluefin fatty tuna) was mind blowing. Spend the extra dollar and get the blue fin tuna! Best buck you’ll ever spend. L enjoyed it so much he wanted to get a second piece.

scallop

I love the way the sushi chef prepares the hotategai. The scallop is sliced so that all the silky crevices glide all over your tongue. Sensational! I don’t know any other sushi restaurant that does this.

second order

L’s colleague Dallas recently told him that he dined out at a fancy Japanese influenced restaurant.  One of the dishes was a $12 slice of raw fish. Dallas said he wished the server told him why this piece of fish was so special to warrant the price tag, because as someone who doesn’t know much about sushi, he wanted to know what he was eating. L wants to bring Dallas and his wife to Sukiyaki House to get an understanding of the high standard used in excellent Japanese cuisine. At Sukiyaki House, not only do you get Koji – who is trained in Japanese fine dining and Yuki – a sushi artist, but you also get educated by servers whose knowledge of saki and food enhances the experience by giving you a deeper appreciation of the food and drink you are consuming.

Sukiyaki House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Japanese · Restaurants

True World Grocery Store – COVID-19 edition

Have you every eaten an excellent bowl of instant ramen? In Japan, I could buy an instant version of an award winning ramen made by Nissin Foods and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Back home in Calgary, I noticed the ramen from T&T Supermarket and E-Mart isn’t nearly as good as the Nakiryu and Nissin ramen I bought at 7-Eleven.

L agrees with me. As a result, we buy our instant ramen at True World Foods, a grocery store that sells authentic groceries from Japan and take away lunches. For this post, let’s listen to “She’s Just My Style” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

True World sells a limited amount of freshly made sushi and sashimi. On our most recent visit, the special of the day was a plate of sushi and a bottled beverage for only eleven bucks. We bought the Coho Salmon Sushi ($10.99) and a Mixed Sushi Roll ($10.99).

salmon

The salmon was tender and fat with flavour. The mayonnaise offered a spicy kick, which helped to liven up the cold, thick mound of sushi rice. I found the portion surprisingly filling.

sushi

The mixed maki roll was filled with tuna, salmon, avocado, tobiko and Kiwi mayonnaise. Despite the fact the roll was made beforehand and eaten after a long car ride home, it was still one of the better rolls I’ve tried in Calgary. The tuna and salmon were so flavourful, it was obvious True World uses high quality seafood.

sushi piece

I only buy soba noodles ($7.99) if one of the ingredients is yam. Otherwise, I find the noodles too soft. I couldn’t tell the difference between the soba noodles I bought from True World and E-Mart. Both stores charge roughly the same price.

soba pack

I add a healthy squirt of wasabi to the dipping sauce (soba tsuyu), toss in the noodles, then top my bowl with nori, a sliced farm egg, green onions and cucumber. No matter how hard I try, my version isn’t nearly as tasty as the premade soba I bought from 7/11.

noodles

L and I tried a pack of ACE Cook Wonton Mein ($12.99). L informed me that Chinese  ramen is popular in Japan because ramen originated from China. I didn’t care for the wonton broth, I prefer miso or tonkatsu.

ramen pack

We tried this ramen with the seasoning included, a miso soup package, and the leftover broth from Con Mi Taco. The noodles were good –  thick and toothsome. I’d buy this pack again, but in a different flavour.

nood pull

I found the noodle texture of the ACE Cook Wonton mein superior to the Ace Cook Maru Uma Miso Ramen ($3.99) instant noodle cup.  The miso noodles were light and almost papery in texture. The broth was mild, the dominant flavour came from the sweet kernels of corn.

instant

When I cooked up the Daikoku Big Sauce Yakisoba with Spicy Mayo ($4.99), I added enoki mushrooms and a poached egg. I wouldn’t do this again because the extra ingredients watered down the yakisoba sauce.

Despite being too watery, the flavour of the sauce was still creamy and spicy. The noodles had a good chew to it. I’d buy the yakisoba noodles again.

Make sure you google the instructions on how to prepare the noodles because there is no English translation. Some of the packages include two or three seasoning packages, and in the case of the yakisoba and tempura soba noodles, there’s an order to follow procedure of draining the noodles and layering the seasoning.

