I didn’t even have to ask L where he wanted to celebrate his birthday. Instead, I just requested a day that he wasn’t working late. For this post, let’s listen to “Business Time” by Flight of the Conchords.
Though we have eaten at Sukiyaki House countless times, this Friday was the first time we sat by the front window, which affords a city view of the lit up office buildings and skyline. I like this table, as it feels more secluded and date-like.
Judith recommended the feature carpaccio made with Hachibiki (Pacific Bonnetmouth), flown in from Japan. Whenever she makes a suggestion, it always blows our mind, so of course, we ordered the Hachibiki Carpaccio ($24).
Chef Koji Kobayashi slayed the presentation – the multi-coloured roes, ruby-pink fish, yellow petals, and purple and green greens sparkled in the light. What a beauty! Judith suggested a creamy sake to pair with the carpaccio. The mouthfeel of the sake was so sensual, with soft fruit and floral notes.
Hachibiki is a gentle-tasting fish, delicate and sweet. The roe was hard and crunchy, with a sea-like flavour. L loved the spicy heat in the ponzu sauce. He mentioned Chef Kobayashi’s dishes are very Japanese, but he puts his creative stamp on them. It amazes me how much talent and skill he displays consistently, time and time again.
We were lucky that night and the owner, Anna, made our tempura. The batter was so light, and the shrimp was so sweet and toothsome. The ultra-fragile batter, ginger, matcha salt and tentsuyu (dipping sauce) make Sukiyaki House’s version a standout.
I’m addicted to the California Roll ($13), which tastes nothing like the cheaper versions you can find in the city. Instead, the crab is sweet and meaty, the nori is freshly roasted, and the sesame seeds are noticeably toasted.
We ate the usual suspects – big fat scallops, hot and juicy deep-fried shrimp heads and crunchy cuts of octopus. Sweet Bejesus, what a feast!
The birthday boy didn’t want dessert. He only wanted a quiet night with no late partying. I was happy to oblige for this one weekend. Happy birthday, L!
L was craving sushi, but his beloved Sukiyaki House is closed on Sundays. I suggested Ki Sushi as an alternative as it is located minutes away from us. Ki Sushi replaced Katsuten, one of the OGs of katsu in Calgary. Since I’m on a Flight of the Conchords bender, let’s listen to “Rejected.”
We ordered a Salmon Maki ($5), Tuna Maki ($5), Salmon Nigiri ($2), Tuna Nigiri ($2), Tako ($2.70), Scallop Nigiri ($3), Chicken Karaage ($9), and Loin Katsu ($15). I enjoyed sipping on the miso soup, which was steaming hot, filled with tiny cubes of tofu and seaweed.
The first appetizer to arrive was our chicken karaage. The light, crumbly batter and the dry, KFC-like seasoning reminded me of Tawainese-style chicken popcorn. The reddish-orange dipping condiment reminded me of plum sauce.
We were fans of the tuna and salmon maki. Both rolls contained more fish than rice, and the nori was still crisp. The tuna filling was creamy and smooth. I could taste a touch of sweetness in the sushi rice. I found the wasabi particularly delicious, as it was creamy and extra spicy. I would get the maki rolls again.
The raw scallop was silky in texture and chubby. The size of the tuna and salmon nigiri was generous, though the temperature of the tuna and tako was a little too cold for us.
Our katsu came with steamed rice and a small side salad. The feathery bread crumbs were buttery and fluffy. The pork itself was thick and soft. I could detect a little cinnamon in the katsu sauce, which tasted homemade. This dish was a winner, but be warned, it is heavy.
If you visit, I would suggest making reservations and being as patient as possible, as Ki Sushi is a popular spot. When we were eating, there was a constant stream of customers dining in and picking up takeout. I’m glad Ki Sushi is located in our neighbourhood. It’s a solid choice for inexpensive and tasty eats.