When I made the Nissan Tempura Soba Noodles ($5.99), I mistakenly poured the hot water over the tempura cake. I should have added the cake after the noodles were cooked. Despite my error, this was still a killer bowl of noodles.

The broth was legit. The tempura, despite my blunder, had that same distinct flavour I experienced in Japan. The soba noodles were a tad light and lacked that bite I like. However, the flavour of the broth made this worth it. I drank every last drop, and I normally try not to drink the broth because of the fat and sodium.

Whenever L and I visit any Asian grocery store or bakery, he always buys mochi. He stated emphatically that True World sells the best mochi in Calgary. You can find several varieties in the freezer section.

Screen Shot 2020-05-16 at 8.41.19 AM

Here’s my final tip for you. If you show up two hours before the store closes, you get 10% off select sushi and sashimi. I hear from reliable sources that the sashimi in particular is stellar.

Screen Shot 2020-05-16 at 8.42.15 AM

 

Japanese · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Sushi

Sukiyaki House – Birthday Dinner

My last meal at Sukiyaki House was so memorable, I returned a week later to celebrate my milestone birthday. That day, L and I were literally counting down the hours before our dinner. For this post, let’s listen to “Number 1” by Goldfrapp.

Justin called L to confirm our reservations. He also wanted to check with him that the ingredients and price range of the two dishes that head chef Koji Kobayashi wanted to create for our meal was suitable. That’s some next level customer service. We were impressed with Justin’s consideration of our taste and budget.

sake 2

L and I toasted to my old age with a flute of Kozaemom Junmai Ginjo Omachi ($12). I thought this sake was fragrant with a viscosity similar to a riesling.  I also tried Kuheiji ($15), which in comparison to the other sake was more delicate. If pretty had a flavour, it would be Kuheiji. I’m a fan of both sakes.

glass

Koji made two special off the menu dishes for us. The first to arrive was Koji’s signature dish – Duck Breast with Braised Daikon, Foie Gras Mousse and Matcha Potato Brûlée ($24). Personally, I think Justin should have charged much more for this dish. The portion was huge, and the flavours were stunning. I could tell a lot of labour, love and talent when into this dish.

duck

The duck is sous vide for five hours, resulting in tender, succulent meat. The edging of duck fat melted beautifully as I chewed. The duck gravy was so mouth-watering that I wanted bread to mop up every last drop. The matcha brûlée was lacy and crisp, a nice contrast to the velvety smooth foie gras. The daikon was so warm and juicy, it made me weak in the knees. I know it’s early in the year, but so far, this is the best dish of 2020.

duck piece

The second dish Koji prepared just for us was Aji Four-Ways ($45), but I think it should be called Aji Five-Ways. L thought this dish showcased Koji’s talent for knowing how to combine different flavours and ingredients together.

platter

Koji used an entire horse mackerel flown in from Japan to create five different experiences. The sashimi showcased the strong flavour of the mackerel –  light and not fatty like tuna or salmon.

tartare

For some reason, I thought the mackerel nigiri was more mellow in comparison to the sashimi. L thought the fresh wasabi and the crispness of the scallions were the perfect pairing for the fish.

fish nirg platter

The mackerel tempura was tossed with matsukaze matcha and rice cracker batter that reminded me of cornmeal. The texture of the fish reminded me of a fish meatloaf nugget. I thought approach created a scrumptious bite that illuminated the oily, dense flesh.

tempura

I found the mackerel tartare light in flavour but heavy in texture. I could taste a hint of  fresh ginger, soy and mirin in the mixture. I love the colourful garnish of flowers and greens on top of the tartare.

fish bone

The deep-fried bones made for a nice crispy snack. At this point, I was getting too full so I only nibbled on the meatier bones. I appreciated that Koji used a type of fish I’m unfamiliar with. The texture and taste of horse mackerel made me think because it wasn’t the usual salmon or tuna I’m accustomed to eating. This dish was a thoughtful creation and got us out of the comfort zone of eating the more common and popular types of Japanese fish.

uni

Justin informed me the Uni Sea Urchin ($15) I ordered has a premium platinum status. Flown in from Hokkaido, the uni was unlike the more common type in British Columbia. I’ve never eaten uni so sweet and creamy, it melted in my mouth. So good, I had a foodgasm.