On Saturday night, Québécoise and I checked out Lonely Mouth on 17th Ave. Since her in-laws were babysitting her girls, she was ready to rock and roll. The earliest reservation I could get was at 7:30 p.m., so we shared a bottle of wine at my place beforehand. I figured this girls’ night was the perfect excuse to try one of the bottles I’ve been saving from Vine Arts.
It felt nice to dress up again. I was so excited that for this occasion, I even donned my half-inch heels. However, this was probably one of the worst ideas I’ve had in a long time. With this in mind, let’s listen to “Fancy Shoes” by The Walters for this post.
Lonely Mouth is located in the old Ox and Angela spot, near UNA. The room is narrow and dimly lit, filled with a young demographic, primarily women in their twenties and early thirties. I was one of the more matronly patrons in the restaurant.
We started with a pretty pink cocktail – the Majira’s Ruin ($15). This dainty drink was an herby, sweet blend of gin, nigori sake, sparkling sake and a maraschino cherry. While I enjoyed the cocktail, I preferred the wine Québécoise picked out – Domaine Ventoura Chablis ($37, half a litre). My Cod, I love her taste in wine.She described the wine as clean and icy, and mentioned her husband always orders Chablis with sushi. He is a man of excellent taste!
The first dish of the night was my favourite – the Sashimi Platter ($26). I only ordered this because I saw Miss Foodie raving about the sashimi, and I know she gets this every time she visits. Québécoise liked how the sashimi was presented on a bed of ice and that there weretwo types of soy sauce. The white soy sauce was for the two kinds of tuna and scallops, and the dark soy sauce was for the salmon.Québécoise exclaimed the white soy sauce was so light and paired beautifully with the scallop. The scallop was ample and silky, mild and sweet. She liked how the soy sauce wasn’t too strong and didn’t overpower the fresh, creamy flavour of the tuna.
Québécoise noted that there was no toughness between the grains of flesh in king salmon. She also thought the size of the slices was perfect – neither too thick nor thin, which allowed one to get the full flavour experience out of each cut. The red tuna was leaner than the pink tuna, the latter being my favourite as I prefer the fattier, meltier types of fish. Without a doubt, I would get the sashimi again.
My second favourite dish was the Bluefin Tuna Tartare ($19). Holy mackerel, this dish has a lot going on.
The udon crackers were light, filled with bubbly air pockets. The crackly texture and taste reminded me of Chinese shrimp chips, which contrasted with the smoothness of the tartare. The creamy mixture of tuna, avocado and miso emulsion reminded Québécoise of mayonnaise. I would get the tuna tartare again.
Québécoise’s favourite dish was the Okonomiyaki Brussels Sprouts ($13). She thought this dish was original. She raved about the crisp fried seaweed, the parmesan cheese, and the crispy leaves of the Brussels sprouts.
We liked the Pickled Cucumbers ($6.50). The cucumbers gave off a floral scent. Québécoise noticed how cucumbers were scored with knife marks, which she thought helped saturate each crevice with its distinct, sour and salty tang.
We also tried a Negi Toro Roll ($7). I couldn’t taste the toro filling over the dominant flavour of the seaweed. Québécoise mentioned the rice was cool in temperature.
Québécoise loved the Sweet Potato Donuts ($7), with miso caramel and sesame gelato. I tried a bite and thought the donuts were a bit overcooked. She liked how the dessert wasn’t greasy or stupidly sweet. She detected a spice that we learned from our server was shichimi togarashi.
We enjoyed our meal and planned to take our husbands here for a double date. On the way to our Uber, I tripped over a step. Boom! Let me tell you, the saying that the bigger you are, the harder you fall is true! I told Québécoise it was a good thing I’m not a leg model. Otherwise, I would be out of commission. She retorted that I could still model for Band-Aid. Hitting the Sauce gives her inability to walk in heels two phat thumbs down.
L, Jacuzzi and I went out for sushi. Since it was Christmas Eve, our options were limited. I picked Mega Sushi because our family friend recommended this restaurant. Let’s listen to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Coldplay for this post.