nigiri platter

The Aki Maguro Chu Toro ($4.20) was nice and fatty. I also liked the fat high content in the Shima Suzuki Striped Seabass ($5). The bass was smooth and firm, with a sweet aftertaste. The Ebi  ($3) at Sukiyaki House is consistently superior than other Japanese restaurants. The steamed prawn was crunchy and flavourful.

crab

The Kani ($3.70) was also a winner. The crab was sweet and juicy. The texture of the crab meat was tender and flaky. I’d order this again.

shrmip head

I happily chomped on my Amaebi ($4). The raw shrimp was perfectly crunchy and cool on my tongue. The fried shrimp head was still warm when I ate it. Oh my goodness – turning forty never tasted so good.

chopped

This part of our meal always gets my heart racing with sweet anticipation – raw scalllops. The Special Scallop ($3.80) was full of buttery goodness, dotted with the crunchy, salty pop of fish roe. The chew of the nori was a good contrast to the creamy scallop mixture.

scallop flower

A highlight of our selection of nigiri was the Hotategai ($4.20). The scallop was sliced in a way that it gave the same sensation of being chopped. The scallop crevices glided over my tongue like silk. When I chewed, the scallop fell apart in my mouth in a textural explosion. Below is a photo of me after eating the hotategai. I have to credit sous chef Yuki Koyama for his sushi masterpiece. Phenomenal. Yuki truly is an artist.

me

For dessert, we shared the Matcha Shiratama Zenzai ($9) and a glass of plum wine – Ume Niwa No Uguisu Tomari Umeshu ($10, 3 ounce). I don’t normally like plum wine, but this wine was delightfully tart and refreshing.

UMI

I knew the moment our dessert hit our table that L would be pleased. After ten years together, I can read him like a book.  If you appreciate the subtlety of Japanese sweets, you will love this dessert. The mochi was soft and smooth. The flower was still warm, and I thought I could taste the essence of mandarin oranges. The grapes gave a nice pop of sourness, a contrast to the natural sweetness of the red bean paste.

dessert

L and I were surprised that we didn’t have a favourite dish of the night. Everything, from the specialty dishes to each piece of nigiri was spectacular. I highly recommend that if you want to try something authentic or non-pedestrian to call ahead of time and arrange something with Justin. My Instagram friend lovegastrogirl is the opposite of me and she is a super baller. I told her to contact Justin so he and Koji can prepare something special for her.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 5.23.04 PM

Sukiyaki House is something special. This is artistry and craftsmanship in culinary motion. With Koji and Yuki at the culinary helm and Justin at the hospitality front, they are an unstoppable trio. Thank you for preparing such a memorable meal for me. You are ichiban (#1) in  my books.

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

Fusion · Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi

Big Catch – 2.0

I had a long week. To improve my mood, L suggested I pick a restaurant for dinner.  I remembered Big Catch expanded from its small kiosk inside Market on Macleod into a full service restaurant in the Save-On-Foods shopping plaza (#130-8835 Macleod Tr. SW).

For this post, let’s listen to Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (recomposed by Max Richter). I think this segment suits Big Catch’s food. Also, I find the emotional range of the violin electrifying.

L admired the woodwork across the walls. He wants to create something similar in our new house. When L complimented the interior design, one of the owners – Non  – informed us the interior was designed by Tomo Nakahara.

interior design.jpg

L and I started off with Agedashi Tofu ($6.95) with kalamansi mushroom sauce. L liked how the daikon and sauce remained on the tofu. I enjoyed the crispy, chewy outer layer of the tofu. The brown topping was tasty, made from four types of mushrooms, sake and low sodium soy sauce.

aga tofu.jpg

Non recommended the evening’s special appetizer – Chicken Nanban ($8.75). I noticed the chicken wasn’t heavily battered or super crunchy. As a result, I could better taste the marinade. L raved about the dipping sauce, which he thought was refreshing and light, similar to tzatziki sauce.

karage.jpg

Non was excited when he talked about the specialty rolls – all of which are Big Catch’s original creation. He recommended the Autumn Haze ($15.95) and the Iron Goddess ($15.95).

whole bowl first set.jpg

The presentation was so alluring, I was drawn into the plate. I marveled at the colours painted and dotted along the rim of the bowl. The placement of the garnishes and  flowers on the sushi was stunning. We didn’t even realize that the paint on the bowl was edible until half way through our meal.