Mega Sushi is located on Chatham Street in Steveston. As we walked over to the restaurant, I saw seagulls swooping and screeching along the pier. I always find their cries comforting, because it reminds me of my walks along Granville Island.
The service was friendly and efficient. I could hear the chefs speaking softly to each other in Korean. It’s not a big restaurant. There are about a handful of tables. However, this restaurant does heaps of takeout – throughout our visit, there must have been at least a dozen orders going out.
L and Jacuzzi told me to pick all the food. I heard the specialty rolls at Mega are popular, but all those rolls are covered in creamy sauces and filled with deep-fried seafood. We wanted sashimi and the simpler rolls. I ordered a Salmon Maki Roll (Atlantic, $3.99), Negitoro Maki Roll (tuna belly and green onion, $4.50), two Chopped Scallop Rolls ($5.50), Deluxe Sashimi ($35.95), two Hokkigai Surf Clam ($2.50) two Tako (octopus, $3.25), Aburi Combo (Atlantic salmon and toro $13.95) and two Miso Soups ($1.50).
The deluxe sashimi contained 18 pieces. The portions are generous – the sashimi was sliced into thick slabs. Each piece was from two to three bites.
The red tuna would have been perfect it wasn’t so cold. The salmon was fatty and creamy. I preferred the leaner, richer flavour of the sockeye. L was pleased with the octopus, which had a good crunch.
The surf clam was firm and sweet. Jacuzzi rarely eats out. He mentioned the tuna melted in his mouth. Jacuzzi was enjoying the taste of sashimi so much, he would smile, close his eyes and chew as slowly as possible. Then, in between bites of fish, he would cleanse his palate with ginger to better appreciate each new piece. Damn little brother, I have to take you out more often.
The salmon and negitoro rolls were nicely done. The seaweed was crisp and dry. Of the two rolls, I preferred the flavour of the tuna belly and green onion over the chunky filling of Atlantic salmon. I thought the sushi rice was nice, but L said it was a little too firm for his preference.
The chopped scallop roll was so good, we ordered a second. I liked the crunchy pop of the tobiko and the rich, eggy flavour of the Kewpie mayo. The scallops were plentiful, cool and silky on my tongue.
The seared Atlantic salmon and toro were tasty, I could taste the smoky flavour on the top layer of the fish. I’m glad I tried the aburi-style sushi, but I still prefer the more basic sushi.
We all agreed we would go back for the sushi and sashimi. The highlight for me on this visit was the freshness of the seafood we sampled. Hitting the Sauce gives Mega Sushi two fat thumbs up.
On Friday, we celebrated L’s birthday at Sukiyaki House. On that particular night, because the restaurant was short-staffed, I couldn’t request omakase (a special menu curated by the chef). L said that was fine with him, as everything off the regular menu is exceptional. For this post, let’s listen to “Waltz for Roxy” by The French Note.
To start the festivities, we ordered a bottle of Mizubasho Junmai Daiginjo ($55). Judith has superb taste – her sakes never disappoint. L marvelled at the smoothness and pureness of the rice wine. He said, unlike other sakes, this one was so easy to drink, almost like soda pop. This sake tasted so pretty; I could imagine fairies sipping it.
Head chef Koji Kobayashi sent over a stunning gift for L’s birthday – seabass and snow crab sushi. L and I just sat there a moment in silence – admiring the food art. I didn’t notice there was an absence of rice until L mentioned it to me. The silky texture of the fish on fish was sublime. The creamy sauce tasted like roasted sesame seeds with a touch of sweetness. I loved the sea burst pop of the salmon roe and the crunchier snap crackle of the tobiko. I was smiling the entire time I ate. I never experienced this flavour and texture combination before. This dish was incredible – the best thing I’ve eaten in 2021. I thought the seabass sushi illustrated Koji’s wide range of creative talent. After sampling Chef Koji’s specialty dishes in the past few years, I can say he has multiple platinum hits and not a one-hit-wonder.