special sushi closeu.jpg

Each piece of sushi was bite-sized. I noticed there was no reliance on mayonnaise in any of the rolls. Non confirmed there was only one roll that had mayonnaise – the Passion Sunrise.

whole art nigiri.jpg

L wanted to try the nigiri to see how it compared to their specialty rolls. We ordered a Dynamite Roll ($6.50), two pieces of Atlantic Salmon Nigiri ($2.25), two pieces of Albacore Tuna Nigiri ($2.25) and one piece of Bluefin Toro Nigiri ($4.50).

close up nigiri set.jpg

The Albacore Tuna was soft and delicious. The taste of the tuna really shone through and just melted in my mouth. I thought the Bluefin Toro had a stronger, fishier taste. I was almost sorry to eat each piece, as it took away from the beauty on the plate.

nigiri.jpg

I saw several customers dropping in to pick up platters to go. If you check out their takeout menu, you’ll see that there are specially priced combos and platters. I also noticed Big Catch is vegetarian friendly and even has a new vegan roll coming soon.

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 9.42.13 AM.png

Don’t expect to get the volume you would get at an all-you-can-eat sushi joint. Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing. But at Big Catch, the prices are more than reasonable. Our feast come up to $70 and we were both full.

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 9.46.47 AM.png

Big Catch is a place for those who appreciate visually gorgeous food in unpretentious digs. L and I can’t wait to return to sample more of the menu. If you are a fan of art and sushi, you need to check out Big Catch. For the full experience, dine in. If you want to eat from the comfort of your house, their takeout is fabulous and well-priced.

Big Catch Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Japanese · Sushi

Sushi Bistro Anzu – Birthday Lunch

For my birthday lunch, my office family took me to Sushi Bistro Anzu. I picked Anzu because neither Asian Persuasion, What’s up Hamsup and Office Dad have been before. Also, the bento boxes offer wicked variety and value. Office Dad threw a hissy fit in the car when I told him the reasons I picked the restaurant. He retorted that he doesn’t like bento boxes. I told him when it’s his birthday, he can decide where to go. He sulked in the backseat and would intermittently start an argument with the other members of the office family.

When we arrived at Sushi Anzu, we ordered green tea ($1.50) and gyoza ($6.00) to start. The gyoza here is tasty. It tasted homemade with its silky, extra big wrapper and juicy, flavourful pork filling.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.36 PM.png

We all order slightly different versions of the same bento box ($13.99). Office Dad and I picked mackerel, tempura and sashimi as our main proteins. Our combos also came with a hot, flavourful bowl of miso, rice, a salad and a side dish of root vegetables and tofu. The tempura was oily and not as light or fresh as Red Ember‘s version.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.01.45 PM.png

This was my first time eating grilled mackerel. I ate the skin too. The flesh is heavier and has a more pronounced flavour than cod, salmon and tuna.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.14 PM.png

The cuts of sashimi were small but fresh. I thought each piece of fish was cut well and when you bite into it, it would cleanly tear away from your teeth.

Office Dad enjoyed his food and exclaimed how much he likes bento boxes because of the variety and generous portions. I pounced on him in a millisecond. “I told you that I picked this restaurant because you guys like bento boxes.” He nodded in agreement and responded, “I know. I don’t know what got into me earlier. I think I was just hungry.” Damn Office Dad, I’ll be keeping a Snickers in my purse for when you get hangry again.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.22 PM.png

What’s Up Hamsup picked the pan-fried sliced beef with Anzu’s special yakiniku sauce, breaded deep-fried tenderloin pork cutlet and nigiri.  He really liked the sauce  and the onions in the sliced beef dish. I took a bite and it was tasty and tasted homemade.

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-9-01-55-pm

Asian Persuasion picked the same thing but chose sashimi instead of sushi. She wasn’t a fan of the katsu sauce.  She also thought the salad was plain. I agreed, the dressing on the lettuce was almost nonexistent.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.05 PM.png

Office Dad insisted the four of us share dessert. He wanted to order mango ice-cream but Asian Persuasion and I both told him we would rather have sesame ice-cream. Since it was my birthday, he consented. Man, I love the taste of sesame, it’s so nutty and rich.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.28 PM.png

Service was great and the food was excellent value. Asian Persuasion, What’s Up Hamsup and Office Dad still think Red Ember has the best bento box in the city. Red Ember is awesome and I always enjoy the food and service. However, Sushi Bistro Anzu is a nice alternative if you want to try traditional Japanese dishes. Both Red Ember and Sushi Bistro Anzu get two thumbs up from me.