Our next dish was another beauty – Kanpachi Tataki ($24). I think this was the first time I tried Amberjack. I found the texture of the fish unique – the flesh was substantial and buttery with a clean flavour profile. L appreciated the subtle smoky sear, which he thought added to the experience.
The Tekka Roll (tuna maki roll, $5) was outstanding. The tuna was rich and creamy, which contrasted with the crispness of the toasted nori. I don’t understand how with only three ingredients, a dish can taste so good. No picture was taken, as I had incorrectly assumed it would taste just like a regular old tuna maki roll.
I don’t know anyone else in the city that can do a better Shrimp Tempura ($12) than Sukiyaki House. The batter was light and flaky, and the shrimp was sweet and crunchy. My favourite part is the tempura sauce because I think the daikon and the grated ginger adds warmth and depth to the flavour profile.
If you like wings, you need to try the Chicken Karaage ($12). This is fried chicken perfection. The meat is so silky and tender, that chunks of meat easily split apart with a mere poke of a pair of chopsticks. The squeeze of lemon was perfect for helping cut into the fattiness of the crispy chicken skin. When I mentioned to L that the karaage was cheaper than wings at a pub, he noted that Sukiyaki House’s version also had no gristle or that purple bone marrow bruising you find in hot wings.
We ordered a round of nigiri: Amaebi (sweet spot prawn, fried shrimp head, $4); Ebi (steamed prawn, $3); Hotataegai (Hokkaido scallop, $4.20); Tako (steamed octopus, $3); Shake (Atlantic salmon, $3) and Toro (albacore tuna belly, $4.50). L mentioned all the crevices made eating the scallop an elevated experience.
I enjoy having sake at Sukiyaki House, but for some reason, whenever I eat sushi, I crave a dry white wine. I was happy with the sauvignon blanc ($11) Judith picked out for me as I found it a well-balanced, easy-drinking wine.
For dessert, the birthday boy ordered Matcha Shiratama ensai ($9). I noticed all the fruit was at the perfect stage of ripeness. L loves Sukiyaki House’s homemade red bean. When he was eating his dessert, he looked like a kid enjoying his special treat. I think L was Japanese in his past life. Myself, I think I was Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web. L can tell when I’m impressed with a meal because I always announce that if I died that night, I would die happy. I’m glad I woke up the next day because now I get to do it all over again. We are looking forward to Sukiyaki House’s future omakase nights. Thanks, Koji for making dinner a special event for L.
On June 10th, Alberta entered its Stage 2 reopening. No surprise here, to celebrate the lifting of government restrictions L and I dined at Sukiyaki House. For this post, let’s listen to “Dancing In The Streets” by Martha and The Vandellas.
This is my first dining out experience since I’ve started using Noom – a health and fitness app. I’ve never lasted more than six hours on any diet, but I figured it was time for me to become healthier. After surviving two days, I assessed Noom to be a Debbie downer. There are no fun foods that I can eat without breaking my daily calorie count. As Foodiegyal7 informed me, Noom is not a site for foodies. L timidly observed that I’m noticeably more irritable since I’ve been on Noom. Poor L.
Our server Judith has the best taste in sake. When we asked for a suggestion, she recommended Fukucho Hattanso 50 Junmai Daiginjo ($46, 10 ounce). The sake smelled fragrant. The flavour was light and clean, with a honeyed sweetness. If fairies existed, this would be their drink.
For our first dish, we ordered BC Spotted Prawns (market price). Head chef Koji Kobayashi hit a home run on this creation. The spotted prawns sat in a gorgeous tomato yuzu shisho sauce. The raw shrimp was soft and creamy. The sea lime green sauce was refined and balanced, with bright, summery notes. L said the hint of lime in the sauce reminded him of Mexico. I could eat this dish all day long. The fried shrimp heads were scrumptious. I could tell the difference between the BC prawns and the regular ones. The BC prawns are sweeter and the meat has a lighter flavour.
We ordered Sawagani Crabs ($2.50 each). I’ve seen these crabs before in the food markets in Tokyo and Kyoto. The shell was thin and crunchy, similar to the outside layer of a candied apple. When I bit into the crab, the flesh was warm and juicy, with no fishy aftertaste.
Every time we visit Sukiyaki House, we order the Tako Carpaccio ($16). The octopus was thinly sliced and crunchy. I loved the balanced flavours in the yuzu sauce and the added layers of texture and flavour from the topping of arugula, kewpie mayo and potato strings.
L ordered Kani (Snow Crab $3.7), Tako ($3), and Atlantic Salmon Nigiri ($3). He said the salmon melted in his mouth. The snow crab was sweet. L mentioned the sushi rice was a cut above other Japanese restaurants in Calgary. He liked how the amount of wasabi in each piece of nigiri was subtle and not overwhelming like other restaurants.
I ordered the Irodori Hiyashi Udon ($24). This is a great summer dish. The udon noodles were thin and chewy. The tamago (egg omelette) was sweet, with a soft firm texture. I thought the yuzu dashi broth perfectly highlighted the flavours of the hotategai (hokkaido scallop), hamachi (snapper), ebi (steamed shrimp) and Ikura (salmon roe).
We enjoyed being back so much that we didn’t want to leave after we finished dinner. Instead of dessert, I asked for the driest white wine and L ordered an Asahi, so we could sit and soak up the exuberant vibes. You could feel the excitement to be back from the customers. Better times are coming. I’m hoping Calgarians get their vaccine so we can get on with Stage 3.
Monday sucked balls. I told my man I was taking him out for dinner. Since we were both in a bad mood, I didn’t want to risk trying a new place. And for L, there is only one restaurant beyond reproach – and that is Sukiyaki House. For this post, let’s listen to “Buddy Holly” by Weezer.
We ordered a glass of Sohomare Tokubetsu Junmai Kimoto ($14, 3 ounce), which turned out to be L’s new all-time favourite sake. I found the Kimoto smooth, with a sweetness that blooms on the tongue. The flavour was pure and clean, without the booziness I find in some sakes.
L could smell mushroom and then after we finished our sake, honey. He wanted to buy a bottle for the house, but I don’t want something that delicious in our home. Summer is coming, and I can do without the temptation.
Our first appetizer to arrive was the Tako Carpaccio ($16). Double damn, this is a fabulous dish. The octopus was crisp and crunchy. The citrus dressing, mayonnaise, and crunchy seasoning went well with the greens and octopus.
Chef Yuki Koyama sent out a special dish for us to try – Hachibiki Carpaccio. The flesh was a reddish hue, with a firm, fatty texture. I had no idea that a slice of raw fish could have so much flavour. This fish is downright decadent. L loved the yuzu miso sauce, which he said reminded him a little of gomae, a Japanese spinach salad.
The Grilled Ika ($14) was cooked perfectly – each piece of squid was tender. I thought the ginger sauce made this dish the ultimate comfort food. L said the dish smelled a little like yakitori.
I wanted to try the Volcano Roll ($11) and L ordered a Tekka Roll ($5). The moment the plate hit our table; the smell of roasted nori wafted up. I enjoyed the warmth of the crisp sheet of nori against the cool, creamy tuna filling. The white sauce paired well with the squid in the Volcano roll, the combination reminded me of tzatziki and calamari.
Our selection of nigiri was excellent. I also noticed how much larger the seafood was in the nigiri compared to other Japanese restaurants in Calgary, such as Nami and Takumi.
The Aka Maguro ($4.20) was so good, it induced an exclamation of pure joy from L. The toro was soft and buttery, the flavour was rich and smooth.
I’ve always enjoyed the Amaebi ($4) at Sukiyaki House, but on this occasion, it was extra fabulous. The head was almost the size of a chicken drumstick. The deep-fried shrimp head was covered in a fluffy batter, and the meat inside the shell was hot. The flavour reminded me a bit of fried crab innards, another delicacy L won’t try. I swear, I can eat a plate of these. Had I known the fried shrimp heads would come out like this, I would have ordered two more.