Sushi Bistro Anzu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese

Roku Japanese Restaurant- Bday Lunch

Asian Persuasion is turning 31! Ah, I remember the good old days when she was a mere 29 years old. To celebrate her birthday, I booked a reservation at Roku. If you’ve read the reviews on Yelp and Zomato and seen the fan fare on Instagram, you’ll know that there is a big foodie following for Roku, more so than my favourite Japanese restaurant in Calgary, Zipang. This visit was my second time at Roku. I picked Roku because Asian Persuasion loved Zipang but she wanted to go somewhere new.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.06.45 PM.png

What’s Up Hamsup protested because I picked a restaurant so far from work. He said I was exhibiting white privilege behaviour as I was married to L. I’m not sure if white privilege can be transferred by right of marriage or how picking a place that is out of the way can constitute such a claim, but I decided it was best to just not go there with him. Duly noted sir, for next time – restaurant should be within 10 minutes of the office.

Being the man that he is, What’s Up insisted he didn’t need to use his GPS (which I kept accidentally calling a UPS) to find Roku. Asian Persuasion told What’s Up to go to Sonia’s house, their mutual friend, but I guess he didn’t listen or forgot where Sonia use to live. We ended up in Rocky Ridge, passing Royal Oak by 10 minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.06.08 PM.png

We finally got to Roku, which is situated in a maze-like strip mall. We ordered green tea ($2.00 per person) to drink. Office Dad ordered the sashimi and chicken karrage lunch combo ($15.00), which came with miso soup, a salad, a bowl of rice and a small scoop of potato salad. He asked our server at least four times how to pronounce karrage (KAH-rah-AH-ge). Āiyā (translation -tsk tsk) Office Dad – let us order our food!

Asian Persuasian ordered the sashimi and tempura lunch combo ($15.00). Asian Persuasion thought the sashimi at Zipang tasted a bit fresher. Office Dad concurred.

What’s Up ordered beef teriyaki and sushi lunch combo ($15.00). He liked the California roll, which he claimed tasted like there was plenty mayonnaise. His bowl of rice came too late, after he had already finished his beef.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.06.18 PM.png

I enjoyed my pick – the sashimi and sushi plate ($17.00). This combo doesn’t come with rice but I did get a bland salad and a hot, richly flavoured bowl of miso soup. The nigiri was well-made and the raw fish was cool in temperature and a generous cut. The rice was nicely seasoned, sticky and perfectly cooked.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.05.53 PM.png

What’s Up and Office Dad thought the cooked food was good. The prices are reasonable and the portion sizes won’t leave you hungry at the end of the meal. If you’re in the hood, this is a solid place for Japanese food.

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

View my food journey on Zomato!

Japanese · Seafood

Red Ember – Lunch

I’ve been on a Red Ember rampage. This time around, I convinced my office family to join me for lunch. There is a long list of lunch specials, around the $15.00 mark. Be warned – the portions are large.

Asian Persuasion enjoyed the strong green tea,  which only cost a dollar per person. Our server constantly refilled our big teapot throughout lunch.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.22.16 PM

At my recommendation, Office Dad ordered the chirashi ($16.99). We received the usual pieces of salmon, tuna, snapper, scallop, octopus, clam and the highlight – seared salmon belly. Office Dad enjoyed the thick slices of fish. He prefers the tuna and salmon at Zipang over Red Ember. However, Office Dad said that without a doubt, Red Ember wins in the value department. While I also favour Zipang’s white tuna and salmon, their scallop is sometimes fishy, unlike Red Ember, which come large, luscious and sweet. Plus, the prices at Red Ember are wallet-friendly. I tried to trade a piece of my salmon for Office Dad’s scallop, but he declined my offer. Dammit. The scallop was the size of a big old fat west coast oyster. The salmon belly was superb.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.22.44 PM

Asian Persuasion ordered the tempura and sashimi combo ($15.50). She thought the sushi rice and tempura were particularly good. Though she enjoyed everything, she couldn’t finish everything on plate. Office Dad ate her surf clam and a piece of What’s Up Hamsup’s dynamite roll.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.22.37 PM