Look at the inside – it was filled with shrimpy goodness! I’m glad I was sitting because surely, I would have swooned.
L does eat amaebi, which he enjoyed. The shrimp was served cool, the flesh was crunchy and sweet.
We loved the Hotategai ($4.20). The scallop was extra thick and wide. So effing good. The rice in all the nigiri was on point. I thought each piece of sushi had the perfect amount of wasabi – just enough to give each piece a touch of heat.
L was still hungry, so for dessert, we ordered Chicken Karaage ($12). These were gorgeous, crispy nuggets of meat. You can never go wrong ordering the karaage at Sukiyaki House. Personally, I would have liked more salt on the chicken, but I’m a salt fiend. The portion was generous. After eating this, how can I go back to paying $15 for a plate of hot wings at a pub?
The restaurant is at half capacity due to COVID safety regulations, but every socially distanced table was taken. I could hear the phone ringing off the hook, and see all the deliveries going out the door. Despite this, our food and service was excellent. There was one server we noticed in particular, because she exhibited polite mannerisms that reminded us of the culture in Japan, such as bowing and folding the receipt in half.
Thanks Sukiyaki House, your team succeeded in turning our bad day around. Hitting the Sauce is grateful this gem exists in Calgary. We don’t have to drive far to get a taste of Japan.
L and his colleagues ordered sushi for their Zoom work dinner. L picked Sushi In – a newish Japanese restaurant in our hood – for his takeout. For this post, let’s listen to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles.
I saw on Google that Sushi Inn has only favourable reviews. That took me by surprise because no matter how good a restaurant is, there will always be awful customers. Sometimes I’ll read a review on Yelp and think to myself that I hope I never have interact with such a wretched human being.
L ordered two of Salmon Nigiri ($2.5), Tuna ($2.5), Tako ($3), Hokky Gai ($2.5), and one Ebi ($2.5) and Red Tuna ($3.5). The ratio of fish to rice was more than double. The rice itself was a little hard and colder than he would have preferred.
I ordered the Chirashi ($24). I noticed the amount of seafood in my bowl was generous. I counted three pieces of salmon, tuna, and sockeye salmon. I also received chopped scallop and two pieces of tamago. The tuna had a strong flavour to it.
The sushi reminds me a little of Red Ember in that you get more fish than rice. The prices at Sushi Inn are more than the nearby E-Mart but the quality is better. At E-Mart, the only prepared food I enjoy is the kimbap and fish cakes.
If I order again, I would try the cooked dishes like the chicken nanban and katsudon. When I went to pick up our food, I immediately noticed the appetizing smell of tempura hung heavily in the air.
For L’s birthday, I took him to Sukiyaki House for “omakase”. In Japanese, omakase translates to “I’ll leave it up to you”, meaning you entrust the menu up to the creativity of the chef. I got to say, Chef Koji Kobayashi knocked this dinner out of the park. For this post, let’s play “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles.
L and I toasted to his birthday with a glass of Kamoshibito Kuheiji Human Junmai Daiginjo, 2011 (3 oz, $15). Judith informed us that Sukiyaki House was the first restaurant in Calgary to bring in this particular bottle.
Judith is a sake nerd. Known as the white Burgundy of sakes, she described this sake as “bougie”, with lots of umami and sweetness. As we took our first sip, she pointed out the notes of bruised apple and pear. I thought this sake was light and not overly sweet.
We started off our meal with a plate of Hamachi with Daikon and Ponzu. L liked the seasoning as he thought it complemented the light, sweet flavour of the fish. If you notice my pictures have improved, it’s because L took all the photos below.
Our second dish was the Duck Tempura with Shiso and Mozzarella. The ume jam was tart and plummy, which cut into the richness of the duck. I thought the garnish of nori and green onion was a nice pop of flavour against the warm, velvety cheese filling.
One of L’s favourite dishes of the night was the Rice Cracker with Deep Fried Salmon, Potato Salad and Yam Crisp. Shwing! The crunch of the batter against the soft creaminess of the potato salad was killer. The salmon itself was flavourful, made even richer with Koji’s special homemade teriyaki sauce. Koji’s sauce has this intensity that makes you stand up and notice.
At this point in our meal, I wanted to try another sake while L stuck to a pint of Asahi. I ventured off and tried a glass of Yamagata Masamune Kimono Akaiwa Machi 1898 (30z, $11).
Judith informed us this sake is made from hamachi rice from the Akalwa region. The brewer uses a traditional method of sake brewing. Rather than having the lactic acid introduced in the fermentation process to cultivate yeast, the sake is allowed to naturally develop lactic acid on its own. This makes for a fuller, complex and richer sake. I enjoyed the melon flavour and the dry, light finish.
Our fourth course was the Matsutake Soup with Crab. The soup arrived boiling hot. The broth was clear and clean, which allowed the subtle flavours of the crab and mushrooms to shine. The wild BC pine mushrooms were thinly sliced, with a fragrance similar to sake. Drinking this soup felt so nourishing – simple but refine.
Next up, Judith showcased A4 Wagyu Nigiri. She torched it and then shaved a ton of black truffles. Real truffles taste so different from the truffle salt I buy. The flavour is gentle and earthy. The texture of the truffles was feathery and light. Seared, the wagyu gave off a mouthwatering smoky flavour. I loved the crunch of the salt. I thought this was an elegant bite.
Our sixth course was the Maple Smoked Anago. L doesn’t normally eat eel, but he loved Koji’s version. The seared aburi was soft, warm and deliciously smoky.
My favourite course was the Lemon Dengaku. Double shwing! Dengaku is similar to a cheesy seafood motoyaki but a billion times better. Half a lemon was filled with mussels, crab, scallops, asparagus, enoki, and matsutake mushrooms, then baked with a creamy, sweet miso sauce.
The flavour and freshness of the the seafood wowed me. The sauce had the perfect amount of saltiness in it. The lemon wasn’t overpowering – just enough to perfume each bite.
Koji created a beautiful platter of nigiri for us. This was an advanced sushi tasting. Each nigiri pairing was an adventure.
The bluefin chu toro was topped with sturgeon caviar. I liked how the salty pop of caviar mingled in with the fatty creaminess of the toro. The “Mother and Child” sockeye with ikura and chrysanthemum petals was another winning salty, creamy combination. The hamachi (yellowtail) was juicy. I found the lime zest with the kanpachi subtle. The cuttlefish had a pleasant crunchy texture. The bluefin tuna in the negitori with shredded kombu was soft and buttery.
Dessert was devastatingly charming. Not only was this the cutest creation, but the mochi had the nicest chew to it. As always, the fruit at Sukiyaki House was served at the optimal ripeness, just like in Japan.
Koji, you truly are an artist. This was the best meal L and I have ever experienced. We are so lucky to have you in Calgary. L and I have an upcoming wedding anniversary to celebrate in December. We can only order takeout because we are staying with in-laws. We might just have to hit up Sukiyaki House for their new premium bento takeout box of spicy prawns, beef tataki, miso sablefish, a hosomaki, and a mini chirashi. Whatever takeout we end up picking up, we’ll make sure to support one of our favourite restaurants.
I’ve been hearing good things about Ke Charcoal Grill, a restaurant specializing in yakitori. I convinced L to go, though I warned him that he needs to lower his expectations. L’s eaten his fair share of yakitori in Tokyo, so I knew he had preconceived notions on what it should taste like. Ke Charcoal is popular for its cheap and tasty food. For this post, let’s listen to “Joyride” by Roxette.
When we arrived, the hostess took our temperature. As with most restaurants, there is sanitizer at the entrance. For our safety, all our cutlery and sauces were individually packed. I liked how the tables were spaciously set apart. I also noticed that the staff were attentive and friendly, despite appearing understaffed.
L ordered a glass of Asahi ($6) and I stuck with tap water. I took a sip of his beer and found it flat. I heard from a reliable person with industry knowledge – Jude – that Ke Charcoal’s sake is inexpensive. I’ll have to try some on my next visit.
The Chicken Karaage ($8) is a winner. The chicken leg meat was juicy and the batter was nice and brittle. I would order this again.
To go with our skewers, I ordered two heaping bowls of rice ($5). The rice was fluffy and the fragrance reminded me more of Chinese rice than Japanese.
We started off with two skewers of Hatsu with teriyaki sauce ($4.60). I normally love chicken heart but these skewers were served cold and the texture was rubbery instead of tender.
Next up were two skewers of Mo Mo with teriyaki sauce ($4.80). The chicken thighs were tasty and served hot. The teriyaki sauce tasted heavy and sweet.
The cheese on the Yuki ($5.20) was sticky and stuck to the roof of my mouth. I preferred the plain chicken thighs without the cheese but that’s just a personal preference.
One of our favourite skewers was Negima ($4.80). So simple but so good. The green onion was deeply caramelized and it paired beautifully with the chicken thighs.
The Dunagimo ($2.40) arrived hot. I’ve never tried chicken gizzard before. The gizzard was addictingly chewy yet crunchy, and the flavour was surprisingly subtle. I would order this again.
My favourite skewer was Kawa (w/ sea salt $2.30). The chicken skin was super crispy. When I took a bite, the skin would flake apart and then melt in my mouth. I love eating chicken skin with rice, as the plainness of the steamed rice accents the texture and richness of the skin.
I didn’t know what to expect when I ordered Okra ($2.10). The okra was cooked perfectly – there was still a resistance when I bit into it. I loved the crunchy, juicy texture and I could taste the smoky flavour of the grill.
The Asparagus Maki ($4.80) skewers were yummy. The bacon was crispy on the edges but still soft on the inside, coating the asparagus with the flavour of hot pork fat. The texture of the grilled asparagus reminded me of green beans.
We tried both the Tsukkune with teriyaki sauce ($5.20) and with cheese ($5.20). These chicken meatballs were filling, but I found the temperature cool. I think if it was served fresh off the grill, I would have enjoyed it.
I thought that more than half the skewers we tried were awesome, particularly for the price. We ordered way too much food and the bill was half of what we would pay at Shokunin. However, you can’t expect the quality of Shokunin at Ke Charcoal’s prices. Ke Charcoal is an affordable, easy introduction to yakitori. The food reminded me a bit of Torikizoku – a popular and dirt cheap yakitori izakaya chain in Japan. I think the food at Ke Charcoal is far better than Torikizoku.
I told Jude that L wasn’t as impressed as I was with yakitori. She said that the food at Ke Charcoal is great when it’s hot. Sometimes when the yakitori is colder than she would like, she’ll inform the servers and they bring over a new set. I never even thought about complaining. Jude suggested the next time I go, I should ask the servers to ensure the skewers are hot.
Jude recommends the oyster special on Wednesdays, unagi, chicken meatball with shisho, scallop, miso sablefish, beef tongue with daikon and ponzu. She told me to request salt on the yakitori and togarashi on the side for L, so he can get that essence of Japanese yakitori he craves.
I was so excited after talking to Jude that I wanted to go to Ke Charcoal the next day. I told L that I would even pick up the tab. He looked at me sourly and responded, “Look, I know why you want me to go again. You want me to have a different experience. But I won’t. It’s not Japan.”
Wow L! Talk about being inflexible. In the circle of compromise, you aren’t meeting me halfway. I’m not going to pressure him again because I think I am too controlling over where and what we eat. Plus, I know Karplop will go with me. I’ll post an update on my second visit to Ke Charcoal shortly, because this is one izakaya I’ll be frequenting. Hitting Sauce gives Ke Charcoal two fat thumbs up.