What’s Up Hamsup ordered the teriyaki chicken and sushi combo. He really liked the salad dressing. He saved the salmon nigiri sushi for last because he says he wants it to be the last thing he tastes. I totally know what he means, that’s why I save the skin off my fried chicken to eat at the very end. The dynamite roll was well-made. The shrimp tempura was freshly made, the layer of rice well-formed.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.22.26 PM

When What’s Up Hamsup heard that I prefer my sashimi cool rather than at room temperature. He said that in Japan, because the sashimi is so fresh, it’s served at room temperature as it allows the flavours to come through. Serving raw fish at cooler temperature masks less than fresh fish. Point taken, but here in landlocked Calgary, I don’t mind tricks to make raw fish taste better. I don’t know how “fresh” one can get it here, as I heard fish is frozen and then shipped to Cowtown (not sure if this is true or not). I guess when I go to Japan, I’ll see for myself.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.22.32 PM

We returned to work full and giddy. In one of the elevators, and in front of other employees, Office Dad exclaimed he was going to fart. We badgered him and then entered the final set of stairs to our office. Office Dad opened the door and turned to me and said, “You know I was joking right? I wasn’t really going to fart.” When I walked through the door, right behind Office Dad,  I smelled sulphur. I covered my mouth and pushed my way back out the door, shouting “Gross! (Insert Office Dad’s real name _____) farted! Disgusting!” The odour was so strong, the rest of the family stumbled out into the hallway. Office Dad’s face turned bright red and he said,”It wasn’t me. It’s rank in there but it wasn’t me.” Sure Office Dad, sure.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Red Ember Japanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese

Sushi Bar Zipang – Office Dad’s Father’s Day Lunch

Asian Persuasion and I took Office Dad out for a belated Father’s Day lunch. What’s Up Hamsup didn’t show because he’s a bad office son. I  picked Zipang because Office Dad loves high quality sashimi. As we walked up to Office Dad’s car, Asian Persuasion and I politely offered each other the front seat. Office Dad said, “You both sit in the back”, and starting throwing some stuff from the back seat in the front seat. I thought he was joking until I saw him gently lay a white coat over the front seat. “What? What is this, Driving Miss Daisy?” Asian Persuasion quipped. Office Dad explained that only his wife could sit in the front seat. I’ll have to remember to tell my husband about this rule. I think it’s a good one.

Asian Persuasion and my view from the back.
Asian Persuasion and my view from the back seat.

We got to the restaurant and ordered three green teas ($4.50) chicken yakitori ($7.00), two sashimi lunch specials ($18.50) and one sushi and sashimi lunch special ($16.50).

miso

The tea was strong and hot. Office Dad is always courteous and refills our teacups at Chinese restaurants. At Zipang, the cups are taller than  your typical teacups and the tea is served hot. Office Dad would fill the cups up with tea to the top. I said to him, “Thank you for filling up our tea. However, mind if I offer a suggestion? Perhaps you should only fill it half way, so that the tea stays hot and we don’t burn our fingers trying to drink it”. Office Dad started to argue with me but then laugh when he noticed my dirty napkin wrapped around the cup. I showed him my red fingertips as proof.

One of Asian Persuasion’s favourite foods is chicken yakitori. The aroma of the chicken was mouth-watering, the dark meat full of flavour, hot and juicy.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.29.32 PM

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.28.23 PM

The temperature of all the seafood was ideal, cool on the tongue. I find most places in Calgary don’t serve sashimi at this temperature. It’s either too warm or frozen. My favourite cut was the salmon, which was fresh, light and buttery. The octopus had a nice bite to it. The scallop was small and fishy. The only other minor quibble is I found the rice overcooked.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.28.46 PM

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.29.13 PM

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.29.21 PM

Office Dad was still hungry, so they ordered vanilla ice-cream ($4.50). We received three scoops with slices of strawberries.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.29.04 PM

I’m happy to report that both Office Dad and Asian Persuasion thought Zipang has some of the freshest sashimi they ever tried. Yay! Happy Father’s Day Office Dad. So glad you enjoyed your meal.
View my food journey on Zomato!

Sushi Bar Zipang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato